20th Century Fox
Three years ago, it might not have been as evident that Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman: The Secret Service, based on the comic by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons, would take off and be as successful as it was. With $414 million grossed worldwide, it was a no-brainer to pull together a sequel, so Vaughn sat down with his co-writer and co-producer Jane Goldman to come up with a new adventure for the Kingsmen.
Taron Egerton’s Eggsy is back, having taken on the role of Lancelot after the seeming death of Colin Firth’s Harry Hart in the first movie, and he’s joined by Mark Strong’s Merlin to face a new adversary. After the destruction of all the Kingsmen’s UK assets, Eggsy and Merlin travel to the states to enlist the help of their American equivalent, the Statesmen.
Along with the Statemen’s Ginger (Halle Berry), Tequilla (Channing Tatum), Whiskey (Pedro Pascal) and Champ (Jeff Bridges), they need to stop a new threat in Julianne Moore’s Poppy, a woman who plans to unleash a deadly virus on the world. She also is holding Elton John prisoner at her Cambodian mountaintop hideout.
The Tracking Board got on the phone with Vaughn over the weekend for the following quick interview.
This is the first sequel you’ve directed, even though were involved with Kick-Ass 2 and with X-Men: Days of Future Past. What made you decide you wanted to continue on with this one?
Well, I’ve learned a lot. On Kick-Ass 2, I didn’t want to do the sequel, and I realized that maybe my tone was insane and unique to my crazy mind, that it was actually unfair expecting Jeff Wadlow to pull it off in the same way. With Days of Future Past … the whole thing about the X-Men world is that it’s not my sandbox. It’s Bryan (Singer’s) sandbox. He let me play in it, and I’m eternally grateful for that. When I was developing Days of Future Past, I suddenly was thinking, “You know what, I think we should be the third film in the trilogy, and we should do a second one where we introduce a young Wolverine and then that’s be the finale of the trilogy,” because you’d have new and old Wolverine, you’d have new and young Magneto, etc. etc. The studio disagreed with that, and it made me realize, “This ain’t my sandbox. Give it back to Brian. He’s a genius with these characters, and they can go off and do what they want with it, and I’m going to go create my own sandbox.” Or I’ll either make sandcastles or I’ll defecate and urinate in the damn thing. It doesn’t matter, because it’s my sandbox, and I’m going to make it work or fail. My own beast not somebody else’s, so that’s sort of why.
And then with Kingsman, I loved these characters so much, and there was a story I wanted to continue telling. I just had to do it, and that’s when I make movies, when I cannot not make the movie. It’s like an itch, where if I don’t scratch it, I’m in trouble.
20th Century Fox
Was Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons involved at all and did you talk to them about what you wanted to do in the sequel?
No, weirdly, I did ask Mark to read the script and he didn’t – it was just bad timing or whatever. By the time he was gonna read it, we were shooting. I said, “Don’t read it. Just be a fresh pair of eyes,” and then he came in and watched a cut that I thought was good enough to show. I showed it to him and he actually was a viewer, and he gave me some brilliant notes. I mean really, really good notes, and actually, it was quite beneficial that he wasn’t involved in the beginning but was involved in the end.
You and Jane have an impressive run having written together for 10 years, so how does that work with her producing these days, as well?
I think the only real change or enhancement was technology, because before we’d have to sit in a room together, much more than we do now. I sort of bash stuff out and send it to her. She bashes stuff out, sends it back. I’m rewriting what she’s done. She rewrites what I’ve done, or she’ll send me something perfect I don’t change, or I write something so insane, she says, “What are you doing? You can’t do that.” I argue with her, and then, 80 percent of the time she’s correct. It’s just one of those things that works. She’s a pleasure, she’s brilliant. I’m incredibly dyslexic and all over the place, so she sometimes will take something that other people would say is not writing, it’s just verbal diarrhea, and turn it into a page of a script. We sort of compliment each other and it works, and its fun, that’s what matters.
I remember with the first Kingsman, there was some concern it might be “too British.” Was creating the Stateman and bringing the story to the States the obvious way to go? Was that something that you knew even before you finished the first movie that that’s the way to do a sequel if you got a chance to do another movie?
