Shaun of the Dead Cast
The Shaun of the Dead Cast is a wonderful line up of seasoned actors, newcomers, celebrity guests who appear as themselves and of course, the zombies. We have endeavoured to compile a Shaun of the Dead Cast list that gives insights into the characters and the actors who took part. We hope you enjoy revisiting this iconic movie and that you might discover something new about your favourite character or Shaun of the Dead Cast member.
Shaun James Riley – Simon Pegg
The main protagonist, Shaun James Riley, is portrayed by Shaun of the Dead Cast member, Simon Pegg.
Shaun James Riley
Before The Apocalypse
As well as working at Foree Electronics as a sales assistant, Shaun has aspirations to be a DJ who goes by the name of ‘Smiley Riley’. Shaun’s best friend is Ed whom he has known since childhood. He is close to his mother, Barbara but has a somewhat strained relationship with his stepfather of 17 years, Philip.
Shaun shares a house with his old college friend, Pete, and also his best friend from school, Ed, who crashed one night after a party and has been there ever since. As Pete was at pains to remind Shaun, that stood at 5 years.
Shaun’s life is a perpetual round of work, Playstation, TV, pub. Much of the time Shaun socialises with Ed, his best friend, mostly at the pub. The Winchester public house features heavily in Shaun’s existence as it is his favourite place to hang out.
Shaun met his girlfriend, Liz, while on holiday in Greece. According to Liz, their relationship is stagnating. She constantly berates Shaun to ‘sort out his life’ and wants to ‘go places’. Promises from Shaun to give up smoking and book a dinner for two at “Fulci’s” restaurant, seem to satisfy her initial demands.
During the apocalypse
Shaun’s girlfriend, step-father and college friend Pete, constantly harangue him with demands to ‘sort himself out’ and ‘do something with his life’. However, it is the onset of the zombie apocalypse which prompts Shaun to take action. When the zombies are beating through the door, it is Shaun who becomes the man with a plan. As the unelected leader of the group, Shaun determines to rescue his family and friends and lead them all to safety.
After the apocalypse
As a result of ‘Z Day’, Shaun loses Barbara his mother, Philip his step-father, college friend Pete, friends David and Diane, pub land-lord John and his wife Bernie, several fellow pub-goers, work colleague Noel (Noodles), shop-keeper Nelson, and a number of neighbours with whom he unwittingly interacted on a regular basis. Although his best friend Ed becomes a zombie too, Shaun rescues him, finds a place for him in the garden shed and furnishes him with the Playstation.
Shaun’s only close friend to survive ‘Z Day’ is Liz. Within six months, Liz has moved in with Shaun. Their social lifestyle becomes very similar to that he shared with Ed, namely pub, TV, hanging out in the house. Without distractions from other people, Liz seems more content with this.
The primary member of the Shaun of the Dead Cast is Simon Pegg who plays the main protagonist, Shaun Riley.
Simon John Pegg was born on 14th February 1972 in Brockworth, Gloucestershire, England.
After studying English Literature and Performance Studies at Stratford-upon-Avon College, Simon went on to achieve a Bachelors degree in Drama at the University of Bristol.
Stand-up, TV and Spaced
The early 1990s saw Simon launch a successful career in stand-up comedy in London. Opportunities in TV beckoned and after several successful roles in a variety of shows, he teamed up with Jessica Hynes to co-write and star in the hugely successful cult TV comedy Spaced (1999). Simon Pegg played Tim Bisley, Jessica Hynes played Daisy Steiner, Nick Frost portrayed Mike Watt and the show was directed by Edgar Wright. All four became members of the Shaun of the Dead Cast, with Edgar Wright directing the movie and also having a cameo role as a zombie.
Birth of a Legend
In one episode of Spaced called ‘Art’, Tim Bisley stays up all night taking speed and playing zombie video game Resident Evil. This results in him hallucinating, believing he is battling real zombies. Pegg and Wright had enormous fun filming this episode and it sparked the idea they should collaborate on their own zombie movie. A fun, fantasy episode, a compulsion to never leave the pub and a shared love of zombie movies evolved into the internationally acclaimed, Shaun of the Dead Movie. How’s that for a slice of fried gold?
Following the success of Shaun of the Dead, Simon Pegg has gone on to star in a number of memorable movies including Hot Fuzz (2007), Run Fat Boy Run (2007), and Paul (2011). Notable roles also included Montgomery “Scotty” Scott in Star Trek (2009) and Benji in Mission Impossible III (2006) and Mission Impossible – ghost Protocol (2011).
