Although this week marks the first official U.S. release of the British sitcom “Spaced,” the show already has legions of devoted American fans, thanks to the bloody-good success of “Shaun of the Dead” and the wonders of region-free DVD players. As Tim and Daisy, marginally employed Londoners in their mid-20s, Simon Pegg and Jessica Hynes (nee Stevenson) are a sort of slack-world Ross and Rachel, making half-hearted stabs at their dreams while working off the previous night’s hangover.
Pegg and “Spaced” director Edgar Wright carried their brand of reference-heavy, geek-friendly humor through to “Shaun” and “Hot Fuzz,” but Hynes has kept a lower profile since the show’s second and final season in 2001, turning up most recently in the Sundance hit “Son of Rambow.” (She is currently appearing in Alan Ayckbourn’s “The Norman Conquests” at London’s Old Vic and preparing a BBC comedy show with Julia Davis, tentatively titled “Peppatit.”)
Tonight, Hynes, Pegg and Wright will host a screening of three “Spaced” episodes at the ArcLight Hollywood, followed by a Q&A with Kevin Smith. Tickets, which are free, are available first-come first-served on the day of the screening. The “Spaced” trio also will be at Comic-Con International doing a panel chat and Q&A Friday (12:30 p.m., Room 6A). There will be “Spaced” screenings at Comic-Con as well (Friday, 10:15 p.m. in Room 6A and Saturday, same time and place).
A Q&A with “Spaced” star Jessica Hynes.
It’s rare to see a character like Daisy, a strong, capable woman who’s also awkward, lazy and a bit of mess. Did you have a sense of trying to put a character into the world who hadn’t been there before?
That’s exactly what I was after. She was a character that I felt I had to do, and I had to do right. I felt a sort of duty and a responsibility to lovingly bring, an archetype if you like, but of a subversive and really unportrayed female, which is one that I know, that is basically me. I was very much coming from the place that human qualities are not gender-specific, that women are capable of courageous acts of bravery and total acts of idiocy, and, equally, men can be weak, two-faced bitches. It was a part I was desperate to write, and a show I was desperate to do.
It’s a strikingly un-vain performance. When Daisy is meant to look awful, you really allow her to look awful.
I never wore makeup. It was a really tiny thing, but I felt that it would have been a compromise to do it. It’s only a sitcom, but I felt so strongly that it would be undermining her, and me, if I did that. I suppose that was part of what she was about, that she wasn’t defined by her feminine wiles, either subtle or freakish. She was defined by her nature, her character, her humor, her interests and her energy.
How did you feel when you heard that McG [filmmaker and television executive producer] was executive producing a Fox pilot for an American “Spaced?” Were you worried they’d get Daisy wrong?
That was my first fear when I heard they were going to do the American remake. I had some contact with one of the writers, and I said, ‘Listen, good luck with it. But I will hunt you down and kill you if Daisy is standing there with her hand on her hip, going, ‘You guys!’ I will stick your eyes out.’ [laughs] That was one thing I was really clear about.
I would constantly watch things and go, ‘Oh, there she is, another foil. Another idiot. There she is, The Girl again.’ Even now, I struggle, even in great projects, where I’m in a role as that sort of facilitator, and I don’t get a chance to do good. I don’t get a chance to walk into the door frame, or fall comedically out of shot, or make a fart joke, when it’s taking every single atom of effort in my body not to do that.
How much did the way shows like “Friends” portraying the life of characters in their 20s influence “Spaced?”
I saw [Spaced] more as inspiration, as opposed to aspiration. I wouldn’t want to be part of anything that made anyone feel bad about themselves. I wouldn’t part of anything that says, [Valley Girl voice] ‘You can be kooky, but you can also be incredibly thin and incredibly beautiful, and you kind of ought to be.’ I really have a gut reaction to that.
To be honest, I didn’t like “Friends” when it first came out. But now, I’m liable if it’s on, I’ll watch it. I’ll chortle away. At the time, I was like, ‘What’s that? That’s going nowhere.’ I was, obviously, very wrong.
There’s a real melancholy to the end of the series. Tim and Daisy narrowly escape being forced out of their mid-20s idyll, but there’s a sense that it can’t last.
That was an experience that I was absolutely in at the time I was writing it, and partially while I was doing it, and sort of coming out of at the end. It was a love letter to that time, to those people, to me, to that world, which I only now realize that everyone was living in, in our bitty little ways. I felt lucky to be able to write at the time we did, with Simon, with Edgar, because it came better than we ever could have hoped for.
That leads to the inevitable question: Will there ever be more “Spaced”?
I want to do it. I make no bones about that. But it would require us to be in the same room for six months. Could Edgar do it? Probably in 2015. Simon has so many projects coming up. There’s always hope. Simon says, ‘Never say never,’ and I say, ‘Yeah, but when?’
Maybe Tim and Daisy will bump into each other again in an old people’s home, and there’ll be a little “Remains of the Day” moment. It’ll be “Spaced”-like fun, but with a load of 70-year-olds. That would be a laugh a minute, believe me. A laugh a minute.