Based on the acclaimed comic book and directed by Matthew Vaughn, Kingsman: The Secret Service tells the story of a super secret spy organization that recruits a street kid into the agency’s ultra-competitive training program, as a global threat is emerging.
While at Comic-Con for a presentation in Hall H (read our full recap of the panel right here), co-stars Colin Firth and Samuel L. Jackson spoke at a conference, in which they talked about what drew them to this project, how a movie like this reminds an actor of the time that they were lost in a fantasy world, as a kid, getting to kick some ass, and what their characters’ motivation is. Check out what they had to say after the jump.
COLIN FIRTH: One of the things that makes you want to be an actor, speaking only for myself, is that there’s something infantile about it. You’re suspending disbelief, pretending and entering into a story world. If you’re going to do the kind of movies that show a harsh mirror to reality, that probably wasn’t what you were in it for when you were little, but this is. This is like stepping into the shoes of the people that were your heroes, growing up. I feel like that was in mind, when this was being created. It was the stuff that we loved when we were kids and we fell in love with cinema.
Sam, you’ve done a lot of action movies, in your career. Did you mentor Colin Firth for this?
SAMUEL L. JACKSON: By the time I showed up, they’d already been shooting for awhile. I actually hadn’t seen what was going on, and (director) Matthew [Vaughn] took me into an office and showed me this really great scene. I was sitting there slack-jawed. I was like, “That’s Colin Firth? For real?!” So, he didn’t need any help from me. The one thing that’s really great is that we’ve been preparing for this, all our lives. I sit at home, when I read scripts, and I see the movies that I saw when I was a kid and spent my whole day in the movie theater watching. And I say to myself, “Here’s that opportunity that I’ve been waiting for, to be inside of that movie that I spent all day watching.” I’ll choose that movie ‘cause that’s part of the job.
The job is supposed to be fun. I’ve been preparing to do this, for a long time. I was an only child. I stood in the mirror and did a lot of this stuff. I fought a whole bunch of things in my room that nobody saw but me. And Colin learned how to channel those things. We all have that inside of us, as actors, if we’re actors who really enjoy acting and remember what it meant to lose yourself in that fantasy world when you were a kid, or you and your friends dressed up and went outside to play cowboys and Indians, or war, or Vikings, or whatever we went outside to play. We did that stuff. Now, I get to do it as an adult, on a grand scale. I get to have a real gun in my head. It shoots fake bullets, but when I shoot somebody, unlike my friends who always yelled, “You missed me!,” the chest explodes. I love that! You don’t have to be taught to do that. You have to learn to do the technical things, like the choreography of the fights, but all that other stuff is stuff that we’ve been waiting to do all of our lives, especially boys.
FIRTH: I fantasized about being in those kinds of films, but I rarely ever have. And then, when Sam Jackson shows up on set, I think, “I’m in the real thing. He’s a sign that I made it into those movies that I wanted to do.”
Colin, what was it like for you to finally get to kick some ass, as a secret agent?
FIRTH: It was great fun! It references the things that we really, really enjoyed. This isn’t supposed to be rewriting history, and it’s not supposed to achieve world peace. It’s just that we enjoy it and we want you to enjoy it. In terms of what was different, I’ve never had to do anything quite this physical, unless you include pulling Hugh Grant’s hair. That was probably what first hinted at me, as killing machine. But, the training was extraordinarily intense and unfamiliar to me. It was long and incredibly gratifying, by the end. I wished I’d done more of it. It was a good six months of daily work, three hours a day, with this extraordinary team that we all got to know. They’re basically the best in the world, made up of gymnasts, Thai boxers, martial artists of all kinds, and special forces guys.
JACKSON: And some killers that are still wanted, that we can’t mention.
Colin, why had you always wanted to do something like this?
FIRTH: Growing up in the ‘60s, I enjoyed this kind of thing. In terms of style and the character of the spy movie that I fell in love with, it has its roots in the ‘60s. It’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E., it’s the Harry Palmer films, it’s John Steed’s The Avengers, it’s those early Bond films, it’s the guy in the suit who seems slick and cool and capable, but very, very contained and you cross him at your peril because he’ll get you with an umbrella or a slick move or a gadget. So, it was all that. But, it took Matthew Vaughn to invite me. I’ve been here waiting for the offer on Bond long enough, but it was Matthew Vaughn who decided that it was a good combination. He likes to take your presumptions about people and flip them on their head. So, he came to me and said, “I think you’re the last person on earth that anybody would expect to kick anyone’s ass. I think it would be a big surprise, but I would like you to do it. Are you up for it?”
This was about a year before we went ahead. I had the comics, but he hadn’t finished writing the script. That was enough to go on. I loved it. I couldn’t put them down. But he said, “Are you prepared to take the pain of going through this training process? You’re going to hate me by the end of it, but I’m asking you know because it’s going to take that long to get you there.” It was the challenge. If I’m the last person that you expect to be able to do all that stuff, he wanted me to really do it. You have to be able to really sell it, and not just cut to a stuntman. You can do that in cinema. You can have it look like me and not be me. He wanted it to be utterly, convincingly me.
What is your character’s motivation?
JACKSON: I play Valentine, and he wants to save the world.
FIRTH: My character is the Henry Higgins of the spy world.