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Mission possible for Simon Pegg

SimPegg (left) plays tech expert Benji Tom Cruise plays Ethan Hunt “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol”

Simon Pegg (left) plays tech expert Benji and Tom Cruise plays Ethan Hunt in “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol”

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Updated: February 4, 2012 11:29AM

Until recently, Simon Pegg was known best in America as the star of the zombie comedy “Shaun of the Dead.” But that’s changing as the masses catch the British actor as tech whiz Benji Dunn in “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol,” the biggest hit of the holiday season.

Not that the newfound fame will affect Pegg’s life. “I don’t involve myself in a celebrity lifestyle,” he says. “I’m not famous for being me, which is so much nicer than being famous for no reason other than that you’re a celebrity. It’s the roles that make me sort of interesting.”

Pegg also has a voice role as Thompson in “The Adventures of Tintin” and getting ready to return as Scotty in the next installment of “Star Trek.”

Q. You were in “Mission: Impossible III” and joked with director J.J. Abrams that if there was another movie you wanted a bigger part. Is this a case of getting what you ask for?

A. It was really a pipe dream. We were kidding. Then on the set of “Star Trek,” we were saying, “Wouldn’t it be great if Benji was some bada-- agent?” I was surprised and delighted when I heard that I would be back as a bada-- agent.

Q. But you didn’t hang off tall buildings like Tom Cruise did.

A. I did run down a very steep flight of stairs 14 times in a row. Try it. You use muscles you never use. I couldn’t even walk the next morning because my thighs were so strained. Then I got the bad news that the lab ruined the film and I had to do it all over again. But I still can’t call anything crazy when you see someone like Tom jump off the tallest building in the world. I don’t think I’d ever do that for any film. It’s not that I’m scared of heights. I’m just scared.

Q. Is the purpose of this “Mission: Impossible” for Cruise to hand off the franchise to younger stars like you and Jeremy Renner?

A. I think that might have been the feeling early on. There was a vibe of setting it up for the next generation. But then we had so much fun making the movie and Tom enjoyed the process so much. By the end, everyone was like, “This team has so many more stories to tell.” If there is a “Mission: Impossible 5,” I think it will still be very much about Ethan and his team. I know I’d be disappointed if Tom Cruise wasn’t in it.

Q. What’s the latest word on the “Star Trek” sequel?

A. It’s all a “go.” I’m preparing to fly out to L.A. in the new year and start working on “Star Trek.” I can’t wait to get back to it. I do love Scotty and it’s so much fun playing him. I love the way he was portrayed in the last film. Scotty is slightly annoyed. He has been abandoned on this planet. Now, he’s abroad the Enterprise looking after this big sexy ship.

Q. Fans of “Shaun of the Dead” are clamoring for another installment. Any progress?

A. We’ve stared writing a third installment in the series and I just finished a draft of it. It’s called “World’s End.” Basically, it’s a story about aging. “Shaun” was about growing up and learning responsibility. “Hot Fuzz” was about not taking yourself too seriously.

This new film is about turning 40 and our concerns in our own lives. It will make the threee films a trilogy. Just think of this new one as “Shaun” times “Hot Fuzz” equals the new film.

Cindy Pearlman

Big Picture News Inc.

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