Comedian, actor, writer, and director Nick Frost may be best-known as Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright’s partner-in-crime in a series of hit action comedies. He faced zombies in “Shaun of the Dead,” secret cults in “Hot Fuzz,” and twelve pints of beer (plus aliens) in “World’s End.” Now, he’s lent his voice to the stop-motion animated film “The Boxtrolls,” which hits theaters this weekend.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Nick, it’s great to have you.
Nick Frost: Just another day in the office. Fighting zombies, and the occult, and robots full of blue ink.
Brendan Francis Newnam: What a great world you’ve created for yourself.
Nick Frost: Yeah — what a smashing treat. Hello!
Rico Gagliano: Emphasis on the smashing.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Well, we’re glad to have you here.
Nick Frost: Thanks for having me.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Your new film, “The Boxtrolls,” takes place in this orderly cobblestone village, but quickly, we learn that things aren’t as quaint or as cozy as they look — it’s a very twisted universe. and that’s true of a lot of films you’re involved with: Beneath the boring regular world, there’s this insane alternate universe. Where do you think that comes from in your work?
Nick Frost: Well, you know, I think if you live in a big city – I live in London – I think all of us somehow crave to find a kind of weird little Diagon Alley to get away, and to see what lies “beneath.” Do you know what I mean?
Rico Gagliano: But it’s very specifically not a wonderful, charming alternate world, often. It’s like: Aliens are attacking… People are zombies…
Nick Frost: Yeah. Well, I think with the stuff we made, you know… “Shaun of the Dead” came from a weird fantasy that the three of us had. You know, we’re big Romero fans, so what would we do if it happened here, you know?
Rico Gagliano: A zombie attack.
Nick Frost: Yeah. And my plan is the same now as it was then: I’d make for a stadium with turf. I’d make for a soccer stadium or a rugby stadium.
Rico Gagliano: Why turf?
Nick Frost: Well, you can actually turn the pitch into crops, you know, so you could plant crops. If you’re gonna be there for the long haul, then you need to eat, you can’t just rely on canned goods.
Brendan Francis Newnam: That’s a good point.
Rico Gagliano: And it’s kind of barricaded as well.
Nick Frost: Yeah: You can lock it all up, it’s all fully barricaded, you can sleep in the director’s boxes…
Rico Gagliano: That’s smart, but I still don’t think you’re gonna be able to sustain, you know, a large population.
Nick Frost: Yeah, but I’m suggesting… I’m not saying there are thousands of people in there. I’m saying it’s me plus a horny redhead, and the two of us are growing crops together.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Repopulating the stadium.
Nick Frost: Yeah.
Rico Gagliano: What about a “World War Z” scenario where the Zombies can come over the walls?
Nick Frost: Oh, then you’re kinda finished, innit? I’d just let them eat me.
Rico Gagliano: Okay, great. Um… This is not your first foray into voice work. You’ve been a voice in “Ice Age” and other animated films. You know, we’re radio guys, we have things that we do to get across a point when you can’t see our faces. Do you have any secrets?
Nick Frost: I mean, obviously, the only difference, and the biggest difference, is no one can see you, which means you can not wear pants during the voiceovers.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Exactly.
Rico Gagliano: It is the best.
Nick Frost: Which is amazing.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Don’t you feel great right now? We’re all pantsless.
Nick Frost: Yeah. Made me wish I’d actually worn underpants, to be honest.
Rico Gagliano: It’s a little chilly in here.
Brendan Francis Newnam: We wish you did too. You’re so hirsute it looks like you’re wearing pants.
Nick Frost: Yeah, it looks like I’m wearing, from the waist down, a Pan costume.
Rico Gagliano: Well, I guess it’s easy to see why we invited you here to answer our listeners’ etiquette questions. Are you ready for these?
These boxtrolls are actually quite well-mannered. Nick Frost’s character ‘Mr. Trout’ (not pictured) wrestles with the morality of catching them. Credit: LAIKA, Inc. / Focus Features
Nick Frost: Yeah! Do it.
