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Pegg, Simon (1970-)

Actor, Writer

Main image of Pegg, Simon (1970-)

The blond, likeable and strikingly versatile Simon Pegg has not only been involved with several of the most impressive sitcoms of recent memory as both writer and performer, but has also helped revitalise the apparently moribund genre of the comedy-horror film.

He was born on 14th February 1970 in Gloucester, and studied theatre, film and television at Bristol University. After a brief career as a stand-up comedian, his television debut came in the short-lived comedy sketch show Six Pairs of Pants (Channel 4, 1995), on which he met future collaborators Jessica Stevenson and Edgar Wright. He had an amusing cameo as a beleaguered director in Steve Coogan's seminal I'm Alan Partridge (BBC, 1997) and was part of the ensemble cast of Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews' surreal sketch show Big Train (BBC, 1998/2002). Pegg continued to work with Mathews on the underrated Hippies (BBC, 1999), and made his big screen debut in the superbly cast, if artistically negligible, Guest House Paradiso (d. Adrian Edmondson, 1999).

He then reunited with Stevenson (as co-writer and co-star) and Wright (director) for the BAFTA-nominated Spaced(Channel 4, 1999-2001), whose would-be comic book artist, Star Wars fan and general layabout Tim became his defining role to date. Continuing his associations with respected comic writers and performers, he appeared in Chris Morris' infamous Brass Eye paedophilia special (Channel 4, 2001), and had cameos in two Steve Coogan projects, The Parole Officer (d. John Duigan, 2001) and 24 Hour Party People (d. Michael Winterbottom, 2002), as well as his quid-pro-quo appearance in Spaced co-star Bill Bailey's Black Books (Channel 4, 2004). He also had an effective straight role as a soldier in Band of Brothers (HBO, 2001).

His big-screen breakthrough came in the title role of Shaun of the Dead (UK/France, d. Wright, 2004), a delirious 'rom-zom-com' which built on Wright's virtuoso direction of Spaced and Pegg's well-established loser-turned-winner persona to create that rare beast: a genuinely exciting, funny and gripping horror spoof. It was nominated for Best British Film at the BAFTAs, and won the Peter Sellers award for Comedy at the Evening Standard Awards. Fittingly, given their film's obvious debt to the American director's classic zombie films, Pegg and Wright both had cameos in George A.Romero's Land of the Dead (Canada/France/US, 2005). Pegg then reunited with many of his old comedic colleagues for the spoof animation I Am Not An Animal (BBC, 2004), and was effectively unpleasant as a futuristic villain in Doctor Who (BBC, 2005).

When asked by a journalist whether fame would change him, he quipped "Well, it's not as if I'm going to go off and appear in Mission Impossible 3!" As fate would have it, he then did precisely that, injecting some welcome humour into the film (US, 2006) as a twitchy computer expert. His next project is the rural crime comedy-thriller Hot Fuzz (2007), a reunion with Wright and frequent co-star Nick Frost which promises to do for the action film what Shaun of the Dead did for the horror genre.

Alexander Larman

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Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Big Train (1998-2002)Big Train (1998-2002)

Cult sketch show from the creators of Father Ted

Thumbnail image of Black Books (2000-04)Black Books (2000-04)

Cult sitcom about a grumpy, alcoholic Irish bookseller

Thumbnail image of Spaced (1999-2001)Spaced (1999-2001)

Innovative sitcom about disillusioned twentysomething flatmates

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