Edgar Wright on The Wright Stuff II: 'Envy These Virgins!'
Back in 2007 fan fave Edgar Wright curated his first film series at the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles, spawning a popular screening series of classic films and cult favorites hand selected by guest programmers ranging from Eli Roth to Peter Bogdanovich. This weekend the busy Wright returns to host The Wright Stuff II, a two-week bonanza that will bring some of his favorite films to the big screen.
The fun begins Friday with a triple bill of Wright features Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World -- a two-night slate that sold out online in a record-breaking four minutes. So what prompted Wright, who's currently juggling numerous projects (including the Marvel comics adaptation Ant-Man and the Steven Spielberg-directed December release The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, which he co-scripted), to come back to the New Beverly for more?
"It's been quite a long time in the cards because I did the first one in December 2007, and at various points in the last three years [New Beverly programmer Julia Marchese and owner Michael Torgan] said, 'Come back and do another season,'" Wright explained via telephone.
It was encouragement from Quentin Tarantino, perhaps the most famous filmmaker friend of the repertory theater, that first led to Wright hosting his two-week series, The Wright Stuff. The run was so successful that guest programs have since become a signature event at the repertory theater; Wright considers his association with the New Beverly an honor. "I was very privileged to be sort of the first person in a run of great people doing it, and people that continue to do it."
The Wright Stuff II kicks off this Friday and Saturday with a triple feature highlighting all three of Wright's feature films to date, including a midnight screening of Scott Pilgrim, a film that has engendered a fervent fan following since release. When Wright brought practically his entire cast to the New Beverly last October for Scott Pilgrim's first ever midnight screening, the Q&A ran until 4 a.m. (!) and Wright couldn't be happier to keep sharing his love of the film with the devoted Pilgrimites of the world.
"Seeing it with crowds [was great]. Most of the screenings I've done, 90 percent of the audience has already seen it. So it's always kind of interesting, and it's nice for the 10 percent who haven't seen it to see it with a crowd who know every line."
That kind of unabashed, rabid, bordering-on-obsession love for movies is something Wright looks forward to sharing in the next few weeks as he hosts screenings of some of his favorite films, paired in thematic double bills with many special guests in attendance. He's matched, for example, the Clint Eastwood classic Dirty Harry (which features one of his favorite scenes) with the more obscure 1974 NYC cop flick The Super Cops, juxtaposed Alfred Hitchock's Frenzy with Brian De Palma's Dressed to Kill, and unearthed Philip Kaufman's The Wanderers to come out and play with Walter Hill's The Warriors -- as much for the audience's benefit as to satisfy his own film-geek fantasy.
"It's partly showing my favorite movies with an enthusiastic audience, and it's partly a completely selfish thing to watch some of my favorite movies on the big screen," Wright admitted. "Quite a few of them I haven't seen on the big screen, which is not an uncommon thing, especially for films that were from before my time or that got independent releases. I grew up in a small town in England where the local cinema didn't play anything other than big releases. So I'd say about 75 percent of the films this time I haven't seen on the big screen. Even films I have seen a million times, like Dirty Harry and Animal House, I haven't seen on a cinema screen, so it's as exciting for me as it is for the audience members."
"It's an interesting variety you get at the New Beverly, because you get older film geeks and you get younger film fans who maybe haven't seen any of these movies. That's something I noticed in the 2007 series. People would come every night that hadn't seen any of these movies before, not on VHS and not on DVD. I really like that aspect of it, that these people are going to see these films for the first time. I envy their film virginity."
Wright has a lot of love for said newbies, because everyone remembers their first time -- at least, when it comes to watching cult gems with a theater full of fellow like-minded movie lovers. "I remember when I showed Evil Dead II and Raising Arizona as a double bill, I asked at the start, as I always do, 'Who hasn't seen this movie before?' Twenty people put their hands up, and some of the others in the room kind of groaned. I said, 'Don't boo them! Wouldn't you want to see Evil Dead on the big screen for the first time with this crowd? You should envy these virgins!'"
View the full line-up of films and pre-order your tickets here to lose your cult film virginity with Wright and special guests like Richard Kelly, Walter Hill, John Landis.
[Photo: Getty Images]