Perhaps the busiest television actor on either side of the pond, British standup comedian-turned-actor Simon Pegg has become a ubiquitous presence to U.K. television viewers since making his debut in the popular 1995 comedy series Six Pairs of Pants. With his role as the writer and hapless title character in the British "zom-rom-com" (zombie romantic comedy) Shaun of the Dead, Pegg's popularity set sail for U.S. shores as well.
A Glouchester native who completed his education at Bristol University before segueing into film and television, Pegg showed considerable promise as an actor in his early television appearances. It was during the production of Six Pairs of Pants that Pegg made the acquaintance of future collaborators Jessica Stevenson and Edgar Wright, and in the years that followed, the trio would find notable small-screen success in such efforts as Asylum and Spaced -- with the latter finding an especially strong following on U.K. television. Additional roles in Saturday Live, the outlandish Big Train, and as the lead in Hippies also served to boost Pegg's profile, and in 2001 he joined an impressive cast for a small role in Tom Hanks' acclaimed miniseries Band of Brothers.
Though the majority of Pegg's exposure had been limited to the small screen at the dawn of the new millennium (save for brief appearances in such features as The Parole Officer and 24 Hour Party People), the prolific television comic made a successful leap to the big screen as the writer and eponymous character in 2004's Shaun of the Dead. Cast as a put-upon electronics-store employee who attempts to rescue his friend (played by Pegg real-life best friend and Spaced co-star Nick Frost), mother, and ex-girlfriend as the zombie apocalypse rages around them, Pegg drew big laughs with Shaun, and it wasn't long before the film was scheduled for stateside release. A film championed by the likes of even zombie-genre inventor George A. Romero for its witty writing and cleverly constructed chills, Shaun of the Dead found considerable success when released into stateside theaters in September 2004 (it would come as no surprise to fans of the film that it won the award for Best Screenplay at the 2004 British Independent Film Awards).
Back on the BBC, Pegg joined I'm Alan Partridge star Steve Coogan in the bizarre genetically modified talking-animals comedy I Am Not an Animal before joining Shaun mate Peter Serafinowicz for a few episodes of Look Around You and making an appearance in the 2005 series of his favorite childhood television program, Doctor Who. A brief cameo in Romero's eagerly anticipated Land of the Dead quickly followed, and after lending his voice to the scatological computer-animated comedy Free Jimmy, Pegg would "go-Hollywood" in a very big way by joining the Tom Cruise team in Alias director J.J. Abrams' Mission: Impossible III.
Though Pegg went on to play a substantial role in director Jean-Baptiste Andrea's Big Nothing shortly thereafter, the film was released straight to DVD in the U.S., and it wasn't until the release of Hot Fuzz that American audiences would once again get a good look at Pegg and pal Frost as they re-teamed with director Wright to parody the action-packed police thrillers that fueled their imaginations as impressionable young children. Pegg would go on to enjoy sustained success in the comedy world, appearing in movies like Run, Fatboy, Run, and Paul. He would also cement himself into a hugely popular franchise, taking on the role of Scotty in the J.J. Abrams reboot of Star Trek.