The very first time I saw the utterly brilliant SHAUN OF THE DEAD, I knew that Simon Pegg was going to be a major force. As a comedic actor, he is able to capture so much depth while still making us laugh at his follies. This wonderfully charismatic talent has shined in SHAUN, PAUL, HOT FUZZ, THE WORLD’S END and a number of big franchise flicks including MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL as well as STAR TREK. He continually impresses in his film work. And with his latest, , he transcends his comedy for a more dramatic, yet equally captivating performance.
It is always a great pleasure to talk to Mr. Pegg. When we sat down recently to chat about his latest, we went a little deeper than the normal 1:1 interview. We discussed how Hector’s journey almost became his own during the process. He talked about working with the lovely Rosamund Pike and why she – jokingly - didn’t want to meet one of the film’s co-stars. This was a fun and informative talk with this genuinely kind, intelligent and crazily talented actor. Make sure you look out for HECTOR AND THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS this Friday, September 19th.
So, how does freedom work? Not just the obvious freedom of a captive who finds their door unlocked. Recently, I watched the film Hector and the Search for Happiness, about a psychiatrist who searches the globe to find the secret of happiness. In one scene, Hector is held prisoner by African drug lords and is then released. He walks away slowly, like he’s afraid someone is going to shoot him at any moment. When he realizes he’s free, he begins to run and laugh and shout and dance. It’s exhilarating. He writes in his happiness journal that true happiness is freedom. And he’s right.
Films directed by Peter Chelsom
The irritatingly pat “Hector and the Search for Happiness” ignores this basic fact of life, pretending instead that a handful of cutesy, self-help rules can guide you toward permanent emotional fulfillment as reliably as instructions from a recipe.
It takes a particularly tone-deaf movie to begin with an ostensible critique of bourgeois white-male privilege, only to wind up reaffirming it in every particular, but that’s the trap that “Hector and the Search for Happiness” stumbles into again and again: Every non-Westerner Hector encounters is either a simple-minded saint or a pitiable lost soul, trotted out for a few beats to impart a life lesson or receive one. It’s hardly the ideal way to use Pegg, a reliably brilliant comic actor who manages a few engaging moments here, but never gets a grip on a character who must transform without warning into a bumbling idiot, a tantrum thrower, a sensitive caretaker or an emotionally stunted man-child, depending on the requirements of an individual scene.