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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Simon Pegg's career took him from playing himself to playing an alien junk trader

In the latest installment of GQ’s “Celebrities Break Down Their Iconic Roles” series, Simon Pegg takes a trip down his own IMDB page to discuss the biggest performances of his career. While the British-born actor is best known these days for his supporting roles in blockbuster sci-fi and action franchises, he found early success playing slightly heightened versions of his own nerdy self.


“Tim was kind of an extension of who I was at the time—a bit of a sci-fi geek, comic book fan,” Pegg says, describing his character Tim Bisley from the late-90s British sitcom Spaced, which he wrote with co-star Jessica Hynes. It was on that show that Pegg really solidified his partnership with director Edgar Wright and, after being inspired by a Resident Evil-style zombie sequence they shot for the show, the two went on to make their first breakout feature, Shaun Of The Dead. Though the surrounding horror-comedy mayhem of that film is far from reality, Pegg says the title character is still “semi-autobiographical,” based on he and co-star Nick Frost’s penchant for staying in most nights at the village pub.

In the years since, Pegg has landed roles that have taken him farther and farther from the comfortable reality of rural English villages. He’s helped Ethan Hunt get the tech specs he needs to perform the insane stunts of the Mission Impossible franchise. He’s put on his best Scottish accent to play the USS Enterprise’s chief engineer in the new Star Trek films. He’s even—with a little help from a synthetic fat suit and CGI mask—played an alien scrap metal merchant Unkar Plutt in a galaxy far, far away. “I hope I’m not spoiling it for anyone that Unkar Plutt in Episode IX will become something of a significant character,” Pegg deadpans. “He is actually the Force and as such means more than any other Star Wars character. Particularly Hans Olo, or Chewdabaccan, or Luke Scrapwalker.”

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