Simon Pegg's New Autobiography: Well Done, Nerd!
Since he and Edgar Wright unleashed their horror-comedy masterpiece Shaun of the Dead on audiences in 2004, Simon Pegg has become as in-demand a performer here as in his native Britain, not to mention something of an alpha geek amongst genre fans. His deeply-rooted boyhood love of the Star Wars trilogy, and subsequent frustration with the prequels, is nigh on legendary; he wrote a Marxist analysis of the original films as his undergraduate thesis.
His autobiography, Nerd Do Well, in which he relates his personal tales of growing up geek -- interwoven with a hilarious alter-ego epic featuring himself as a dashing Bond-like adventurer with a robot butler and abs of steel -- is released in the U.S. this week. Here's our interview with Pegg, in advance of his appearance at The Grove's Barnes & Noble on Friday:
You're very candid in the book with anecdotes about your childhood and adolescence. Were there any parts of your life (for whatever reason, good or bad) you knew you needed to address but had a particularly difficult time putting into words
The good thing about this book is that I didn't need to address anything I felt uncomfortable with, it was all a matter of choice, and as such I didn't have to tackle anything painful or difficult. It isn't a confessional or tell-all account, it's anecdotal, celebratory and fun. I have no desire to wash my dirty undies in public. My life is my business but that doesn't preclude me sharing some of it. I don't like discussing it with journalists because they are invariably attempting to discover something about me that can be spun into some sort of scoop. Writing your own story means there is no filter. I am the horse's mouth, as it were.
In addition to speaking in depth about your family and how influential they were on both your life and your creative choices, you have a lot of wonderful stories about teachers and other mentors who influenced you greatly. Did you hear from any of them after the book was released in the UK?
I managed to reconnect with my old English teacher Mrs. Taylor at a signing in Manchester. I tracked her down after another former teacher got in touch to let me know where she was. We met in the stock room of the bookstore before the signing and it was wonderful. She was white-haired but still had the effervescence and twinkle in her eye that endeared me to her as a child. I signed a book for her which pleased her no end as her family did not believe she had taught me. The joy of that reunion meant so much to me. I actually include a quote from her in the book, a comment she left at the bottom of a project I had written for her. The comment made mention of me becoming a published author and here I was 25 years later, signing my first book for her. That was a genuinely lovely moment for me.
What's the best autobiography you've ever read? Conversely, what's the nerdiest book you've ever read? (Ordinarily I'd say graphic novels count, but for the sake of the non-nerdy laymen who are going to whine "They're all nerdy!", let's say just text novels.)
I love Bruce Campbell's If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor. It's a very funny account of his adventures in the screen trade. It chronicles the extraordinary challenge of making the Evil Dead films, as well as his subsequent stint as a bit part player and character actor, not to mention geek icon.
The nerdiest book I've ever read is a tough one because I've read a fair few. I read a few of the contemporary Battlestar Galactica novelizations whilst I was plowing through the TV series. I was shooting Paul at the time and at the end if a long day, you need the literary equivalent of comfort food. The further adventures of Apollo and Starbuck were exactly that.