Ed – Nick Frost
Ed is Shaun Riley’s best friend. He is portrayed by Shaun of the Dead Cast member Nick Frost.
Before The Apocalypse
Ed has been Shaun Riley’s best friend since their primary school days. He and Shaun spend most of their time in each other’s company. They share a common sense of humour and their favourite pastimes include drinking at the Winchester, watching TV, playing video games and hanging out at the house. One night, Ed crashed on Shaun’s sofa and has slept there every night since.
At the time of the apocalypse, that stood at 5 years. Ed has no paid employment but does earn some money selling drugs, most notably to ‘Noodle’, Shaun’s co-worker at Foree Electric.
The game we see Ed and Shaun playing both before and after the apocalypse is called Timesplitters 2 which includes a challenge section about zombie slaying.
During the Apocalypse
When the apocalypse breaks, Ed happily teams up with Shaun to help him rescue his family and friends. Despite the serious circumstances, Ed approaches the whole event with a light-hearted attitude, much like he is playing another video game rather than facing a real life and death situation. Ed seizes every opportunity to amuse himself, even when his actions place everyone at risk. This constantly exacerbates the situation for the rest of the group but does provide enormous comedic value to the movie.
After the Apocalypse
During the battle of the Winchester, zombie Pete and zombie Bernie the landlady attacked and bit Ed, condemning him to become a zombie too. Unwilling to let his friend be taken by the authorities, Shaun rescues Ed from the pub and hides him, chained up in the garden shed. This was to fulfil the prophecy by Pete in an early argument about Ed’s slovenliness, “why don’t you go and live in the shed”. Ed’s reply “next time I see him, he’s dead” turned out to be prophetic too.
The Playstation game that Zombie Ed and Shaun in the shed at the end of the movie is ‘Timesplitters 2’, which has a challenge section about zombie slaying.
Our second Shaun of the Dead Cast member is Nick Frost, who portrays Shaun Riley’s best friend, Ed.
Nicholas John Frost was born on 28th March 1972 in Hornchurch, Essex in England.
Having worked as a waiter/cook/bartender in a Mexican Restaurant for 6 years, Nick set his sights on an acting career and soon found himself filming training videos for an electronics company. In order to flesh out his performance experience, Nick dabbled with stand-up comedy. He appeared on stage 10 times which Nick describes as an equal mixture of amazing and the worst moments of his life.
Nick’s first credited acting role was Mike Watt in the TV show Spaced, alongside best friend, Simon Pegg.
Mike Watt is a member of the voluntary Territorial Army and a firearms expert. To get into character, Nick Frost took a gun home so he could practice stripping and rebuilding it in order to look like a convincing arms expert. On a baking hot day, Nick sat with his door wide open, wearing ‘skimpy’ shorts and a blind fold, and began to practice stripping the gun.
When Nick lifted his blindfold, he was shocked to find he was surrounded by 6-8 police marksmen with their guns trained on him. In England, it is not permitted to carry fire-arms. It would seem a woman had seen the barrel of the gun sticking out of Nick’s bag and reported it. The police immediately started screaming at him and Nick describes what followed as ‘tense’.
After Spaced, Nick took a variety of roles on TV. In The Victoria Wood show, you can see Nick playing the part of a burglar who shoots and kills the much loved Mrs Overall of ‘Acorn Antiques’. Nick also wrote and presented the TV show Danger! 50,000 Volts! and also co-wrote and starred in the radio show The Sofa of Time.
Ed of Shaun of the Dead
Around this time, Nick Frost and Simon Pegg shared accommodation and hung out a lot at their local pub, The Shepherds. Their lifestyle proved to be the perfect formula on which to base the two main characters in the movie. As Simon Pegg’s best friend and dedicated drinking companion, Nick Frost made the seamless segue into the character of Ed and joined the Shaun of the Dead Cast as Shaun Riley’s best friend.
Nick’s talent for ad lib came to the fore when he performed his party piece impersonation of Clyde the orang-utan from the Clint Eastwood ‘Every Which Way’ movies. He also improvised the sequence where Ed launched into a character assassination of the other pub guests while trying to cheer up Shaun after his break-up with Liz.
Nick Frost’s most notable films to date include Shaun of the Dead (2004), Hot Fuzz (2007), Paul (2011) and Fighting with my family (2019).
