Has any summer movie harvested quite as many actors with double-barrelled or otherwise lengthy names as Kick-Ass 2? Christopher Mintz-Plasse. Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Chloe Grace Moretz. All we can say is, after typing up all these set visits and interviews, our fingers are considerably more stumpy than they were before.
Anyway, late last year, as part of our wander around the set of Kick-Ass 2, we got to enjoy a brief, round-table chat with the hero and villain of the piece, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Christopher Mintz-Plasse. Well, we call it a round-table interview – there wasn’t a table at all. The interview took place with about eight or so journalists (including your humble writer from Den Of Geek) on an area of hardstanding just outside Pinewood Studios’ South Dock Stage.
Taylor-Johnson was still in his green Kick-Ass wetsuit, while his nemesis Mintz-Plass was still kitted out in his kinky, glam rock-inspired bad guy outfit. Although sworn enemies on the big screen, they’re clearly close friends in real life. With occasional strong language, here’s what they had to say about returning for the comic book sequel…
How does it feel to be back in your costumes?
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: It looks great, but after two takes of doing stunts, you’re just a pile of sweat. It’s crazy. Right?
Aaron Taylor Johnson: Yeah. I’ve been on my second or third wetsuit of the day, so. It is quite a surreal feeling, stepping back into it. It doesn’t feel like it’s been four years.
CMP: For me it does. [Laughs] From day one, I’ve been waiting for the second one, and it took four years. It’s looking amazing.
You’re looking more mature. Has that been written into the script?
ATJ: You think the beard makes him look more mature? [Laughs]
CMP: Well, it takes place three years after the first movie, so everyone’s grown up a little bit. So yeah, all the characters have matured in this. My mom threw away my Red Mist costume, and she’s a pill-popping, booze-drinking crazy woman, so The Mother Fucker now has a lot of shit to deal with.
ATJ: It’s interesting that everyone else has matured, yet my character, the main part of his journey in this, is that everyone’s matured and going out elsewhere and has a future plan, but he doesn’t know what he’s doing.
CMP: He’s still got the same girl at the beginning.
ATJ: He’s trying to work out what his future might be – whether it’s Kick-Ass or not.
Was there a point where you guys thought the sequel wasn’t going to happen?
CMP: When I saw the box office numbers for the first one, they weren’t bad. You know, $19 million opening weekend in the States. But they were just hoping for a lot more, and it didn’t hit that mark. I thought, maybe it’s just a cult thing and people will see it on DVD and love it. But a lot of people downloaded it and bought it off iTunes, and it got a huge following off that.
ATJ: So we hope they download it again. [Laughs]
You have a new director. Is his approach to directing and your characters different to Matthew [Vaughn’s]?
ATJ: Matthew’s still a huge part of it. He’s producing this…
CMP: Uh-huh. He’s watching all the dailies. He called me this morning.
ATJ: …So they’re in tune creatively, but you know, Jeff Wadlow stepped forward with a really fantastic screenplay, and without that, we wouldn’t be here. Matthew said that all along: he wouldn’t make a second one unless it’s as good as the first, so he needed to raise the bar, and Jeff did.
CMP: The good thing is, we have the same producers, the same sound guys, the same make-up ladies, the same set designers. Everything is the same, so I think that’s going to be a huge deal in this.
ATJ: …so stepping onto it’s been a fucking nightmare, really. [Laughs]
Can you explain how the bar’s been raised for this movie?
ATJ: I think the first one was definitely out there and original, and it turned heads. People are expecting to see that level of shock factor. We stand out from any other kind of commercial movie, because we’re aiming for an R or a 15, so we can get better violence in. The more realistic – at our age, we swear and whatnot, so we can put in a lot more realistic content.
That’s there, obviously, or it wouldn’t be Kick-Ass. But there’s more of a story. Chris’s character’s seeking revenge, and he goes to a whole other world. So’s Dave. Hit-Girl’s trying to work out how Mindy fits into high school…
CMP: That’s the most boring storyline. [Laughs] In Kick-Ass, that’s the one everyone’s not looking forward to. Hit-Girl in high school!
ATJ: I think there’s a real journey and a story. It’s not just a stupid, you know, one fight after the next. Mark Millar and John Romita Jr introduced the villains and Justice Forever. Jim Carrey’s on board, and brings that mad, kooky style that Nic Cage had in the first film.
CMP: We have John Leguizamo and Donald Faison – it’s a great cast.
Can we expect a much bigger scale this time?
CMP: Yeah. Same budget though, which is awesome.
ATJ: We have a lower budget this time. So it’s much lower scale. [Laughs] Much lower scale, but trying to hit higher.
Did you have any input into your wonderful costume?
CMP: I did not, no.
ATJ: He brought it with him! This is his.
CMP: This is my mom’s. [Laughs] No, really, Jeff wrote a hilarious moment in the script where it’s like a few years later, and my mom’s thrown my Red Mist costume away. Something happens, and I’m going through her stuff, and I find her fetish gear. I see it and John Leguizamo, who plays my security guard, wants to throw it away, but I look at it and see there’s something there, and create this [costume] out of it.
Is it difficult to choreograph your fight scenes, because certainly in the comic books, these are guys who aren’t big athletes. It’s one step up from a slap fight. So hard is it to find where the line is?
CMP: I think what Jeff did in the script was, he [Chris D’Amico] has been training. So there’s a few scenes where I’m training with MMA fighters. So I don’t learn how to kick a lot of ass, but I get a few moves in.
ATJ: Can we say the MMA fighter yet? Or is that not to be revealed?
CMP: I dunno.
ATJ: Are we allowed to say that?
-It’s all embargoed until next year, so…
ATJ: Well, my character is getting trained by Hit-Girl.
CMP: I’m getting trained by, uh… should I say it? [There’s a lot of mumbling to the effect that no, he shouldn’t] …so the fighting’s kind of scrappy, but we know our way around some moves as well. The stunt doubles were great.
ATJ: There has to be a bit of [style]. Imagine getting to the end of the battle scene, and just slapping and pushing.
CMP: You can’t have Hit-Girl and Mother Russia doing incredible things, and then me and this guy just slapping each other in the face. [Laughs]
Have you managed to injure each other at all yet?
CMP: Not really…
ATJ: We get bruises and stuff. On the last one, you got a scar.
CMP: That was from me hitting myself in the face. [Laughs] Don’t worry about that. Hit-Girl’s stunt double got brutally injured this morning.
ATJ: Maybe we shouldn’t mention that.
CMP: Well, no. I mean, there are injuries going on. She’s fine, though. Stitches and everything.
ATJ: [Defensively] There’s no animal violence or anything. Or harming children.
In the comic, there is animal violence.
CMP: We couldn’t do that.
ATJ: That’s really beyond… no one wants to see that.
Everyone loves what they did with the Batman films, but do you think these are a great antidote? They’re very serious, those movies, but these have a lot of fun and spirit in them.
ATJ: I think it’s always playing on that thing of this being real. We keep coming back to this being the real world. If you go out there, it’s pretty fucking dangerous. We’re not telling people to go out and dress as superheroes; obviously, the consequences, you can see: people get stabbed and die. But at the end of it, it is just light and fun.
CMP: It is based on the comic book, you know?
ATJ: It’s that comic book dark violence and comedy.
Aaron Taylor Johnson and Christopher Mintz-Plasse, thank you very much.
Kick-Ass 2 opens on the 14th August in the UK.
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