The funniest character from Simon Pegg and Nick Frost's Paul isn't the little gray alien — it's Jeffrey Tambor's Adam Shadowchild. We interviewed Pegg and Frost and got the backstory on Tambor's arrogant science fiction author.
Who is Adam Shadowchild?
Pegg: We wanted this very pompous very sort of full of himself author. And Jeffrey [Tambor] plays that very well. Even though in person he's the sweetest, self-effacing guy.
The whole shtick with [Tambor shaking hands with the fans and then rubbing his hands with Purell].
Pegg: We saw Carl Weathers do that at a signing in London. We saw him shake someone's hand and then literally apply [Purell].
Frost: Right in front of them!
Can you name all of Adam Shawdowchild's books?
Pegg: There's the Skyfarm Trilogy, Flux In Uranus, Night of the Moths.
Frost: Prison Hulk 451
Pegg: The Robot's Mistress, The Jenny Starpepper Mysteries.
Frost: [The Jenny Starpepper Mysteries] Quadrilogy.
Pegg: There's a lot of trilogies. Sebastion Rico is one of his protagonists.
Frost: There's like 140 titles.
Pegg: We wrote a whole bibliography about Adam Shadowchild. Which starts off with these very pretentious science fiction titles and ends up with 1,001 Bar Tricks and Learning to Cope With Divorce.
Frost: On the Blu-Ray actually there's a 10-minute documentary called "Meeting Adam Shadowchild" and it's just all about him.
What can you tell us about [the character] Clive's book [played by Nick Frost]?
Frost: Jelva Alien Queen of the Varvak it was just a really bad title wasn't it?
Pegg: The idea was that Clive had written a very good first novel when he was 16. And ever since then he's been trying to complete this tome. This impenetrable science fiction sludge that was Jelva. It takes Paul to help him let that go.
Frost: You know when you see a woman with three breasts riding a blue rhino with a laser whip, you're probably slightly off base.
Pegg: We had a joke in the script originally where people said "Oh like in Total Recall" and Clive was like, "No." He didn't like the idea that someone else had, had the idea.
Frost: Or he would say, "Hadn't seen it!"
Pegg: But it was just the typical absurd boy fantasy scifi thing, a green woman with an extra breast. But four would be weird. Graeme's like, "that's just sick!"
Who did the cover art for Jelva?
Pegg: Jason Brashill and Jim Murray have been our artists since Spaced. I played a comic book artist in Spaced called Tim. And all Tim's comic books were drawn by those guys so they did all the artwork for Paul.
How much did Paul change from writing to filming?
Frost: Whenever we thought about Paul we always imagined Rip Torn. he was a much older character and he was a lot angrier as well. And that was reflected in his look as well, we wanted the very classic gray with the big black eyes... We just found that he was a bit too angry and he was a bit too alien for potential audiences to warm to. Especially when you cast someone like Seth, he then becomes something completely different. And you have to trust in Seth to bring what he brought to Paul. And I think that is a great warmth and someone that you kind of want to hang out with. Which is a bit like us and Seth we kind of want to hang out with him.
What made you want to make an alien movie parody?
Pegg: We just like alien films. We didn't want to parody it. I don't think the film is a parody in a way. We don't have anything particularly to say about science fiction. It exists in that world, it just happens to be comedy the same way that Shaun of the Dead is a zombie film, it just also happens to be a comedy. That doesn't make it a parody of zombie films.
Frost: We're big fans of scifi you know. And if you're going to stick to the "write what you know" adage, this is what we know.
Pegg: We know about this shit.
Video by G. Jesse Martinez