Bursting onto the international movie scene in Edgar Wright’s Nerdoween-approved horror-comedy Shaun of the Dead, Simon Pegg has become the go-to geek when it comes to nerdy action roles in some of cinema’s biggest franchises. It’s because of Pegg’s dedication to science and science-fiction both on-screen and off that he’s the latest in our line of Secret Science Nerds.
Born and raised in Gloucestershire, England, Pegg’s early academic career focused on English literature, theater, film and television; he was given an honorary felloswhip to the University of Gloucestershire for his “outstanding contribution to the arts” in 2008. While his education wasn’t science-slanted, his early interests were heavily science-fiction oriented, and his career soon headed in that direction.
His savvy and sarcastic IMF Technician Benji Dunn was introduced in 2006’s Mission: Impossible III and would go on to become a recurring franchise character for Pegg. His 2009 portrayal of chief engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott in Star Trek and its two sequels, the most recent of which Pegg also co-wrote, cemented his science and science-fiction-based celebrity. His heavily costumed role in the new Star Wars trilogy was just icing on the cake.
Star Wars formed the core of his nerdy upbringing, one which he talks about at length in his 2011 memoir Nerd Do Well: A Small Boy’s Journey to Becoming a Big Kid. In that autobiographical tome, you can also see the influence on Pegg’s young mind by such iconic films as Night of the Living Dead, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and The Thing. And while those horror films don’t easily lend themselves to a scientific side story, Pegg’s time in the Star Trek universe certainly does. He’s fully embraced the role of Scotty and the mission that the USS Enterprise and Starfleet stand for, as he mentioned in a recent chat with Popular Science for Star Trek Beyond:
What’s kept the series going is this idea of hope—the idea that we actually manage to not only live on, but we work together and go out into the universe and we explore.
Pegg revisited his childhood infatuation with Star Trek and elaborated on the franchise’s hopeful outlook in another interview with Air & Space Magazine:
It’s always been a projection of the best of who we are, or who we could be. It’s the ultimate expression of humanity’s potential: A situation where we’re all working together with total tolerance and zero prejudice. “Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations,” as Gene Roddenberry used to say. We should aspire to get so far.
More recently, Pegg joined his Star Trek Beyond co-stars and crew members to take a pro-science stance in the political arena, specifically against U.S. Presidential candidate, Donald Trump. Their statement said, in part:
“We need to elect a president who will move this country forward into the kind of future we all dream of: where personal differences are understood and accepted, where science overrules superstition, where people work together instead of against each other.”
Most recently, Pegg got the amazing opportunity to chat with NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, the first person to sequence DNA in space, while she was aboard the International Space Station, which you can see in the video above. (On a related note, Rubins and her crewmates recently returned safely to Earth.)
Pegg may be our latest Secret Science Nerd, but there are plenty more out there. Take to the comments to let us know which pro-science celebrity you’d like us to profile next!
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Image: Paramount Pictures