You may know him as Ed from the 2004 film “Shaun of the Dead” or the voice of Flynn from “Ice Age: Continental Drift.” But even though he’s mainly known for his roles in British comedies and being Simon Pegg’s closest pal, Nick Frost has teamed up with Vince Vaughn and Dave Franco in “Unfinished Business,” which was released in theaters March 6. Keep reading if you want to hear all about Nick’s latest American film, how he prepared for his role, how he balances out being an actor and a family man and his plans for the future.
You’ve starred in various British comedies. However, “Unfinished Business” is more American. To you, how do the comedic styles differ, and if they do, how does that influence how you approach a role?
I think, generally, even though obviously a script is always going to be important for a film, for a movie, I think over with you guys, you’re always keen to improvise a little more and find things in the script that perhaps weren’t there before. I think, as an actor … you have to come on set A) knowing your lines but B) knowing that at one point, that script’s going to go away, and you get to freewheel it slightly. It’s good doing improvisations with actors who can do improvisations. A lot of improv always ends up with people having an argument, and it’s kind of ego-driven in terms of sometimes one actor doesn’t want to let the other actor get the last word in a scene. It can become very confusing, but everyone on this picture was very generous in terms of improvising.
What got you into acting? Is it something that you knew you wanted to do from a young age or did your interest in it develop over time?
I never, ever wanted to act. I never wanted to be a performer in any way, shape or form. I think a younger me probably wanted to be a novelist, if I’m honest, or a painter. You know, an artist. I never wanted to do what I do now. But I had an opportunity about 12 years ago to be in a sitcom that Simon (Pegg) had written and Edgar (Wright) was going to direct and I kind of came away from that process really, really loving it and seeing it as an opportunity. And from that point on, I never really looked back. I guess acting for me was just essentially playing a big game of dress up and remembering words.
Is it difficult to balance out being a father with your career?
Oh, not at all. There’s no balance at all. It’s all about my son. He has to be No. 1 at this point. But I think I’m in a very fortunate position that I can bring my son to work. Not a lot of people do jobs where children are actively encouraged on set. He loves it. I don’t think I’m in a position where I have to choose, fortunately. I combine the two very easily and my wife is a fantastic mother, and I’m very happy that I kind of get the best of both worlds.
Can you tell us a little about your character Bill Whilmsley?
Yeah, big Bill Whilmsley, he’s just a bloody good egg. I think he works for a man who he sees as really horrible and that man is James Marsden, a man who in real life isn’t really horrible. He’s actually really beautiful. And I think he just decides that he’s had enough and he wants to make sure that the good guy comes out on top for once and he makes a stand. I like that about him and about the character. He’s jovial and a little bit sad and single and a bit lonely. But he picks himself up, and I love that, you know?
Can you relate to him in any way?
Yeah, I think Bill’s just the kind of everyman really, apart from the fact that he is kind of a leather-clad bear. And I think I can relate to his bear-ness and the fact that he just decides that he wants to do the right thing, you know. That’s not always necessarily the easiest choice to make. And I’m glad he makes it in the film.
What are your plans for the future?
Take time to develop things for myself and for other people, and to direct, and to potentially write a memoir, and just, you know, that kind of thing. I think I was really aware of the last four years. I’ve done quite a lot of films, and I just wouldn’t want anyone to kind of get sick of my angelic face. You know change up, take a couple of years out and re-emerge as something else, and I’m happy to do that you know.
[A version of this story ran on page 10 on 3/12/2015 under the headline “Q&A with British actor Nick Frost”]
Actor Nick Frost, known for his roles in “Shaun of the Dead” and other British comedies, stars in “Unfinished Business” with Vince Vaughn and Dave Franco.