Simon Pegg is living every nerd's dream: He grew up watching Star Wars, Star Trek and horror movies, then started making movies of his own. He played Scotty in the new version of Star Trek and is starring in Steven Spielberg's latest, Paul.
We've invited Pegg to play a game called: "And he makes a poke check while head-deking in the crease!" Three questions about an obscure little game called "ice hockey."
Originally broadcast June 18, 2011.
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
Summer means summertime movies. And back in June of 2011, we interviewed an actor who not only stars in them, like the "Mission Impossible" movies and the new "Star Trek," but grew up watching them, just like we did, although, he took it a bit far.
CARL KASELL: Simon Pegg joined us, along with Mo Rocca, Faith Salie and Luke Burbank, and started by telling us about his intimate relationship with Princess Leia, who he kissed every evening.
SAGAL: When you were growing up, you write about how much, for example, you loved "Star Wars." And you tell a story about how you kissed your picture of Princess Leia ever night before going to bed.
SIMON PEGG: I did, very sort of chivalrously. There was no clinginess and it wasn't like a big snog, which is, you know, like a French kiss. I just used to plant a small peck on her lips every night before bed.
FAITH SALIE: Aw.
MO ROCCA: That's really sweet.
SAGAL: Sort of like the one she gives Luke in the first film, of course.
LUKE BURBANK: Thank God, too, because we find some stuff out about that relationship.
SAGAL: Yeah, I know.
PEGG: Yeah. It's not like I was kissing my sister. That would be weird.
SAGAL: Yeah, I know, that'd be awful.
SAGAL: And I love the story you tell. You were at a Comic Convention in 2004. Your own movie, "Sean of the Dead," which I can say with confidence, is the funniest zombie movie ever made.
PEGG: Thank you.
SAGAL: You were there.
PEGG: Eat that, "Zombie land."
SAGAL: Yeah, I know, exactly.
SAGAL: And I love the story that you were like signing autographs for fans of your movie and you got up and you ran over to stand in the line to get an autograph from Carrie Fisher.
PEGG: I did. I hacked off a whole bunch of people that had queued up to, that had lined up to pay fifteen bucks for my autograph and I joined a line that they were in. And they turned around, "What the hell are you doing here? I just paid to meet you."
SAGAL: Are you allowed to do that? Can you cross that line? Because you're really confusing the categories aren't you? I mean you're not supposed to...
PEGG: Well, yeah, I mean that's the thing, that's the whole thing is that I'm a fan of films and stuff and just because I'm working in them doesn't mean I don't get excited when I get the chance to meet Carrie Fisher.
And I sort of, I wandered over and lined up and waited about an hour and I came face to face with her. And I told her that story, that I would kiss her picture before bed every night. And she sort of looked at me with a slightly worried look in her eye.
PEGG: And she said, "Do you feel better for telling me that?"
PEGG: I just said, yes, thank you, and I walked away.
SALIE: Have you ever actually been star struck?
PEGG: You know, I had another "Star Wars" experience. At Comic Con last year, I'd just come off from my own panel. It had gone very well. The perfect time to meet someone I admired and be like, you know, I'm clearly an industry professional and not just a fan. And I bumped into Harrison Ford coming from the stairs. But instead of sort of like introducing myself as a fellow movie actor and artist, I giggled and just ran away.
SAGAL: And understand that, like, "Star Wars" played an important role. I mean you were under anesthesia and "Star Wars" somehow brought you out of this.
PEGG: Yes, my mom has it on a list of things to do in case I ever go into a coma.
PEGG: I was in a hospital. I was having a birthmark removed when I was a kid. I had a little mark on my head that they whipped off. And I was under anesthetic and somebody was watching "Star Wars" on the ward, and the sound of R2D2 screaming brought me out of my anesthetic.
SAGAL: I know this is difficult for you, but you write about a lot of personal things in your book and this is one of them, and it's a bit of a trauma. I wanted to talk to you about the "Star Wars" prequels.
SAGAL: They were hard for you.