Making a Good Impression on Space Aliens
Brendan Francis Newnam: So, the first question comes from Evan in LA. Evan writes:
“What’s the right first thing to do or say to an alien — or any unidentified specie –s whose intentions toward you are unclear?”
Nick Frost: I think the “unidentified species” thing throws it off slightly, because I think an alien…
Rico Gagliano: You would deal with an alien differently than you would other species?
Nick Frost: Yeah. I mean, I think, it’s not like you’ve seen a moth that you don’t recognize and you’re trying to say to it, “Hello! Hello!” Which would be weird.
I think an alien… I mean, I guess you would wanna get across that we are a peaceful race. (We’re not.) And that we probably wouldn’t cut him up to see how many hearts he has. (We will.) But, you know, I think you have to…
Brendan Francis Newnam: So, lie to him, basically.
Nick Frost:Lie. Just start off a relationship with a lie. I always think that’s a winner.
Brendan Francis Newnam: But it sounds like there is some wisdom in there, Nick: It sounds like what you’re telling Evan is, when an alien comes to you, do anything you can to not have it hurt you.
Nick Frost: Yeah! Yeah — the same with powerful adult chimps as well.
Rico Gagliano: So, just pretend you’re talking to a powerful adult chimp.
Nick Frost: Yeah. Treat it as you would a powerful adult chimp.
Rico Gagliano: That’s kind of how I move through life anyway, so —
Nick Frost: I think there’d be a lot less street crime if LAPD released 200 adult chimps, just on the street, and let ’em do what they want. People wouldn’t go out for fear of chimp —
Rico Gagliano: Yeah, it’s basically like a 24-hour curfew at that point.
Nick Frost: — Yeah, it’d be great!
Rico Gagliano: All right, there you go Evan in L.A. — that answers your question, I think.
Is It Politeness You’re Looking For?
Rico Gagliano: Here’s something from Davis in Toronto, Canada:
“My partner and I live in Canada, where politeness is important. A neighbor came around tonight gushing enthusiastically about seeing Lionel Richie in concert. My partner found this highly amusing, and immediately started singing ‘Hello’ and other songs from the Richie repertoire, loudly. My neighbor was unamused, and I don’t know what to say when I see the neighbor again. Should I apologize on my partner’s behalf? He is still finding it very amusing.”
Nick Frost: I’d say leave it.
Rico Gagliano: Don’t do anything?
Nick Frost: Yeah. Just don’t.
Rico Gagliano: What’s done is done.
Nick Frost: Yeah. The neighbor might have something going on we don’t know about. You know, he might have financial worries, he’s not necessarily…I think it’s very arrogant to assume that that guy was cold because your partner made a joke about him going to see Lionel Richie.He may be thinking about something else, you know? He may be having his car repossessed.
Rico Gagliano: It is Canada, they’ve got a lot on their minds.
Nick Frost: They’ve got a lot on their minds!
Brendan Francis Newnam: But I have to say, guys, we missed an opportunity here. Davis asked, “My neighbor was unamused, I don’t know what to say.” Shouldn’t he say, next time he sees his neighbor, “Hello — is it me you’re looking for?”
Nick Frost: Yeah, I mean… I think that’s how neighbors get shot.
Rico Gagliano: All right, so, whatever you do, don’t do that.
Nick Frost: Let it go.
Unsolicited Acupuncture Awkwardness
Brendan Francis Newnam: Okay, we have another question. This comes from Brenna via Facebook. Brenna writes:
“My very kind neighbor, who is an acupuncturist, saw I was walking in a knee brace. He told me to come over to his house and he would look at my knee. I’m a little squeamish, but I didn’t know how to say no, so I went. Before I knew it, he’d inserted ten needles, told me to sit still for 30 minutes, turned a blazing lamp on me, and then started playing ‘Swanee River’ on an electric organ. It felt like the set of a Wes Anderson movie, and I knew I was done with acupuncture. When he removed the needles, he said I had to come back in two days. What to do?”
