It's hard to imagine a film that had more future superstars in 2010 than Universal's Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Director Edgar Wright and stars Michael Cera and Aubrey Plaza spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about the one-of-a-kind experience, the intense training, the fond memories on the set, and how the film's endured after all these years as it celebrated ten years on August 13. Wright recalled during a screening of Shaun of the Dead (2004), Adam Siegel and Jared LeBoff from Mark Platt Productions approached him about the Bryan Lee O'Malley comic described as "John Hughes meets Kill Bill." "I think that's a pretty accurate description of the movie," he said.
Wright admitted the two things that drew him to the project was O'Malley's artwork and how it's an action film with emotional baggage. When Cera arrived on set, he was taken back to Wright's dedication from "storyboards, animatics, music cues, and fight sequence demos." "Edgar is very obsessive about his projects," he said. "His enthusiasm is very infectious. He's exactly what you want in a director." Plaza was drawn similarly to the project for similar reasons, but it wasn't without its awkwardness. "I had a funny first interaction with him," she said. "It was so last minute, it was like today or tomorrow, for this new Edgar Wright movie, and of course I was like, 'absolutely.' I'm not prepared at all, but I will be there. The actress of the time was also just cast in Judd Apatow's Funny People (2009) and the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation.
When Plaza arrived at her audition, she didn't realize Wright was in the same room. "I didn't realize that it was a director's session, which means that the director's running the audition," she said. "I had somehow skipped a bunch of levels, but I didn't know that. So when I went into the audition room, Edgar was in the room, but I didn't know it was him. I thought he was just like an assistant casting person." When he approached the actress, it took her by surprise. "And then he was like, 'You know that I'm the director,' right?' I was like, oh my god, no, I didn't know," she said. Wright called Scott Pilgrim an "embarrassment of riches," but also knew the opportunity he had working with such a young cast on such a special project. There was the opportunity with that particular story to really do something where you could have a new generation of talent — the age of the characters in the books was really young," he said. "It creates an interesting feel where, I don't think you really question it when you watch the movie, it's like, we're in this big city, and there's not a single adult in the movie."
Cera likened the experience to a year-long summer camp. "We would all wake up in the morning and do training," he said. "Beat the hell out of our bodies, then later in the day, we'd be rehearsing again." Wright found himself participating, and the entire cast, including those who haven't required any intense physical work in the film like Kieran Culkan, who played Scott's roommate Wallace Wells, participated. "I have this thing where I wouldn't make the actors do anything that I wouldn't do, so if there were any rigs, like flying up in the air," the director recalled." I would do it and sometimes video myself, or do it in front of Michael. The kids who weren't in the fight scenes felt left out that they weren't doing any of the training, so they just came along for the hell of it just to train. It was so fun. Seeing Michael and Chris Evans doing push-ups together is just… this is why you get into the business, for these, sort of, beautiful moments." Evans played one of Ramona Flowers' (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) evil exes Lucas Lee.
While Cera didn't relate to Pilgrim, he felt the film's cultural impact recalling the time a fan showed him his tattoo of Scott's doodle of Ramona on his arm. "I was walking down the street in Manhattan, and this guy called after me, and he rolled up his sleeve, and he had a Scott Pilgrim tattoo on his arm," he said. "This guy had a tattoo of that on his biceps; it was pretty cool." Plaza didn't have to go far to channel what ended up being Julie Powers initially developing her deadpan, dry sense of humor when she performed sketch comedy in the improve circuit. "I think Julie Powers was the most aggressively angry version of that deadpan, sarcastic character," she recalled. Since Scott Pilgrim, Plaza, remembered her earliest interactions had a degree of fan masochism involved. "My earliest memories were being in airports and having people recognize me and people wanting me to be mean to them or wanting me to yell at them," she said. "Now, looking back, it's really funny because it's kind of like, I could get away with being mean to anyone I wanted because they liked it." You can check out the rest of the piece where Wright credits how certain aspects of production made the film stand out and how Cera and Plaza feel Scott and Julie fare during the pandemic at THR.