Simon Pegg needs no introduction to the various worlds of fandom. Whether you know him through Edgar Wright’s Cornetto trilogy or his role as Scotty in the Star Trek films, Pegg is always a beacon of personality to have on screen. In more recent years, he’s continued to be a fan favorite in the Mission: Impossible franchise and also even joined The Boys, seemingly going down a dream checklist of starring in the hottest films and shows of today. This pattern of success is replicated in his voice-acting work as well, starting out small by either guest starring as a classic bounty hunter in Star Wars: The Clone Wars or a fellow spy in Archer. Fans probably associate most of his voice acting career with his role as Buck the Weasel in the Ice Ace series, but Simon Pegg is now taking a bigger leap into the world of animation with Skydance and Apple’s Luck.
The first major release of Skydance Media and Apple’s new animation deal, Luck sees Simon Pegg as Bob the Scottish black cat, a magical worker whose main job is to monitor all forms of good and bad luck. Along with the help of his fellow magical cats, co-worker Leprechauns, anthropomorphic pigs, and other lucky beings, all forms of luck are carefully taken care of and evenly distributed throughout the universe from an otherworldly utopia – think Pixar’s Inside Out meets Illumination’s Hop. Despite literally controlling his good luck, things are not all peaches and cream for Bob, as he accidently lets main character Sam, a young distressed human girl, into the Land of Luck and must find a way to get her out before he’s permanently exiled into the upside-down world of Bad Luck. Bob may not be the first animal or even Scottish character that Simon Pegg has played, but as he tells us in our exclusive interview, the creative process of Luck gave him a chance to move forward as a voice actor.
Following our conversation with film icon Jane Fonda on her role as the CEO of Luck in the film, we were able to find out how Simon Pegg hopes to grow his voice acting career and why he chose Luck as the next film to help him do so. In discussing his voice acting history, including his guest voice role as Dengar in Star Wars, it was impossible (pun intended) to ignore what could be coming next for him, and of course, the highly-anticipated release of Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One came into question. Suffice to say, what he had to say will be music to the ears of eager fans.
Firstly, your voice acting resume has seen a lot of growth within just the last few years. You’ve now gotten to voice characters in Star Wars, Ice Age, and even in The Boys. So I’m curious, what do you look for the most when being offered all these voice acting roles?
Simon Pegg: I don’t think you know until you see it, really. I don’t have a sort of criteria ready to go. Things come along, you look at them, and you make a decision based on what you see. I think with Luck, it was very much a visual presentation. They sent me a synopsis of the movie along with pictures of Bob and the Land of Luck. [The pitch] came at me through a visual approach and it just looked so inventive and fun. I felt like yeah, I would like to be involved with this.
Have you had to turn down voice-acting roles in the past because they didn’t offer you this level of presentation?
Simon Pegg: It’s difficult to say, really, because I feel like I don’t think so. Things come up and it depends, big movies will come up like Luck and then smaller things come about like doing a guest voice on Archer or doing [The Boys Presents: Diabolical]. So I guess not really sometimes, but it would also be in improper of me to suggest I say no to anything!
Seeing as your character in Luck, Bob the magical black cat isn’t the first animal you’ve voiced and he also certainly isn’t the first Scottish character you’ve played either…
Simon Pegg: Second animal! I was Buck the weasel in Ice Age, so I’ve done it before yeah.
Right, so seeing as you’ve played both animals and Scottish characters before, how do you avoid falling into tropes and still keep it fresh for both you as an actor and for the audience?
Simon Pegg: There’s a lot about Bob that the audience doesn’t know, in terms of who he is and what’s going on in his little world. I found that very appealing because it’s certainly a lot more than meets the eye. I think the chance to play a character who has something going on underneath the surface – who isn’t revealing all his cards straightaway – is always a really interesting part to play because you have to portray not only the surface, but you have to also play what he’s not telling you. That was a really interesting prospect with Bob because, obviously, as the film unfolds, you realize that he’s not entirely what he seems to be. So, in a sense, he wasn’t just another animal or Scottish character, which made it easier for me to jump into.
A lot of eyes are on Luck since it’s Apple’s first major release with Skydance Animation. What was your point of view on this? I mean, you can technically say that you had a small hand on the ribbon cutting for this new venture.
Simon Pegg: In some respects, it feels kind of like a natural progression for Apple, not least because of historically looking back at Steve Jobs’ relationship with Pixar. Apple is a tech company, and this is very much a technically beautiful movie. It was exciting, it felt nice to be doing something with a nascent kind of collaborative, really, in terms with Skydance and Apple. It’s always fun to be truly on the ground floor of a project.
So with there being an endless variety of original animated films to choose from right now at home, I have to ask, what specifically do you think Luck has over the streaming competition, whether that be visually or story-wise?
Simon Pegg: The visual palette of Luck, when I first saw it, I just felt like it was incredibly intricate. I mean, the Lands of Luck and Bad Luck, the way that they’re designed, they’re like a sort of organism but also still machine-like. The fine detail in the animation is really amazing in terms of how the two worlds work and are put together. The way that they move, the way that the people in the Land of Luck interact with each other, similarly, with Bad Luck. It’s the visual fantasy of it all with these extraordinary concepts, I was really fascinated by the lore of it.
But Luck is underpinned by a beautiful message about the importance of love and trust, and also selflessness. These are things that we need to instill in our children, you know? I think anything which gets that across in a way that is entertaining and fun – but leaves kids with this idea that, “Okay, it’s important for me to put love out into the world because that’s how you get good luck” – is worth your time. That’s why if you put that energy out into the world, it comes back to you in a positive way. [Luck] is more than just pure entertainment, it’s something a lot more nourishing.
We mentioned this at the beginning, how you don’t really know with voice acting until you actually do it. So having now finished Luck, do you feel like you took something new out of this as a voice actor?
Simon Pegg: I think you learn on every single job you do, and working with Peggy [Holmes] was really great fun because she was tirelessly encouraging in the way that she directed. At the end of every take, she would always laugh, it would always help keep your energy up, which was great. Hopefully, I learned how to be a better voice actor doing this. I hope that I improve with every job I do. Luck was an interesting experience because I did most of the recordings from my home because of the pandemic, which was a nice commute for me, obviously. But yeah, I just hope that whatever I take from this experience, I can take forward into the next thing I do, like maybe Luck 2 (laughs).
Bit of a throwback but I remember hearing you play Dengar on The Clone Wars all those years back, and you’ve since come much further in your voice acting career. Do you have any more aspirations or goals that you want to check off in voice acting?
Simon Pegg: If you sat me down now and asked me that question, I would probably struggle to sort of think of something that’s just flashing in my head. You tend to kind of realize those accomplishments as they come in. It was great fun to voice a Star Wars character, you know, just because I literally grew up with Star Wars. It was quite special to be part of that world. But moving forward, I don’t know… I suppose someone has to have the idea before I realize that I want to be part of it (laughs).
I can’t end this without bringing up Mission: Impossible. After all the delays, what’s going through your head now that have a set release date that’s less than a year away? We’re finally seeing a finish line for Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One!
Simon Pegg: I’m very excited, obviously. I’m glad in a way, I think the success of Top Gun: Maverick has proven to everybody that the right decisions were made in terms of how things have been held back or delayed. Obviously, we need some separation between Top Gun and Mission: Impossible, but they dropped Top Gun at exactly the right moment for it to hit as powerfully. I mean, not least because it’s a great movie, but it just played so well in terms of getting people back in the theater. By the time Dead Reckoning Part One swings around next year, I think people will be fully back in the movie houses if they’re not already, and we’ll see something utterly spectacular that’s built specifically for the cinema.