Simon Pegg on the set of ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens.’ The identity of his character has not been officially revealed.
After years of bitterness about the Star Wars prequels, Simon Pegg says he has found the antidote: J.J. Abrams. Pegg, who has a small role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (in theaters December 18), told the New York Daily News that director Abrams has made the franchise “genuinely magical” again.
“To knock out ideas with J.J. and every single day, whether you were on the set of something you recognized or a set that was brand new, it just felt like Star Wars in a way that I hadn’t felt in 32 years,” said Pegg, who also worked with Abrams on the Star Trek franchise reboot, where he plays engineer Scotty. (The “32 years” is a reference to the last Star Wars film Pegg liked, 1983’s Return of the Jedi).
That said, the British actor and screenwriter — a Star Wars superfan who frequently advised Abrams on the script — is still vocal in his loathing for George Lucas’s last three Star Wars films.
“I don’t really have any respect for anyone who thinks those films are good. They’re not,” Pegg told the newspaper. “[They’re] a monumental misunderstanding of what the [original] three films are about. It’s an exercise in utter infanticide … [like] George Lucas killing his kid.“
Yes, he used the word “infanticide.” But Pegg has never pulled punches when it comes to the prequels. Below is a brief history of Pegg’s rants about Jar Jar Binks and midi-chlorians.
2001: On his BBC sitcom Spaced, star and co-writer Pegg vented in character about 1999’s The Phantom Menace, yelling, "Jar Jar Binks made the Ewoks look like f–ing Shaft!”
2011: Pegg’s memoir Nerd Do Well described his relationship with the Star Wars franchise as “comparable, symbolically at least, to living with an abusive partner.” But he also described a positive meeting with George Lucas, who told him, “Just don’t suddenly find yourself making the same film you made 30 years ago.”
February 2012: Pegg signed on to voice the character of bounty hunger Dengar (first introduced in The Empire Strikes Back) in the animated series The Clone Wars, proving that he hadn’t given up on the franchise entirely. That same month, he argued with MTV After Hours host Josh Horowitz about whether The Phantom Menace had any merit. “Everything that was cool about Star Wars is destroyed, abused and left for dead by this ponderous, meaningless story,” Pegg declared. When Horowitz mentioned midi-chlorians, Pegg bristled, saying, “Don’t reduce the Force to some sort of viral blood condition!”
May 2013: Before anyone knew Pegg was directly involved with The Force Awakens, he told Total Film that J.J. Abrams would “bring the fun back” to Star Wars. “Lucas seemed to misread what made the first ones great, and concentrate on things that people didn’t really care about, or willfully ignore the things that people cared about,” he said, “Whereas J.J. will embrace them all.”
March 2015: In a Collider interview, Pegg said The Force Awakens would be “everything that we wanted 16 years ago and didn’t get.”
July 2015: For an MTV News segment, Pegg ranked all six previous Star Wars in under a minute, offering pithy summaries like, “The Phantom Menace was incredibly disappointing… we all know that because we went to see it and we all cried and it destroyed our life.“
Watch Pegg talk about his ‘Force Awakens’ cameo: