This one was forced on me in the twice-weekly Z Review meeting. Oh, they said. Isn’t Simon Pegg wonderful? No, I said. I hate him with every cell. Silence. The line was down, again. Or, for once, they were speechless. You don’t like his films? Oh no, I said. I like his films. I just hate the man. Oh, they said, eventually. Did you know his name means shagging someone up the bottom with a fake penis? What they actually said was slightly different, but meant the same thing. No, I said. In Britain, it means hanging out the washing.

As you might expect, my research immediately failed. Not only is Simon Pegg a made up name, adding weight to my hatred, but he has done even more great movies than I had realised. I know him from Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz and World’s End. I enjoyed the latter mostly because it is set, and was shot, very close to where I live. They call it the Hollywood of Britain, it being close to the holy trinity of Pinewood, Elstree, and Shepperton and, yes, Hammer Horror’s Bray. Four doth not a trinity make, but who cares? Denham was once a film studio before it became a block of flats, also close by.

I do believe in fate. Last night, sprawled on the sofa after another gripping edition of The Sweet Makers about Victorian confectionery on the BBC, we accidentally forgot to switch over to another program. And now, said the announcer, a little film called Man Up. This sounds shit, I replied. Starring Simon Pegg…

Even my American colleagues, all fans of the Pegg, had not heard of Man Up. And no wonder. There are no ghouls or gremlins. No people in uniforms. No easily described setup. No Nick Frost. None of the usual crew at all. There’s a girl, Nancy, a total loser, lost in London, bossed around by her middle-aged married sister. I enjoyed spotting some of the landmarks for a bit, but somehow forgot to switch it all off. It turned out that, once you got to know her, Nancy was not only very funny and interesting but red hot. I started to Google. She’s played by the improbably named Lake Bell. I know! An American! I only just realised she was from New York City. She has a perfect English accent, which I doubt she used in Boston Legal.

Man Up grows on you until, by the last glorious half hour, you are right in there rooting for Lake and Simon. They’re perfect for each other. Never mind that I hate rom coms. I desperately want these two to sort it all out. Not even Pegg, staggering through Surrey to Whitesnake on full blast, followed by a mob of drunken drug-addled teenagers, can put me off. It is a very, very good movie. And Pegg is very, very good in it. Even still, Lake Bell steals the show.

As if to prove that Simon Pegg knows I hate him, shortly before Man Up he made an odd number called Paul. I have watched Paul, but only because a good friend of mine has a little cameo in it if you look closely. I watched it under duress, because I hate Simon Pegg. This is entirely personal. All his movies are fabulous.

I so very rarely have strong reactions to anyone in the public eye, that it always makes me stop and think when I do. You, me, everybody, only sees the side of someone that they themselves choose to put out there. Some traits, some personalities work well at a party, for an hour. But if you had to live with that persona, well that would be something else. For quite a long time, I hated Ricky Gervais. He also lives nearby. So do ten million others. Ricky I hated for a long time, until I saw through him. I am naturally suspicious of someone who actively promotes their least likeable traits in public. Why would anyone do that? For money? For love? The thing is, if Ricky Gervais had not put his least desirable traits front and centre, he wouldn’t have been successful. Before I hated Ricky I hated Steve Coogan. Same reason. Here is a really nice northern bloke, who is very funny indeed, choosing to put himself about like a bitter old twat. His phone hacking mock shock is transparent too. But I no longer hate him, or Gervais. I see that their public personas are just part of the act.

This, friends, his high performance art. If you have to pretend to be someone all day for work, then surely it’s easier just to keep being that person at home too? Until it is no longer work. Until, perhaps, you turn into the caricature.

Pegg is different, I think. He is not a natural performer. Perhaps more of a Stephen Merchant character, he seems like he would be more relaxed writing and producing than acting. Don’t some of his performances on screen seem a little strained?

Is Pegg a few years behind the legend Coogan? Is he still trying to look relaxed as the flashy twat nobody really likes? He doesn’t pull it off. I can see through you, Simon. I can see who you really are. And I know that if you really were that person on camera and in interviews, which are the only time I get to see you, it wouldn’t make you look so uneasy. I know you are still learning the part, but you don’t need to try so hard. You made it, Simon. You did what you set out to achieve. Time to leave the beery twat in the pub. Show us the real you.