Liz – Kate Ashfield
Liz is the girlfriend of Shaun James Riley. She is portrayed by Shaun of the Dead Cast member Kate Ashfield.
Before the Apocalypse
Liz is the girl friend of Shaun Riley, whom she met while on holiday in Greece. Employed as an English teacher, Liz shares a flat with college friends David and Diane.
When we first meet Liz, she is complaining to Shaun that she is unhappy with their relationship and she wants him to change. Her main complaints seem to be along the lines of wanting more alone time with Shaun rather than spending every night in the Winchester public house in the company of Ed, David and Diane. She describes her ambitions as wanting to travel, meet people and “do something” but is unclear exactly as to what she wants to achieve or how she wants to go about it.
The promise of a quiet dinner for two at “Fulci’s” restaurant is enough to reassure Liz that Shaun will change. However, when the next day Shaun forgets to book the restaurant and suggests they go to the Winchester pub instead, the couple have a falling out and Liz jilts Shaun.
During the Apocalypse
When Shaun and his cricket bat turn up at Liz’s flat to rescue her, initially she is reluctant to leave. However, she is impressed with Shaun’s resolve and the fact he has a plan, so agrees to go with him.
Liz’s weapon of choice when leaving the flat is an Indian hockey stick, although she makes no attempt to use it.
She gets to meet Shaun’s mother Barbara for the first time when Shaun, Ed, Liz, David, Diane, Barbara and Philip all bundle into Philip’s Jaguar taking flight from a group of zombies.
Liz is the peacemaker in the group when tensions rise between David and Shaun. She steps in with practical help when Shaun is trapped in the car with zombie Philip and takes care of Shaun’s mother when she realises Barbara has been bitten.
During the battle of the Winchester, Liz plays an active role. She is quick to pick up a pool cue and help to beat zombie John the landlord and also sprays him with a fire extinguisher. Trapped in the cellar with Shaun and Ed, Liz produces cigarettes for them all. Although Shaun’s smoking had been high on her list of criticism, she revealed she swiped them from the bin ‘because she was desperate’.
Liz also reveals she would rather Shaun shoots her than be turned into a zombie. Luckily Liz and Shaun find a way out of the cellar and emerge as the only two of the group to have survived.
After the apocalypse
Six months after the apocalypse Liz has moved into Shaun’s house which has taken on a tidy, well cared for look. Now there is just the two of them, Liz seems content to hang out at the house, visit the local Phoenix pub, and also for Shaun to play video games in the shed with Ed.
An essential member of our Shaun of the Dead Cast is Kate Ashfield, who portrays Shaun Riley’s girlfriend.
Kate Ashfield was born on 28th May 1972 in Oldham, Lancashire, England.
She was destined to be an actor from an early age. When her parents enrolled her in a children’s drama group, Kate was delighted to play Titania, Queen of the Fairies in Midsummer Nights Dream. Her enthusiasm for drama continued through school after which she enrolled for a degree course at The Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance, in Kent.
Inspired by the success of alumni such as Gary Oldman, Kate completed three years of drama school and graduated with a BA. She has gone on to appear in a number of stage and screen performances.
In 1994 Kate made her first screen appearance with the role of Ella in the film “Princess Caraboo” by John Wells. The same year, she made her professional stage debut as Cecily, in Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” in a UK Tour.
Some famous names were considered for the role of Liz but in 2004 it was Kate Ashfield who was selected to join the Shaun of the Dead Cast as Shaun Riley’s girlfriend. Kate endeared herself to audiences world wild and it is now impossible to imagine any one else in the role.
In 2005 Kate Ashfield’s role as Liz in Shaun of the Dead earned her a nomination for Best British Actress at the Empire Awards UK.
Following Shaun of the Dead, Kate Ashfield appeared in The Best Man (2005), Agatha Christie’s Poirot (2010), United (2011), Midsomer Murders (2013) and Hangman (2015), to name but a few.
Most recently, Kate was cast as Mary Parker in the historical drama TV series “Sanditon“. Along with Tracey Malone, Kate Ashfield co-wrote the 2017 award winning TV show “Born to Kill”.
For more about the movie, check out Shaun of the Dead.
You might also like to check out our Shaun of The Dead Merchandise Section, complete with a Shaun of the Dead Costume and Ed Costume / Zombie Ed Costume.