'Hot Fuzz' at 15: Its best hidden cameos
Released 15 years ago this week, Hot Fuzz not only gave us the centrepiece of Edgar Wright’s three-flavour Cornetto trilogy, it also delivered some of the series’ most quotable lines.
“You’ve got a moustache”, “The swan’s escaped” and “yarp” are just three enduring favourites from the film’s 122 minute runtime. Yet brilliant one-liners aren’t the only thing crammed into Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s much-loved shoot-em-up.
Look again and you’ll see it’s packed with loads of great cameos — some hiding in plain sight and others a little trickier to spot.
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“Want to be a big cop in a small town?” Rafe Spall’s permanently-sarcastic detective Andy asks Pegg’s super-cop Nicholas Angel, “f*** off up the model village!” While Wright didn’t take that tactic exactly, the shoot for his 2007 follow up to 2004’s break-out Shaun of the Dead did bring him back to his small-town roots in Wells, Somerset.
It was this quaint West Country aesthetic that formed the backdrop for his very British take on the buddy-cop genre.
In it, we followed Pegg and his bumbling-bobby partner Danny Butterman (a name cherry-picked by Frost) as they attempt to solve a series of grizzly murders plaguing the fictional rural village of Sandford.
And it features more brilliant cameos than you can shake a truncheon at.
Straight off the bat we catch our first glimpse at the film’s many cameos. Well, sort of. During an opening montage that reels through Angel’s storied police career, we see him getting stabbed in the hand by a man dressed as Santa Claus — a character played by Middle Earth’s own Peter Jackson.
A big fan of Shaun of the Dead, the Get Back filmmaker just so happened to be in the UK during Wright’s Fuzz shoot so a Santa cameo was quickly set up. Look closely at this snappy opening scene and you’ll also spot Wright’s old mate Garth Jennings as a hostage taker. Jennings directed 2007’s Son of Rambo and 2005’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy — both of which contain complementary Wright cameos.
Cate Blanchett et al
Shortly after, when Angel goes to tell his ex Janine that he’s been transferred for making the rest of the force look bad, his former forensic crime-scene girlfriend is played by Cate Blanchett. Not that you’d be able to tell.
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Much like her fellow Lord of the Rings collaborator, Blanchett is hidden under heavy costume, wearing a forensic jumpsuit and mask. Her colleagues in the scene are wearing the same, including the person Angel first thinks is Janine — a character named ‘Not Janine’, played by Friday Night Dinner creator Robert Popper — and Bob, the co-worker Angel believes is Janine’s new boyfriend, played by Attack the Block helmer Joe Cornish (joining his Adam and Joe Show co-star Adam Buxton who plays local reporter Tim).
Yarp, that’s The Hound aka Rory McCann playing the monosyllabic Lurch prior to his Game of Thrones success, while Prevenge and Garth Marenghi’s Dark Place star Alice Lowe makes a brief appearance before Angel chases down a biscuit thief in a supermarket. Look closely at that same sequence and you’ll spot Wright in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it role as a lowly shelf-stacker, a nod to one of his pre-filmmaker jobs. Of course, you’d be forgiven for missing this one. After all, as Danny Butterman says, you’re not “made of eyes.”
Jim Broadbent’s police inspector (and Danny’s dad) Frank Butterman joins Blanchett as the only two Hot Fuzz cast members to have won Academy awards. However the movie does feature a memorable performance from future Oscar winner Olivia Colman as the innuendo loving Doris Thatcher, Sanford’s only female officer and the person responsible for asking Angel “What makes you think it was murrderr?”
Not so secret is Stephen Merchant’s Peter Ian Staker (not pisstaker), the man who lost his swan and is forced to give a classic visual description to Angel: “About two feet tall, long slender neck, orange and black bill … Well, it’s a swan.”
Meanwhile, behind the camera Machete, Death Proof and The Mandalorian director Robert Rodriguez stepped in to score two short scenes without even having seen the full movie. Listen back to the moments where Angel visits a convenience store while leaving Sandford and the 'Avenging Angel' track leading up to the movie’s climactic shootout to hear his musical work.
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Almost two decades later and Wright’s sophomore Cornetto trilogy film remains perhaps the most enjoyable of the bunch. While Sandford may like to present itself as a sleepy little village, a quick rewatch proves it’s chock full of more memorable performances - and quotable lines - than you can shake a police baton at.
Regardless of whether it’s your favourite of Wright, Pegg and Frost’s work so far, it’s undeniably more fun than firing your gun in the air and going 'argh!'
Hot Fuzz is streaming on Netflix, or probably showing on ITV 2 right now.