Epiphany on St Aldate Street - Simon Pegg at the Cheltenham Literature Festival
FROM an epiphany on St Aldate Street to taking a phone call from Steven Spielberg at the family home in Abbeydale, Simon Pegg has had quite a journey.
The Gloucester-born Hollywood star was at the Literature Festival to talk about his autobigraphy ‘Nerd Do Well’.
The book charts his life from schoolboy comedian in Brockworth to working with some of the biggest names in the showbiz world.
His career so far has included writing and performing cult sitcom Spaced and smash hit films Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, and appearing in blockbusters including Mission Impossible III and Star Trek.
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Receiving a warm welcome back in his home county, Simon admitted his later success was hard to imagine when growing up in Gloucester.
He told the packed Town Hall: “When I went to see Star Trek at the ABC cinema in St Aldate Street in Gloucester, I did not realise that 11 films down the line I would be manning the Dilithium crystals on the Starship Enterprise.”
The event was sponsored by Gloucester’s King’s School, where Simon was a junior school pupil in the mid 1970s, but it was his time at Brockworth comprehensive that saw his natural talents blossom.
He said the quality of teachers at the school, including his English teacher Mrs Taylor, had made a lasting impact on him.
He said: “Teachers are so important they should be paid the same as doctors.
“There is a huge misconception that teaching is what you do when you stop doing something else.
“There people are shaping our future and they should be educated and trained like medics, and paid like medics.”
However, the biggest life changing experience of his youth took place in 1977, at the same ABC cinema, when he saw Star Wars for the first time - and was instantly hooked on Sci-Fi.
He said: “I was exactly the right person they were aiming the film at, and I was hit square on.”
The rest of the hour long-chat looked at his time as a stand up comedian, sitcom writer and actor, and the successful film career he has since carved out for himself.
However, he admitted he was concerned for the future of the film industry, especially after the Government’s decision to scrap the UK Film Council.
He said: “As soon as the coalition Government got in the first thing they did was to start attacking the arts.”
He added: “It is uncertain times, Hollywood is in a mess, budgets are being slashed.
“It is worrying when even Hollywood itself is in dire straits.”
Despite his fears for the troubled industry, Simon is keeping busy, with his new film Burke and Hare due out this month, and a role in Spielberg’s Tintin movie to be filmed next year.
The Brockworth youngster may have travelled a long way from growing up in the city, but it looks as if the journey is far from over just yet.