Whilst Simon Pegg certainly owes a hand to the writer, director Edgar Wright for his own ascendancy to international success, the influential actor has become something of an industry icon who has since overshadowed the filmmaker. Featuring in the likes of such early hits as the TV series Spaced as well as Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End, Pegg has forged a career for himself as a quirky English comedian capable of hefty dramatic roles.
Whilst it was Wright’s ‘Cornetto’ trilogy that put him on the industry map, in the contemporary industry he is better known as tech-whizz Benji in Tom Cruise’s ongoing action franchise juggernaut Mission: Impossible. In addition, Pegg has also worked on several smaller TV projects and independent films and is currently working on bringing the Skydance animation Luck to the big screen alongside stars Whoopi Goldberg and Jane Fonda.
As a fan-favourite actor and self-proclaimed cinephile, Simon Pegg isn’t shy to share his favourite films of all time, revealing his top picks in a recent conversation with Rotten Tomatoes. Known for his fondness for comic books and science fiction, Pegg chooses the iconic Hollywood game-changer Star Wars: A New Hope to start things off “just because that was the source of it all, even though Empire is essentially a slightly more grown-up, often seen as the better film”.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Pegg gives his second choice to Taxi Driver by Martin Scorsese, noting that he misses the days of the sincere, dark adult movies that were popular in the mid-20th century. Recognising its brilliance “just as a piece of acting and just fabulous scene-setting brilliance from Scorsese and characterization from De Niro,” Pegg goes on to highlight, “that’s one of those films I just watch in awe of all of it, because it’s just so uncompromising”.
From classic science fiction to iconic Scorsese and back to contemporary cinema, Pegg’s third favourite film is Alex Garland’s Ex Machina, “a brilliant, brilliant film” in the eyes of the Hot Fuzz actor. Comparing the film to the cerebral, visceral science fiction of 2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick, the actor further adds, “Alicia Vikander is amazing in that film. It’s a film that I’ve watched many times because I just, I don’t seem to tire of it. I think it’s excellent”.
Going for a bit of diversity, Simon Pegg tries to consider a different genre entirely, choosing a classic comedy in Annie Hall from director Woody Allen. Describing the film as a “cinematic poem” that is “really, really smartly made,” the actor highlights that he is able to separate art from the troubled artist on this particular occasion. Bringing attention to the brilliance of Diane Keaton as his favourite aspect of the movie, Pegg adds, “for her performance alone, that film, as controversial as it might be, would definitely be on my list”.
To bookend the list Pegg goes for something admittedly “weird and ridiculous,” choosing Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, “specifically for the scene in which Jim Carrey births himself from the anus of a fake rhino”. It’s a strange choice, granted, but we all have a guilty pleasure somewhere inside of us that inhabits a part of our cinematic heart, with Pegg recognising the aforementioned scene as a “genius piece of comedy executed with extraordinary aplomb”.
Simon Pegg’s five favourite films:
- Star Wars: A New Hope (George Lucas, 1977)
- Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)
- Ex Machina (Alex Garland, 2014)
- Annie Hall (Woody Allen, 1977)
- Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (Steve Oedekerk, 1995)