Though not entirely his fault, it's people like Simon Pegg that help to make life so deeply unbearable for the rest of us. Britain's less self-satisfied (and decade-late) response to Kevin Smith, the goateed, impossibly dorky Pegg offers just the sort of gleaming encouragement that self-satisfied, goateed, and impossibly dorky douchebags around the globe don't need—like Smith, his mainstream acknowledgement gives license to every obnoxious smart-ass in cargo shorts to wax comedic all up in the rest of our collective grill. The primary difference, of course, is that Simon Pegg is genuinely hilarious—a fact which no doubt escapes the rest of his action-figure-collecting brethren. Pegg's cop spoof Hot Fuzz opens in theaters this week—here's a look back.
• Spaced (1999) The sitcom that made Pegg a star in Britain, Spaced's brief, two-season run managed to cram in more painfully geeky sci-fi references than the ticket line for Star Wars: Episode One—and still maintained enough wit and humanity to usher it into the hearts of many a non-dorky limey. Tremendously popular 'cross the pond and Emmy nominated in the US, Spaced has yet to see a DVD release in America—but the whole series is little more than a quick YouTube search away.
• Shaun of the Dead (2004) A brilliantly winking tribute to the zombie flick cannon, the surprisingly successful Shaun of the Dead single-handedly re-enlivened the otherwise depressing confines of the horror spoof ghetto. Taking its cues from a Resident Evil-themed episode of the aforementioned Spaced, Shaun also helped to make Pegg a cult star in America, as well as landing him a coveted cameo in George Romero's Land of the Dead.
• Mission: Impossible III (2006) The perks of creating a healthy, American-sized buzz around your first feature are strange and unpredictable—for example, your agent might just start fielding calls about small, well-compensated roles in bullshit like MI:III. The awkwardly placed Pegg surprisingly holds his own as ol' Tom's lone remaining confidant.