If E.T. hung around earth a little longer, started wearing flip-flops and smoking pot, he might have ended up something like the title alien in “Paul,” the sci-fi comedy written by and starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost that comes out on Blu-Ray and DVD this week.
“The idea we had was that Paul had come to earth in 1947, and everything we know about sci-fi cinema had come from Paul,” Frost said, when Hero Complex interviewed him and Pegg about their long simmering bromance at the film’s South By Southwest Film Conference and Festival premiere in March. “It’s actually a smart way of ripping off every film ever by claiming that your character had inspired them.”
In “Paul,” which is directed by Greg Mottola, best friends Graeme Willy (Pegg) and Clive Gollings (Frost) embark on the ultimate nerd road trip, a journey to America’s UFO heartland. When driving through Nevada’s Area 51, Graeme and Clive have a close encounter with a slacker extraterrestrial who has lived on earth for 60 years, influencing sci-fi cultural figures like Steven Spielberg, who has a voice cameo in the film.
Originally, Pegg and Frost envisioned Paul as a grumpy, old alien, but when Seth Rogen was cast, the character took on a decidedly different turn. In this video from the Blu-Ray/DVD behind the scenes featurette, Rogen explains that his inspiration for the role was actually Neil Young, “someone who was aggressively kind of laid back.”
Casting Rogen was one step, getting Paul’s look right was another. “We wanted a very sophisticated special effect to exist in this mundane world,” Frost said. An early animation test of the character in the video below reveals how Paul evolved, getting younger and — as much as you can working outside your own solar system — more camera friendly.
– Rebecca Keegan
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