He may be one of the funniest British actors and writers of his generation, but when it comes to directing commercials, Simon Pegg has some serious principles. The actor, writer and star of “Shaun of the Dead,” and the forthcoming “Mission: Impossible 7” has just signed to the production roster of Ridley Scott’s RSA Films for global commercial representation. But, speaking to Ad Age at the inaugural U.K. Creative Festival in Margate, England, he wanted to make clear that there are some areas he won’t touch.
“I would never do gambling, drinking, anything that hurts people or is detrimental to people’s way of life,” says Pegg. “But I would happily get involved in something that would enrich people’s lives.”
“If I direct a commercial, I want to believe in the product. You want to believe in it so you can sell it honestly. So, if it was something like say an electric car, where you think, everybody should be participating in this thing because it’s positive, then you’re invested.”
Pegg can afford to be selective; since his beginnings on offbeat U.K. TV comedy “Spaced,” he’s experienced enormous critical and popular success. From both acting in and writing cult comedies such as “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz,” he graduated to roles in huge Hollywood franchises such as “Star Wars,” “Star Trek,” and “Mission: Impossible.” (And his refusal to touch alcohol advertising has personal resonance; having suffered from addiction, he is now sober.)
Pegg’s desire to direct ads comes across as genuine rather than just a lucrative sideline.
“What I really want to do is direct, whether that’s episodic TV, commercials or features,” he explains. “It’s something I really want to make part of my life. The idea of making short, impactful films really interests me. And I feel like this is great space in which to do that.”
Earlier, being interviewed on stage by Uncommon co-founder Nils Leonard at the Festival, Pegg explained that the shorter time frame of advertising shoots is also appealing. “I’ve just spent a year filming 'Mission: Impossible 7,' so three days seems like a dream.”
Pegg and Leonard appeared as part of the program of the U.K. Creative Festival, which included the 76th Creative Circle Awards and is committing to helping create a more diverse and representative workforce by establishing a free-to-access careers fair.