PEGG: I think they were hard for a lot of people.
SAGAL: They were.
SAGAL: Yeah, I know. So this was tough.
SALIE: Jar Jar Binks.
SAGAL: You'd grown up with "Star Wars." You'd wrote your thesis about it. And you go to the theater, as I'm sure, like say, for example, I did, so excited and there you are.
ROCCA: Peter, I feel like you're living vicariously through Simon now.
SAGAL: I am.
SALIE: I know; this is like listening to you being in therapy right now.
SAGAL: No, I think we're doing good work here and I think we need to let Simon talk.
ROCCA: How did that make the both of you feel?
PEGG: Oh god, don't.
SAGAL: All right. OK, what would you say if George Lucas called you and asked you if you would consider playing the young Jar Jar Binks in another prequel?
PEGG: There aren't curse words bad enough for what I would say.
SALIE: Simon, you sound like such a normal guy, but you're in all these amazing movies. Do you ever have like a movie star diva moment?
PEGG: I killed a bunch of people.
SAGAL: And he got away with it. Why? Because he's a movie star. They can do that. They get like, what, five kills before they get in trouble. I think it's like a thing they do.
PEGG: I can't wait for number five.
SAGAL: Your book is called "Nerd Do Well." Is there anything out there that's too nerdy even for you? Have you ever met somebody who's in some culture or subculture so weird you're like "oh my god, that's just too strange?"
PEGG: Babylon 5.
SAGAL: You draw the line at Babylon 5?
PEGG: You can be nerdy about lots of things. You know, you can be nerdy about food and football and all sorts. You know, there are sports nerds that I don't understand.
SAGAL: Right. What's the point with sports? They never fly, for example. That seems always disappointing to me.
PEGG: Well, with the Canucks, you know those people cared a lot. So much that they destroyed their own city.
BURBANK: That is a weird reaction, right? I'm so sad my team lost.
PEGG: You know, I've been to a Canucks game. I went to a Canucks game last year and I got it, I completely got it, and I think they were that close. I would have been annoyed.
BURBANK: So much so that you would have thrown a tire iron through a Starbucks' window?
PEGG: Oh yeah.
SAGAL: It's true, though, you don't see "Star Wars" fans rioting because the rebels lost the battle of the ice planet of Hoth, do you?
PEGG: You should have been in the theater I was in when the "Phantom Menace" was on. Believe me, there was...
SAGAL: Well, Simon Pegg, we're delighted to have you with us. We have asked you here to play?
KASELL: And he makes a poke check while head deeking in the crease.
SAGAL: You have no idea what Carl's talking about most likely, because he's talking about hockey. This is a sport that's a bit like soccer, played with sticks on ice. And this week they had a big game of some sort. So we thought we would ask you three questions about this very real and interesting sport, which has fans all over the world, including outside Canada.
PEGG: I'm going to ace this. I went to one game once. This is going to be - you just picked the wrong subject. I'm going to know everything.
SAGAL: You went to a hockey game once.
PEGG: Yeah, Tom Cruise took me to a hockey game. How about that?
ROCCA: Oh wow.
SAGAL: Wait a minute.
ROCCA: You dropped something.
BURBANK: Yeah, don't hit your foot.
SAGAL: Tom Cruise took you to a hockey game?
SAGAL: Did he just call you up out of the blue and say let's go see some hockey? How did that come about?
PEGG: No, we were doing "Mission Impossible" in Canada and the Canucks were playing, so we went to see them. And it was a lot of fun. I can't understand anything that happened that night because it was confusing and there were lots of men fighting and it was cold.
ROCCA: And Tom Cruise was jumping on the seat in front of you.
PEGG: We had fun. Tom had to explain everything to me bit by bit. He used to play hockey, so he was able to sort of - I still don't get it though.
SAGAL: I'm sorry. My brain just shorted out.
SAGAL: All right. Anyway, well that's OK, because if you get two questions right, you will win our prize for one of our listeners, Carl's voice on their voicemail. Carl, who is Simon Pegg playing for?
KASELL: Simon is playing for Joseph Trebing of Manassas, Virginia.
SAGAL: Here's your first question, Simon. Hockey goes back quite a long way. Back in 1916, in fact, there was a Canadian hockey team with the official name of what? A: the Edmonton Swastikas. B: the Toronto Foaming Mooses? Or C: the Vancouver Fungi?
PEGG: I know this.
SAGAL: All right.
SAGAL: If you want to take a second to call Tom Cruise, you can. I'm sure he'll know.
PEGG: I'm going to go with B.
SAGAL: You're going to go with B, the Toronto Foaming Mooses?
SAGAL: It was actually the Edmonton Swastikas.
SAGAL: Did you know?
SALIE: How did you know that?
ROCCA: No, the reason I knew that is because it would be really nasty for you to entrap someone into saying something like that if it weren't the answer. Like, you know what I mean?
SAGAL: No, no.
ROCCA: It would be really nasty if he had said like oh, the Edmonton Swastikas. Then we would have all been like "why did you think that?" It's the wrong answer.
ROCCA: So it had to be the right answer.
SAGAL: You're right, I wouldn't be that mean. But yes, it was the Edmonton Swastikas. It was a girl's hockey team.
And I want you to picture 1916, all these nice proper Canadian girls sitting there with their hockey sticks and their sweaters with swastikas on them. Because we all know, until it was ruined by some people we won't mention, the swastika was actually a perfectly acceptable symbol and used all over the world. So, you know, just funny crosses, no biggie.
SAGAL: All right, you have two more chances here.
ROCCA: It's very hard to goose step in ice skates.
SAGAL: It is. This is your second question. The winner of the Stanley Cup gets to keep the trophy for a year. So, for example, the Boston Bruins, who just won, each member of their team will carry it around with them for a period of time.
SAGAL: After his team won the cup in 1996, one member of the Colorado Avalanche used it to do what? A: brew beer. B: baptize his daughter right in it. Or C: catch rain from a leaking roof in his house.
ROCCA: Oh, I hope it's B. Oh sorry, I'm not playing. Sorry.
SALIE: Me too.
PEGG: I can't get those sexy Nazi skaters out of my head.
SAGAL: I know; it's terrible.
PEGG: It's B again. I'm going with B.
SAGAL: You're right. He baptized his daughter.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: To our knowledge, two hockey players to date have used it to baptize their children. The last question...
ROCCA: How big is it? How big is it?
SAGAL: It's big enough that you can fill it with water and dip your baby in it.
ROCCA: But, you know, Baptist kids don't get baptized until they're like 13 or 14, right. So that would be difficult.
SAGAL: That would be hard, I think.
SAGAL: Last question, if you get this right, you'll win it all. Hockey is enjoyed by a few isolated enthusiasts in most of the world, but it is quite popular in Canada.
In fact, it's so popular in Canada that one of these things is now true. A: hospitals in British Columbia had to stop surgeons from talking about hockey during surgery. B: the number one first name give to baby boys in the year 1987 was Gretzky. Little Gretzky McKenzie. Or C: a law was passed making body checking in grocery stores illegal.
PEGG: I'm going to go with A.
SAGAL: A, hospitals in British Columbia can't let the surgeons talk about hockey?
SAGAL: You're right. That's the problem.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: They found out...
SAGAL: That surgeons were talking about hockey too much. They were getting distracted. So they had to stop. Congratulations. Carl, how did Simon Pegg do on our quiz?
KASELL: He had two correct answers, Peter. That's good enough to win for Joseph Trebing. Congratulations, Simon.
SAGAL: Simon Pegg is a writer, actor and author of the new book, "Nerd Do Well." Simon Pegg, thank you so much for playing our game.
PEGG: Thank you, guys. Thank you very much.
SAGAL: Thank you, Simon.
SALIE: Bye, Simon.
SAGAL: Great to talk to you, take care.
PEGG: Thank you. Bye.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.