Home Film Simon Pegg’s Top 10 Films and Characters, Ranked

Simon Pegg’s Top 10 Films and Characters, Ranked

by Conor O'Brien

Actor/writer/comedian Simon Pegg has played many memorable characters across different films. Here is Courageous Nerd‘s ranking of his top 10.

Simon Pegg began his acting career on television during the 1990s. Working with collaborators such as Edgar Wright and Jessica Stevenson, he became known for co-creating and starring in the sitcom Spaced (1999-2001). His other early television work included Faith In The Future (1995-1998), Is It Bill Bailey? (1998) and Big Train (1998-2002).

Since 2004, Pegg has become known for starring in successful films. Some examples are the Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy, comprising Shaun of The Dead (2004), Hot Fuzz (2007) and World’s End (2013). His other films have included successful worldwide franchises and smaller roles in a variety of movies.

Effectively, Simon Pegg has forged a broad body of work. Thus, it is likely that many of Pegg’s fans have different opinions over which film or character is his “best”. Please remember that this is an opinion – not a “right” or “wrong” answer.

10. Burke and Hare (2010) – “William Burke”

Directed by: John Landis

Written by: Nick Moorcroft, Piers Ashworth

Starring: Simon Pegg, Andy Serkis, Isla Fisher, Tim Curry

In this 2010 dark comedy, Pegg stars opposite motion capture master Andy Serkis. The pair play real life grave robbers and murderers, William Burke and William Hare. As depicted in the film, they are poverty-stricken immigrants from Ulster who arrive in Edinburgh during the 1820s.

Burke and Hare, while by no means a cinematic masterpiece, is very different from Pegg’s other projects. While both death and murder have been thematic elements in his filmography before, it is combined with a real-life grisly story. The macabre element of this film is completely different from The Cornetto Trilogy.

Furthermore, this is also an example of Pegg not working with his frequent collaborators – aforementioned Edgar Wright or his longtime on-screen partner, Nick Frost. Seeing Pegg inhabit an entirely different creative world and atmosphere makes for a nice change.

9. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) – “Unkar Plutt”

Directed by: JJ Abrams

Written by: JJ Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan, Michael Arndt

Starring: Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega

The seventh entry into the Star Wars franchise (and first since 2005), Force Awakens features a combination of returning beloved characters as well as new faces joining the fray for the first time.

Pegg plays a minor role in the film as Unkar Plutt, a parts dealer on Jakku. Rather than capitalise on the actor’s familiar face, he is obscured inside an alien costume. Plutt is more of a fun cameo than an actual meaty Star Wars role.

This is unusual aspect is one reason why Force Awakens is on this list. Another is the fact that Pegg is playing a rare villainous role. His character had a contentious history with Rey (Daisy Ridley), the female protagonist, who grew up on.

There’s also the sheer thrill of Pegg now starring in another iconic franchise. You may or may not see some of his other efforts further down…

8. The World’s End (2013) – “Gary King”

Directed by: Edgar Wright

Written by: Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright

Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan

In the final film of Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy, Pegg stars in the leading role of Gary King, an immature alcoholic. Gary reunites his more mature, now estranged childhood friends for a pub crawl… against the backdrop of alien apocalypse.

Although The World’s End is a good film, it is my least favourite of The Cornetto Trilogy. It had the expectations of Shaun of The Dead and Hot Fuzz to live up to. Unfortunately, in my opinion, it didn’t deliver.

I did enjoy the role reversal between Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, with the former playing the childish slacker and the latter being more straight-laced and adult-like. This change of dynamic was refreshing, rather than retreading ground that had already been covered in previous films.

7. Ready Player One (2018) – “Ogden Morrow”

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Written by: Zak Penn, Ernest Cline

Starring: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Mark Rylance

Pegg has a supporting role in this 2018 science-fiction fantasy adventure. He played Ogden Morrow, co-creator of software called OASIS, which everyone globally was using by the year 2045. Notably, there were two major differences to many of Pegg’s other characters – he wore old age makeup and had an American accent.

It’s hard to judge Simon Pegg’s performance too much in this, as he really is a supporting player, no pun intended. Okay, well maybe intended. However, without giving too much away, the ending revealed that Pegg had an even bigger supporting role than originally made clear.

It was an enjoyable film and Simon Pegg had a nice part in it. Ultimately, there are other movies that I liked even more, which explains Ready Player One‘s placement in this list.

6. Star Trek Series (2009-2016) – “Montgomery Scott”

Directed by: Various

Written by: Various (including Simon Pegg)

Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg

Pegg plays the role of Montgomery Scott in all three Star Trek feature films released between 2009 and 2016. He takes over the role originally played by James Doohan in the television series and also co-wrote the third film, Star Trek: Beyond, with Doug Jung.

