Pissing it down. That’s what it is doing outside. An entire tirade of water, as though the heavens have squeezed out an Ocean, hit the pavement and drench the sidewalks. Soaking through clothes, the masses that were enjoying a rather pleasant day shopping on Regents Street, are now huddled in the doorways of the shops. Punting against the glass walls of Apple, the rain seems really uninviting as the guests of today’s events sit, poised for excitement over the latest star to grace to stage. It’s obvious why the weather is terrible, really, as the Simon Pegg is here. He, director Peter Chelsom and Hector and the Search For Happiness seems to have stolen the sunshine for this delightful movie.
There is so much beauty within this film already. Of the two clips highlighted at this event, the film definitely showcases a wide range of stunning humanity, glorious landscapes and intense philosophy. A kitchen party scene in South Africa being a genuine moment of joy that you can’t help but smile wildly at. The first scene, however, is an interesting moment between Hector and his wife Clara. Chelsom states, “this is actually me, a little bit of myself in the film.” He’s talking about one of the first instances in the film where Hector and his wife are going through his packing in a strict and planned way.”
“Peter is a really great director,” says Simon when talking about the experience he had with Chelsom, who has been absent from the film industry for a while. Chelsom, perhaps more famous for classic movies such as Funny Bones, is back in a tour de force of a movie. “He knows how to set a mood and scene. He can reign me in and be like ‘no, I need less Pegg and more Hector.’ He helped guide me into this character and he is excellent at it.” There is a wonderful atmosphere between the pair on stage, it is clear that they clicked whilst filming. Complimentary and playful tappings means that there is a clear relationship struck for a wonderful film.
The best thing about Hector, that looked fun for the actors and the crew, was the globe-trotting “It felt like we spent forever on a plane” says Pegg with a smile, “and sometimes there were plane scenes so it was days on this stationary plane. Of course, there were so many places that I loved, it felt like we filmed five different films as each place was a different experience.”
Pegg may be a comedy powerhouse but, unsurprisingly from his writing and performances, he is an intelligent man. Talking about how to be happy and what the film conveys, “I think there is something in taking things away will make you happy,” musing on his experience in South Africa, “there is an attitude that as they don’t have material things, they can focus on what makes them really happy. The more affluent people, especially people who come from a rich background, have this shut off attitude to them.”
There is also this ‘less is more’ attitude with filming as certain scenes couldn’t be filmed because of time or monetary restrictions. “It gave us more freedom to get these wonderful shots and I think if we had all the money, we’d be more held back,” Pegg says talking about his experience on set.
Alongside Pegg are several famous and brilliant thespians, tackling other characters in the journey. Rosamund Pike stars as his wife Clara, “me and Rosamund did The World’s End together and she is magnificent. We have this great friendship that we’re comfortable about so we’re able to transfer that to Hector and Clara. (Pegg also mentions Pike’s performance in the upcoming Gone Girl which you should also watch.)”
Toni Collette plays Hector’s ex-girlfriend Agnus. “I was a bit of a fangirl and went ‘You’re terrible Muriel’ Simon says in an offbeat Australian. Chelsom chimes in and mentions that “Toni is a really funny woman and very warming, plus she has this wonderful energy when filming.
“Christopher ‘Edelweiss’ Plummer put a lot of himself within the character he plays, a sort of hippie philosopher.” says Pegg “I remember he phoned me up saying ‘I think he should wear a beanie. No, he definitely should wear a beanie.”
“There were a lot of things that I had to change from the book,” said Chelsom, “because books and films are different. But there is so much richness in there too. I really enjoyed the book so it was nice to come to it and adapt this but yes, I had to cut some things out.”
Following on from this, Pegg is also asked which of his roles he enjoyed playing most. “I like them all because they are all so different but imperfect and stuck in childish ways. Whether it is overgrown child Shaun or suicidal alcoholic Gary King, they aren’t great people.” On a personal note, I am very happy that Gary King was brought up in this Q&A. Simply because I get to say that Pegg exudes one of the best performances of 2013. Managing the comedy,
“Even Hector is a little bit cold and a brash,” he says, “he pretty doesn’t believe in his wife’s career even in an event for her and is upset that she never wanted kids. At the beginning, he is very cold and unconnected.”
There seems to be a lot of richness in this movie and deepness to its message as one audience member asks what he thinks is the key to happiness, “The best thing that you can come away from this film is the tagline ‘unhappiness happens when you search for happiness’” insightfully says Pegg who has captured everyone’s hearts and minds, again. “You’ve got to take the good with the bad and accept that you will be unhappy and sadness will happen. When you realise that, you can start enjoying things. People who try to be happy all the time end up plateauing into ‘ok.’ I tend to treat things like this child and I’m always excited. But you have to allow yourself to feel sad.”
Learning more about upcoming projects (Pegg’s worked out for Mission Impossible 5 and it shows, in a completely non-creepy way ((no crush here, no sir,))) touching upon Star Trek 3, and finding out that Peter Chelsom is directing a brand new Charles Dickens’ movie, Chelsom then ends the great Q&A with high; “you really have to watch the film for Simon’s performance. It’s incredible and powerful. No one does what he does. He really is Hector and he added this slice of Simoness to it that is just a joy to work with. Everyone he meets leaves blessed, he exudes his personality. So if there is something I want you to take away from today, it’s that he makes the film.”
And on that note, you can catch Hector and the Search for Happiness in Cinemas Now.