No, I didn’t know but, I always support things that I love and that I’m passionate about. I love England, but I absolutely love America and Americana as well. I wanted to celebrate it, and I think it’s been a long time since America has been celebrated. From the 50s to the 70s, ven before Bush came to power, people loved America, and there’s a lot about America to love, and I wanted to remind everyone of all the great American tropes that need to be celebrated.
It great timing. We really need to be reminded of that, because as you probably know, America’s in pretty bad shape right now.
Yeah, well the world’s not in a good shape sadly. It’s not just America.
I’m curious about the Elton John appearance because I thought at first that would just be a cameo, but he actually plays a large part in the movie, so how did that come about?
I wanted Elton to do the first film — he turned it down, and then, I had an idea for him to be in the second movie, and the first one was a smaller role, and he said to me “I was a bloody idiot for not doing the first film, I’m in.” He just turned up, and he was brilliant. Totally professional, charming, pure delight.
20th Century Fox
Julianne Moore plays the villain of the film, and she creates a very different dynamic than Samuel Jackson did in the first movie playing a character directly from the comics. What was the inspiration to have a female villain who is so wacky?
Again, I wanted a way to really celebrate Americana, and especially the ‘50s Americana, it’s beautiful, and so iconic, so I was thinking, “How do I get that in a movie?” And then I thought maybe we could put that in Cambodia in Angkor Wat, which is pretty cool, and put those two mad cultures together. Then I needed a character that would actually do that, and then sort of ground the crazy, over the top idea, which she did perfectly. I knew she’d be able to play, sort of the kooky Stepford Wives homemaker, Martha Stewart meets Margaret Thatcher with a bit of Mrs. Cunningham from Happy Days, all rolled into one. Not many people can pull that off, but Julianne Moore is a fantastic actress, and she could do it.
At what point do you decide whether you want to do a Kingsman 3? Do you feel like you’ve had enough fun with the first two movies that if Fox wants you to do another movie, you’d do it?
Yeah, there’s a trilogy planned. If you look at the ending of this movie, all the main characters are on the cusp of a new journey. If you look at what they’ve gone through, and what they’ve learned. If you look at that last three minutes, we’ve got it all planned out for where the next or the final step will be on their journey.
Do you feel like you were able to get all the ideas you might have done in a James Bond movie out of the way by doing the Kingsman movies? Having done those movies, does that mean you’d never feel the need to direct an actual James Bond movie?
Never say never. How is that for a pun? Look, this has definitely got all of my spy ideas in, and the first movie is a love letter to every spy movie and book ever written or TV show. Now, it’s kind of becoming its own identity, I hope. People are seeing the Kingsman as Kingsman. You know what? I don’t know. Who knows what the future says? I doubt they’ll ever ask me to do a Bond, but you know, if they did, of course I’d consider it.
Before you go, I have to ask about John Denver. Is it just a coincidence that all these filmmakers seem to be using John Denver this year? How did this happen?
It makes me want to throw up is the answer to that. I wrote the screenplay with Jane two and a half years ago. It had two scenes that are all about John Denver that we cut out just for length. We had the Halle character and Merlin discussing what was best, the Olivia Newton John version of John Denver’s “Country Roads” or John Denver’s version. We talked about John Denver on the Muppet. It was all about John Denver, and it was so throughout the film I was worried people would not know who John Denver was or knew his music. We had another speech about “Thank God I’m a Country Boy.” I was like “Denver, Denver, Denver, This is bloody great. I love John Denver. We have to bring this back. Am I original?” It turns out I’m not. I’m like a sheep following the crowd or having no idea, and we’re the fifth movie with bloody John Denver in it. The good news is that I was worried they wouldn’t know the songs, because there’s a pretty big sequence to “Country Roads” and at least they all know the song now.
So it’s just a happy coincidence that we got so much John Denver this year…
It has to be a coincidence or some bugger’s read my script.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle opens nationwide on Friday, Sept. 22.
Edward Douglas | East Coast Editor