Similarly to Doohan (who was Canadian), Simon Pegg is, of course, not Scottish in real life. However, his wife, Maureen, does hail from Scotland and presumably was able to help perfect the accent for Scotty. Fans online have the consensus that Pegg’s interpretation of a Aberdeen native is “passable”.

Having an actor with the experience and success of Simon Pegg in your supporting cast for three films is quite an asset. Pegg helps bolster what is already an impressive line-up, without being at the centre of attention.

5. Run Fatboy Run (2007) – “Dennis Dugan”

Directed by: David Schwimmer

Written by: Michael Ian Black, Simon Pegg

Starring: Simon Pegg, Thandie Newton, Dylan Moran, Hank Azaria

In this British-American comedy, Pegg plays Dennis Dugan, an overweight security guard who decides to run a marathon. This is to impress his ex-fiancĂ© Libby (Thandie Newton) and their son Jake (Matthew Fenton) while also showing up Libby’s new boyfriend, arrogant American Whit (Hank Azaria).

Once again, this is another Pegg comedy vehicle without the involvement of Wright or Frost. However, Irish comedian Dylan Moran, who had a supporting role in Shaun of the Dead, plays Dennis’ friend Gordon in Run Fatboy Run.

Compared to some of Pegg’s other role from around the same time, Dennis is a more endearing character. He’s a father and goes on more of an emotional character-based journey rather than a big-concept genre adventure. However, this film also has the misfortune to be compared with the Cornetto Trilogy, hence its placement at number five.

4. Paul (2011) “Graeme Willy”

Directed by: Greg Mattola

Written by: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost

Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Seth Rogen, Sigourney Weaver

Pegg and Frost co-wrote and co-starred in this 2011 science-fiction roadtrip comedy, without the involvement of Wright. Paul also starred Seth Rogen (voicing the title character), Sigourney Weaver, Kristin Wiig and Jason Bateman.

Although Pegg and Frost playing best friends is now a familiar dynamic, this adventure took their newest iteration across the pond. The characters’ professions as a writer and illustrator, respectively, are also the closest to their real life careers, in the creative field. Additionally, Pegg and Frost have a third companion this time around, albeit one who, in real life, is not actually there.

Seth Rogen imbues the alien, Paul, with recognisable qualities of his previous stoner characters . This unexpected combination of Pegg/Frost with Rogen works quite well, as opposites bouncing off one another. Furthermore, this is the only Pegg and Frost vehicle in which the latter played a role in writing the script, which adds another interesting dimension to how the pair play their characters.

3. Mission Impossible Series (2006 – present) – “Benji Dunn”

Directed by: Various

Written by: Various

Starring: Tom Cruise, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson

Pegg first played lab technician Benji Dunn in Mission Impossible III (2006) – after previously joking years earlier about starring in the then-future film. He has reprised the role in every Mission Impossible film since, transitioning to an IMF field agent role.

Starting out as a glorified cameo by ‘Shaun from Shaun of The Dead‘, Benji has become one of the series’ most pivotal and beloved characters. This is of course due to Pegg’s performance over the past fourteen years with the actor’s own likeability being transferred into the character.

2. Hot Fuzz (2007) – “Nicholas Angel”

Directed by: Edgar Wright

Written by: Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright

Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent, Timothy Dalton

The second entry of the Cornetto Trilogy, Pegg plays dedicated London police sergeant Nicholas Angel, who is transferred to Sandford, a small, rural village with a seemingly low-crime rate. Familiar co-star Frost appears as his new partner, Danny Butterman.

Hot Fuzz is an interesting to film to watch; it combines the classic American action thriller with a quaint English setting. It’s not a combination that should work on paper however Wright and Pegg pull it off. There are also familiar components from the pair’s other films including male friendship, epic shoot-outs and, crucially, a pub.

The supporting cast is a who’s who of British acting talent including Jim Broadbent, Timothy Dalton, Bill Nighy, Olivia Colman and Martin Freeman.

1. Shaun of the Dead (2004) – “Shaun Riley”

Directed by: Edgar Wright

Written by: Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright

Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kate Ashfield, Bill Nighy

Could another film really take top spot?

Shaun of the Dead launched not only Pegg’s film career but also that of Wright and Frost, while becoming a beloved pop culture/cult movie in the process.

The film catered to a wide audience – zombie horror/fans, people who enjoy romantic comedies as well as those familiar with British comedy, as Shaun is full of sitcom stars from The Office, Spaced and Black Books.

From beginning to end, the story is funny, tragic and hopeful with just a little bit of gore (courtesy of Dylan Moran) for the pure horror enthusiasts. In short, it’s a near-perfect film which is why I believe it deserves to be ranked in first position.

Simon Pegg does not have an active social media presence. However, for updates on the actor, you can follow @PeggNews on Twitter.

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