Nick Frost: I’d just go back.
Rico Gagliano: I know! Is there really a question?
Nick Frost: I mean, I think you should’ve just said ‘no’ at the get go, at the top.
Rico Gagliano: Now it’s over.
Nick Frost: Well, you’ve done it now.
Rico Gagliano: Now you’re in.
Nick Frost: You know what to expect. And you never know, it might help. I mean, I think the weirdest part in all of that is the “Swanee River” bit.
Rico Gagliano: By the way, I got a massage recently, and you know how they always have music on in the background, you know?
Brendan Francis Newnam: No they don’t, always — where were you, at a strip club?!
Rico Gagliano: They said it was a massage parlor…
Brendan Francis Newnam: What were they playing?
Rico Gagliano:It was the soundtrack to a very sad —
Brendan Francis Newnam: Was it “Pour Some sugar On Me” by Def Leppard?
Nick Frost: The soundtrack to “Watership Down.”
Rico Gagliano: It was the soundtrack to this kind of sad movie, and it just kept playing over. It wasn’t a very long soundtrack, so I was hearing the same sad songs over and over again.
Nick Frost: Who wants a massage to the soundtrack to “Schindler’s List” in the background?! It’s so off-putting.
Rico Gagliano: It was a little weird.
Nick Frost: “The Nightmare on Elm Street” soundtrack.
Rico Gagliano: I don’t think I’m going back.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Well, you know what, guys? We answered Brenna’s question, but she said she needed to go back in two days. For all we know, Brenna…
Nick Frost: …is now dead.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Exactly.
Nick Frost: Brenna has now been eaten by the Swanee River Man.
Rico Gagliano: If you’re out there, please follow up with another letter so we know you’re alive, Brenna.
Nick Frost: and I hope your knee’s alright, I hope your knee gets better.
Rico Gagliano: There you are.
A Stag Do, Gone Geek
Brendan Francis Newnam: Nick, last question, and this comes from us — we ask this of each of our guests: What’s the most memorable get-together you’ve been to? Who, what, where, details please.
Nick Frost: Well, there’s a bunch, you know. And also, I’m not a big goer-outer; I’m not a big gang-of-men style person — nor is Edgar, and nor is Simon, really.
Rico Gagliano: That’s surprising, given the characters you sometimes play.
Nick Frost: Yeah, I mean, I’m an actor, that’s part of my job to create an illusion. I would say Simon’s stag do was kind of crazy. We went to a place in Belgium for two nights…
Rico Gagliano: This would be Simon Pegg’s stag party.
Brendan Francis Newnam: His bachelor party.
Nick Frost: Yeah; and that was just like a group of twelve men.
We have a really big football match in Britain each year called the FA Cup, and it’s our version of the Superbowl, essentially, and it’s a real big deal. And it happened to coincide — Simon’s bachelor party — with the FA Cup final. So I arranged the whole thing: I found and sourced a bar in Brussels, and I hired the whole thing, and I got them to put a giant TV in there so we could watch the FA Cup. But when we got there, Simon said, “I don’t really wanna watch the FA Cup. I’m just gonna walk about for two hours.”
Rico Gagliano: What?!
Nick Frost: He doesn’t really like football! But everyone else liked football. So, he went off for two hours and bought comic books and action figures. And he came back, and we were all hammered, and we openly chided him.
Rico Gagliano: This was the most memorable thing, is you got to make Simon feel like even a bigger geek?
Nick Frost: That’s it!
Brendan Francis Newnam: All right.
Nick Frost: Oh — and Martin Freeman was on the stag too, and so Simon came back with a Hobbit figurine that he’d bought, and then we all chided the Hobbit figurine too, because it looked like Martin! Because it was Martin!
Brendan Francis Newnam: Well, Nick, time to put your pants back on —
Nick Frost: Never!!
Brendan Francis Newnam: — because our etiquette segment’s over. Thanks so much for telling our audience how to behave.
Rico Gagliano: Thank you.
Nick Frost: A pleasure. I just hope I could be of some assistance.