SCOTTY'S GOT ME BEAMING; Simon Pegg explains how he had loads of fun playing Star Trek's famous Scottish engineer.
IT was a painful moment for Simon Pegg. Having strutted up to the premiere of Star Trek in full kilt and sporran, he was looking forward to his wife finally seeing him playing space's most famous Scot, James Montgomery Scott.
The evening was even more nervewracking since the main inspiration for his version of Scotty was his father-in-law.
But as his first scene drew near, wife Maureen had to tell Simon: "Beam me out, Scotty."
Simon's wife of four years - they married in Glasgow - is currently seven months pregnant with their first child.
And, in the end, the noise of her husband's blockbuster was too much for both mum and baby.
"She came to see the film," recalled the Run Fatboy Run star. "But she had to leave halfway through and wait in the foyer because it was so loud and the baby was kicking so much.
"She left just when I was about to deliver my best line. I said to her, 'I can't believe you care more about our baby than my iconic line!'"
Simon, 39, may seem a surprise choice to play Scotty - actors from James McAvoy to Dougray Scott had been touted to fill in for the late James Doohan in the new Star trek movie about the origins of the USS Enterprise crew.
Yet although Simon was born in Gloucester, the former stand-up comic has plenty of support north of the border - there are Scots in his family, he says, Maureen hails from East Kilbride, Lanarkshire, and most of her family are now based in Glasgow.
"We're always coming back to Glasgow," he said. "Maureen's family live around Maryhill, so we stay with them or in a hotel in the west end.
"As for the accent, I just listened to my father-in-law. He's a real Glaswegian, and while Scotty is supposed to come from Linlithgow, I figured that once he grew up, he went across to Glasgow where he worked in bars and was a bit of a brawler.
"And who is to say how much Scotty's accent could have changed after he went to work in space?" When Simon first got the role, fans were concerned that he'd been appointed to make fun of Scotty and the Scots.
But Simon said: "I understand why the fans were worried, but I was never going to turn Scotty into a joke, and Scots can be assured that I'm not going to make fun of him.
"I know James Doohan was Canadian, but he was very good at accents and I wanted to pay tribute to him and, of course, to Scotland.
"The interesting thing is that in Germany they don't even call him Scotty, because the accent doesn't translate when they play Star Trek over there.
"When we were doing the scene where Scotty first appears, I tried to use everything I knew about Scotland. I'm afraid that includes a line where he says 'Get tae f***'.
"I said it to appeal to my Scottish pals. I thought they would laugh about the fact that the first thing Scotty says is 'Get tae f***'. Obviously, because it's a 12 certificate, I didn't get to complete the sentence onscreen.
"The scriptwriters were great about changes. At one point, they had Scotty saying 'boyo' and I was allowed to step in and say no to that.
"I even tried to sneak in Scottish food.
There's a scene where Scotty's hungry and I got him to say, 'I want some square sausage.' It didn't make the final cut, but it was nice to bring authenticity to the film.
"I'm as serious as I can be about Scotty.
A lot of innovation comes from Scotland - the telephone, the television all come from a small country at the top of a small island, but the list of Scottish inventions is extraordinary. That's where Scotty is from, and that is who he is."
As a child, Simon used to watch Star Trek repeats at teatime, like any other sci-fi fan. Little did he know that 30 years later he would find himself on the bridge of the USS Enterprise.
In fact, he admits he pinched himself when Star Trek director J.J. Abrams, who previously gave Simon a small spot in Mission: Impossible III, sent him an email: "Do you want to play Scotty?" Surprisingly, however, Simon didn't accept straight away. "I was always going to say yes, but I replied, 'I don't think I can do that,'" explained the self-confessed movie geek.
"JJ said, 'OK, maybe next time,' to which I replied: 'Not so fast!' I went to live in Scotland for five years and studied as an engineer. I'm that Method," he joked.
"I used to love that in theWrath of Khan, we see Scotty playing bagpipes because basically they're saying that if you are Scottish, of course you are able to play bagpipes. That's hilarious, I don't know a single Scot who plays bagpipes."
Simon also got his hair dyed dark brown to match the look of the original Sixties ship engineer, and he says it was an honour to put on the uniform of Scotland's greatest spaceman.
"I felt damn sexy wearing it," he confessed, "and I took a lot of clandestine photographs in my trailer.
I also met Chris, James Doohan's oldest son, because he played one of the crew working in the transporter room alongside me. He was able to tell me about his dad and I was able to assure him that the joke about Scotty would never be at his dad's expense."
Eventually, however, Simon managed to compose himself whenever he stepped on to the set of a $150million Star Trek movie - although he admits to getting very excited whenever he was working with the original Spock, Leonard Nimoy.
"Star Trek didn't feel that much different from Shaun Of The Dead. It's the same sort of set-up, only the catering's better," he said.
"But the best acting I did was pretending to be cool when I was working with Leonard.
"The man's been a legend to me since I was nine, but I wanted to be his friend and his colleague on set. It was only on the last day that I finally managed to tell him what an honour it was to work with him and that I'd loved him since I was a child."
Star Trek will take Simon to a new galaxy of stardom, after the disappointment of discovering that his other Space hit was being remade in America without him.
The TV bosses had sold the rights to cult show Spaced to the USA without telling Simon or his co-star and series co-creator Jessica Hynes.
Understandably, Simon was delighted when the new Spaced flopped.
He said: "I saw the pilot and it was terrible. Everything about the show, it didn't get. It was gratifying in a way.
"In the end, it was rightly rejected and dropped. No disrespect to anybody in it, but it just didn't work."
After Star Trek, Simon will be seen in Steven Spielberg's The Adventures Of Tintin: Secret
Of The Unicorn, in which he and best friend Nick Frost play the Thompson Twins.
He says: "Daniel Craig and Jamie Bell are in it as well, and we all wore these special motion capture leotards because it's an animated movie.
"I thought Daniel would be all serious, but he's a funny guy and was all for messing around in those leotards, which are incredibly form-fitting. There's nowhere to hide."
Simon's fans will also be delighted to hear that he and Nick are about to make another one of their own movies.
Following in the footsteps of Hot Fuzz and Shaun Of The Dead, Nick and Simon will be playing comic book Greeks on a road trip across America.
His busy schedule means that Simon's most important role - fatherhood - will also begin in America, with Maureen set to give birth during filming.
"We have no choice but to have the baby in Los Angeles," Simon admitted.
" We've rented a place on one level so Maureen doesn't have to go up stairs. It does mean our baby can't play football for Scotland, unfortunately. But, on the other hand, they can run for president."
Star Trek is out now. Read Grant Lauchlan's review on Pages 50& 51.
STAR GAZING: Simon loved playing Scotty in the new Star Trek film, but his plans for the premiere, top left, didn't go to plan LAUGHTER LINES: In Run Fatboy Run, above, and Shaun Of The Dead
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|Publication:||Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)|
|Date:||May 8, 2009|
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