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About Author

Clint Kilham has lived and worked in Whitechapel since the bad old days. He’s watched its gentrification with a mixture of glee and despair. These streets inform his acerbic assessments of culture of all kinds. Yes, Clint lives to review the good, the bad and the ugly on the page and on the stage.

2 Comments

  1. Ok so, I’ve been a huge fan of his for nearly a decade now. Might have a little crush. Or a big one. That’s not important.

    I’ve always noticed certain unsavory personality traits in him, and they’re only becoming more and more apparent. Which for the most part is fine; I’ve always had a fairly healthy separation between the man and the fantasy in my head. But as he says/does more and more dumb sh*t, it becomes more and more difficult to ignore that stuff.

    I see what you’re saying, about him putting on an act. That would be great if it’s true. I was just thinking maybe he’s more of an as*hole than I thought. Well, he probably is, but maybe not as much of one? Idk.

    For example, when he was active on Twitter, he seemed to go out of his way to respond to negativity (or what he perceived as negativity) while ignoring anything positive. He said he didn’t want to fill his feed with “gushing thank yous”, but more often than I care to remember I was treated to his not-so clever retorts to mean tweets. So, he didn’t want to fill his feed with positivity, but was all too happy to fill it with pointless vitriol? Ok. Yeah, I get it, celebrities put up with a lot of awfulness on platforms like Twitter, but we all know, any idiot knows, that responding to it accomplishes nothing good.

    It was just … embarrassing. I don’t know what he was trying to accomplish. If it was looking like an insecure manchild, then congrats, I guess.

    I’ve seen him go out of his way in interviews to mention how he’s not what people think he is, he’s not the manchild, he’s not the nerd that HE HIMSELF has built his career on being. And it’s like, dude, chill. If you were really mature, then you wouldn’t have to say it, and doing so just seems to prove the opposite. It just feels like all his griping only serves to show that he is exactly what he’s claiming not to be. It’s maddening. He … can’t be that stupid, can he? Someone his age who has gotten himself to where he is in his career cannot be that clueless. I refuse to believe that. I understand attempting to conceal who you really are/putting up walls to protect yourself, but … do it well, maybe? He’s so bad at it. I want to believe that that’s the point, that it’s awful on purpose, but … maybe I’m just reaching.

    And on top of all of that, in all his efforts to prove that he isn’t a certain thing, he ends up sh*tting all over the people who are actually whatever that thing is. At least that’s how it feels sometimes. He can’t seem to distance himself from something without making those of us who are or who enjoy that thing feel like losers.

    It’s so strange. It’s like he seems to hate people who hate him AND people who love him. There’s no comfortable place to land with this guy. Except maybe indifference. Which I haven’t managed to reach yet. Like, if someone like me ever meets him in person, I’m just supposed to smile and get my autograph or picture or whatever and ignore all this stuff. Which I would do, of course, but it feels almost abusive. I’ve met this guy before; he shows you all his awfulness and does horrible things just to see what you’ll do, to see if you’ll respond, or not respond, in a way that he can tolerate. He damages you on purpose in order to ensure that he’ll be safe with you in the long run. Those who put up with his crap, pass the test. Those who don’t are abandoned, and have a whole lot of emotional and psychological damage to show for it. That’s probably reading too much into this, but that’s what his behavior reminds me of.

    And there’s other, more specific things I could mention, but I would be venturing into the realm of being petty. Not that I don’t love being petty, but I’ll refrain for now.

    Anyway, um … I don’t think I had a point with all this. I just wanted to vent. I can’t vent in my own blog because I follow and am followed by many Pegg fans (because I still love him, god help me) and they would not tolerate any of this. I would get so much hate. But I needed to vent. I’ve needed to vent for a loooonnnng time now and just didn’t have any place to do it.

    I just want to make it clear that this isn’t me spewing hate about him for the sake of being a troll. I’ve loved him for eight years now and still do. He’s been so important to me. But that doesn’t mean I’ve got blinders on. That doesn’t mean I ignore his unpleasant traits. That doesn’t mean I just let him off the hook for any bullsh*t he pulls.

    Anyway, Simon, if you happen to stumble across this article and its comments, I hope you’ll try to take this criticism in the spirit in which it’s intended. Constructive criticism doesn’t mean you don’t like, or don’t want to like, the thing you’re criticizing. “Peace and love”.

    My apologies for writing a novel in your comments. 🙂

    • Wow. You just wrote my mind. I too loved him and still love him. But certain traits of him do disturb me. I hope its all an act.

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