Kingsman: The Secret Service is this year’s most exciting espionage thriller, centering on a teenage hoodlum, whose life takes an unexpected turn when he’s recruited to join a spy organisation by a veteran secret agent. Colin Firth is the suave super spy Harry Hart, who takes a tear away teen known as Eggsy, played by Taron Egerton, under his wing in the hopes that he will ultimately pass muster in an elite spy agency. Meanwhile, a global threat emerges from a twisted tech genius, Richmond Valentine, played by Samuel L. Jackson, which the agency must try and thwart. To celebrate the release of Kingsman on Blu-ray and DVD from 8th JUNE 2015, and on digital HD from 24th May FilmJuice chatted to its star Colin Firth about what it was like to be Bond for a day…
Did you see Harry as almost a ‘super spy’ in the sense that he incorporated lots of different spies from cinematic history … a bit Jason Bourne, a bit James Bond…
I think one of the things that Matthew Vaughn seems to specialize in is taking everything he loves – things he grew up with, knowing that we grew up with them too – from the point of view of an excited fan who wants it partly an homage. It’s satirical, so he’s sending it out without laying into it. By the time he’s done with it, it just feels like it could only be him though, you know? Of course, with my character there’s definitely some Bond there, there’s definitely John Steed, there’s some Harry Palmer, there’s David Niven. And I think what he told me was that the Bond that he wanted me to channel was in Ian Fleming’s original idea of a gentleman spy.
Did it take much for Matthew to persuade you to take on the role, given that you’re not exactly known as an ‘action hero’?
It should’ve taken a lot to lead me to the decision, but in fact it was a moment of recklessness where I just thought let’s just see what happens, because he didn’t even show me a script! I met Matthew about a year and a half before we started filming. He gave me an overview. He gave me the comics to take away because he wanted to be writing with somebody in mind, but also he wanted to know if I was prepared to take a great deal of pain. I think I’d have been a lot more skeptical if he’d said “I’m casting you because I think you’re the butchest actor in Britain.” I think it would’ve been the end of the conversation, but he said “You’re the last person anyone’s going to expect to be doing all this – a cold steel killer with all these skills”. And I thought that was interesting because he’s obviously subverting people’s expectations. So I thought all right, I’ll take that agenda, but he said “You’re going to have to train because in order to sell this to the skeptics, it has to be you”. It wouldn’t work if we just cut to the stunt man in the old conventional way. So I learnt to do it. Three hours a day, every day. Six months later, there I was.
After all of that preparation, when you actually came to shoot the scenes, did you find them reasonably comfortable?
It was never comfortable for any of us, even the really skilled guys. Because it was a feat of memory as much as anything else. It had to be choreographed, then it had be remembered, so we were all doing this dance. I mean it’s footwork and remembering the moves. Including the guy holding the camera. Because the big long extended fight is a continuous, extended, single camera sequence. It’s not intercut at all, which I think is why it’s got that quite kinetic quality about it. it’s like theatre. You’re seeing people actually doing real stuff. It’s very difficult to cheat. And if someone’s gone on their left foot instead of their right, you get thumped by something or someone. It was intense, and time is always limited and the stunt guys are very, very, very demanding. But to rewind back to the beginning; it started with me just seeing if I could do a bloody squat! First get you mobile, then get you strong, then get you fit, and then speed you up a bit, and then it’s muscle memory to be able to remember the moves. So by the time I did it I was sort of in the ballpark for everything. Actually doing it well was the challenge.
Kingsman: The Secret Service is out on Digital HD on May 24th and on Blu-ray and DVD on June 8th from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.