'Into the Badlands' Recruit Nick Frost on Giving Simon Pegg an Atomic Powerslam
Frost — currently filming wrestling-themed 'Fighting With My Family' — says his own wrestling move would definitely involve tea.
Into the Badlands, AMC’s genre-bending post-apocalyptic martial arts drama (try saying that five times fast) returned with a bang earlier this month, the first two episodes of season two earning largely rave reviews across the board.
Added to the action is a major new character, Baiji, being played by Nick Frost, the British actor famed for his comedy collaborations with old friend Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Paul), and, more recently, The Huntsman: Winter’s War, Doctor Who and the upcoming TV comedy with Rupert Grint, Sick Note.
The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Frost, who's gearing up to film his next major project, wrestling comedy-drama Fighting With My Family — which smashed records at this year’s European Film Market where MGM laid out a reported $17.5 million for film — starring Dwayne Johnson, Lena Headey and rising Brit actress Florence Pugh.
Taking time out of the ring — where he was "being smashed up by big, ugly, one-eyed, hairy Brits," — Frost talked about his new Into the Badlands role (“somewhere between Lando Calrissian and Han Solo”), giving Pegg an Atomic Powerslam after too much sherry (and coming out far worse) and what his own wrestling move might be (hint: it involves a cup of tea).
Into the Badlands seems to kicked off with a loud bang…
Yeah, it’s been amazing.
Were you a fan of the show before? Did you watch the first season?
I didn’t. I didn’t have Amazon Prime. I had Netflix and others and I’ve have to remember another passcode and I kind of avoided doing that. I’ve never really wanted to do American TV. It makes you nervous that you’ve got to sign on for five to seven years. I have a child. I never imagine that I’d want to be away from him that long. So I said I have an issue with this, this and this and they said, well, we’re going to shoot it in Ireland, or comically, we want you to do what you want. Every reason I had to say no peeled away. It was like, "Yeah, f— it, why not?"
So have you signed on for five years?
No, I was really lucky. I think my genius agents at UTA did a special thing for me, which was great. I hope it goes that long. It’s an incredible fun thing to shoot. It’s like…getting beaten up by men…hmm…you can see what’s happening here.
Does your character have an interesting story arc?
I didn’t realize until we were at it that it was being written as you go along, so I think I got the first three or four episodes. Once that gets shot then you’re guessing as much as anyone else what happens next. Which is great fun, you’re often joking around in the makeup truck saying, “I hope I’m alive in the next episode.” I found myself being really nice, bringing cakes to the producers, iTunes cards., cash gifts. But they really made it easy for me to work with the character. He’s a lovable rogue, somewhere between Lando Calrissian and Han Solo. You don’t trust him, but also you could trust him with your life.
Has it changed your attitude toward doing U.S. shows?
Well, only so much in that it’s shot in Ireland. And the commitment is only four months and I get home every weekend. It’s an hour to get back to my house. It couldn’t really be better.
How much fun is it to work with Stephen Merchant (co-creator with Ricky Gervais of The Office) on his new film, Fighting With My Family?
I don’t think I’ve had much more fun on a set than I’m having with this. Stephen’s a great collaborator and we try lots of things out. I’d never been on a set where all the cast and crew were laughing at the same time. We were just mucking about doing stuff in the ring. And being a tiny show, it drives you forward to try different things.
You’re playing a former wrestling manager. Are you a wrestling fan yourself?
Yeah, absolutely, I’ve been a wrestling fan for a long time. My wrestling stuff started in the late '90s/early 2000s with The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin and early Undertaker and Goldust and Hacksaw Jim Duggan. Me and Simon (Pegg) loved it. I actually sustained a very nasty injury wrestling Simon once in my bedroom.
I think it was around Christmas and we’d drunk a bottle of sherry each and began to tussle, like the (homoerotic) scene in front of the fire place from Women in Love. And then at one point I got Simon into a position where — and, to be fair, I did commit to it fully — I gave him an Atomic Powerslam. We ended up going through my bed, and my bed literally blew up. And when we stood up I found that my thumb was hanging off. It was severely broken and dislocated.
And did Simon come out of it OK?
Oh f— yeah. He always does, all the time.
What would your wrestling name be?
Would you have a special wrestling move?
I think it would be Storm in the Teacup, where my finishing move is that I throw a cup of tea in someone’s face. It would have to be a cup and a saucer but the ones they release when [former Royal couple] Fergie and Andrew got married. You’d dash it in the face and while they’re screaming "my eyes my eyes," you’d duff them up with a saucer.
You’re not filming any scene with (Fighting With My Family co-star) The Rock but have you met him?
Once the deal was signed, he released the info on his Instagram and on Twitter and said some very nice things about me and Lena. The power of The Rock was such that I got 8,000 more Instagram followers in 24 hours. It was kind of weird, because when you see it literally going up in the hundreds it feels like someone’s gotten hold of a sex scandal and you haven’t found out about it yet.
Any further collaborations coming up with Simon Pegg? Could there be another Cornetto Trilogy around the corner?
Yeah, absolutely. Once Edgar (Wright) puts Baby Driver, which looks amazing, to bed. We’re always talking about something. We’ve got some good ideas. And those things don’t really go away. A good idea is a good idea. Me and Simon are working on something right now. But it’s not what you think.
It’s not like a film…. But it’s not us starting a zoo. Or waxworks.