On the Set of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

For at least a year or more, buzz has been swirling around Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, the upcoming movie from Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz). With less than three months leading up to its release, that buzz has become quite contagious even to those who hear of the movie and immediately wonder, "Who the heck is Scott Pilgrim?" Whether you already know that answer or whether you’ve been scratching your head wondering what the big deal is yourself, SuperHeroHype had a chance to visit the set last summer, flying into Toronto straight from Comic-Con to see for ourselves what Wright and company had planned. 

But before we get to that…

A Quick Scott Pilgrim Primer!

The source material for Wright’s new movie is a different type of comic book, revolving around the relationships of one Scott Pilgrim, the somewhat dopey and thoroughly clueless 23-year-old bass player for the Toronto band Sex Bob-omb and a chronic slacker who doesn’t have any other job. When he meets the ultra-hip and stylish Ramona Flowers, American chick from New York, he falls head over heels with her, not realizing at the time that Ramona has a reputation for dumping boyfriends poorly. In order for Scott to be her boyfriend, he’ll have to fight… and defeat… her seven evil exes.

Named after an obscure ’90s song by Canadian girl group Plumtree, Scott Pilgrim is sort of heroic in his desperate willingness to fight for Ramona’s love, yet creator Brian Lee O’Malley would probably cringe at the thought of a site called "SuperHeroHype" writing about the movie based on his characters. O’Malley has been telling Scott’s story over the course of six compact-sized graphic novels, the first volume which was published by Oni Press in July 2004, the final volume arriving this coming July just in time for the release of the movie. O’Malley’s distinctive knack for mixing slacker humor, relationship drama, video game inspired action and Manga-influenced art styling made it one of those infectious comics that was easier to suggest to friends by lending them your copies, rather than sounding silly by trying to describe them. Most people who’ve read them immediately recognize its quirky brilliance for combining disparate elements into one of those comics that is impossible to put down or read just one.

Edgar Wright was one of O’Malley’s early fans, and he quickly came on board to develop an adaptation of the "Scott Pilgrim" comics, being the perfect candidate considering his own experience mashing together genres in the zombie romantic comedy in Shaun of the Dead. Casting Michael Cera as Scott Pilgrim was a huge step forward for Wright in getting the movie made, and he proceeded to assemble the enormous ensemble cast of characters that surrounds the dopey action star. The most important role was Ramona Flowers herself, a part that went to 25-year-old Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Wright found a number of new names and faces including Ellen Wong, who plays Scott’s previous girlfriend, the impressionable 17-year-old Knives Chau who has sworn revenge on the woman who stole her beloved Scott. While all of that action is happening, Scott’s band is trying to make their way through the music business and he’s surrounded by all sorts of interesting characters, including his dry-witted gay roommate Wallace Wells, played by former child actor Kieran Culkin in Wright’s movie, bandmates Stephen Stills and Kim Pine, played by Mark Webber and Alison Pill, and Scott’s sister Stacey, played by Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air). Many of Ramona’s exes are also played by familiar faces including Chris Evans as action star Lucas Lee, Brandon Routh as Vegan bass player Todd Ingram and then finally, Jason Schwartzman as her evilest ex, Gideon Gordon Graves.

In January 2009, Wright and company set up camp in Scott’s hometown to start the ambitious project of turning O’Malley’s densely-plotted work into a cohesive movie. Ten months later and Wright is still hard at work on the post-production of the movie, having done recent reshoots to include some of the cooler sequences from Volume 6, "Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour," which will arrive just in time for Comic-Con.

For now, imagine we’re going back in time to late July 2009 when neither the movie nor O’Malley’s finale even had a release date in sight…

Arriving on Set

At the time of our visit, Wright had been in Toronto for over six months and was on Day 84 of the long production, and as hard as it may be to describe what makes the comics so special, it was even tougher getting a handle on what Wright had planned once we arrived on set. They had been nice enough to set up a dozen chairs and our own private monitoring station and headsets for the visiting press, as well as supplying specially-customized Mead memobooks for everyone. (see picture on right)

Unfortunately, the day we visited was also the day they were shooting the final battle between Scott and Gideon, which hadn’t even been shown in the comics yet. Instead, we were herded up to the cast and crew’s dining area to start interviewing various members of the cast. Given that we were on set with a veritable supergroup of some of the internet’s finest journalists, we can tell you these interviews are all fairly long and comprehensive.

First up is actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead, an interview you can read by clicking "Next" below.