‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’: Matthew Vaughn’s love letter to spy cinema

Feb. 12, 2015 | 11:38 a.m.

Director Matthew Vaughn was having a pint with prolific comic book writer Mark Millar in a London pub when the two hit upon the idea of “Kingsman: The Secret Service.”

The gleefully violent spy send-up/homage centers on the “Pygmalion”-style relationship between veteran agent Harry Hart (Colin Firth) and a new recruit from the wrong side of the tracks called “Eggsy” (Taron Egerton).

“The good ideas happen very quickly,” Vaughn said late last month by phone from London. “When I’m inspired, they sort of write themselves, which this one did.”

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Harry (Colin Firth), an impeccably suave spy, helps Eggsy (Taron Egerton) turn his life around by trying out for a position with Kingsman, a top-secret independent intelligence organization. (Fox)

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Professor Arnold (Mark Hamill) is interrogated in "Kingsman: The Secret Service." (Jaap Buitendijk/Fox)

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Harry (Colin Firth), an elite member of a top-secret independent intelligence organization, prepares to teach some ruffians a lesson in a scene from "Kingsman: The Secret Service." (Fox)

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Harry (Colin Firth) shows Eggsy (Taron Egerton) his office in a scene from "Kingsman: The Secret Service." (Jaap Buitendijk/Fox)

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From left, Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Sophie Cookson and Alastair MacIntosh in a scene from "Kingsman: The Secret Service." (Fox)

Several years and a limited-run series of comic books later, Vaughn is set to unveil the cinematic incarnation of “Kingsman” on Friday. It’s his second collaboration with Millar — they previously brought “Kick-Ass,” a profane tale of an unlikely superhero, to the screen — but it’s his third comic-book movie after 2011’s well-received “X-Men: First Class.”

“I’m very dyslexic, so I quite enjoy comics because it’s not just about the words, it’s the visuals that grab my attention as well,” said Vaughn, who is also a producer on the new “Fantastic Four” movie due from “Kingsman” studio 20 Century Fox this year. “It’s always about a good story or a character that grabs my imagination and I just want to tell it, and comics seem to be doing it more than anything else at the moment.”

After Hart takes Eggsy under his wing — though the teen doesn’t realize it, he is the son of a Kingsman agent killed in the line of duty — the spy must help mold his protege into a suitable candidate for membership in the elite espionage unit. The threat is posed by a lisping billionaire (Samuel L. Jackson) plotting to save the Earth using extreme tactics.

“I love spy movies and I thought, ‘No one’s done the fun spy movie for a long, long time,'” Vaughn said. The last 15 years, there was ‘Austin Powers,’ but that was taking it to the extreme. I thought there was a way of doing a proper spy movie but with a little bit more of a wink.”

Vaughn recently explained his approach to translating “Kingsman” from the paneled page to the big screen: “I was trying to create a really elegant world, and comic books aren’t necessarily elegant.”

A scene from "Kingsman: The Secret Service."  (Jaap Buitendijk/Fox)

A scene from “Kingsman: The Secret Service.” (Jaap Buitendijk / 20th Century Fox)

COLIN FIRTH, ACTION HERO: After Eggsy runs afoul of some neighborhood thugs, Hart takes on the gang armed only with his gentleman’s umbrella — which proves to be a more than sufficient weapon — in a sequence that establishes Firth’s action star bona fides. “The poor guy did six months of unbelievably hard training,” Vaughn said of the actor. “That’s why I think people are amazed by Colin in this movie, because he’s doing it — we’re not doing that usual action of cutting away, cutting to the stunt man. The camera is lingering on him.” Vaughn and his co-screenwriter, Jane Goldman, crafted the role specifically for Firth. “When I was writing, I had David Niven in mind,” Vaughn said. “I thought, who is the modern-day Niven? For me, there’s only one of them, and that’s Colin Firth.”

Harry (Colin Firth) shows Eggsy (Taron Egerton) his office in a scene from "Kingsman: The Secret Service." (Jaap Buitendijk/Fox)

Harry (Colin Firth) shows Eggsy (Taron Egerton) his office in a scene from “Kingsman: The Secret Service.” (Jaap Buitendijk / 20th Century Fox)

OFFICE WORK: Later, Hart shows Eggsy his private office, which is decorated with copies of the Sun. Each edition of the British tabloid represents a milestone moment for the spy, Vaughn said. “He’d buy a silly headline to remind him that was the day he saved the world or stopped the assassination of Margaret Thatcher,” the filmmaker said. “I thought it was a fun thing — a spy, you don’t get a medal, you don’t get any recognition for what you’ve done. He’s not allowed to really write it in a diary anywhere, so he just puts up these crazy headlines, which are easy to remember what happened that day.”

A scene from "Kingsman: The Secret Service." (Jaap Buitendijk/ Fox)

A scene from “Kingsman: The Secret Service.” (Jaap Buitendijk / 20th Century Fox)

DRIVING CONCERN: An early getaway scene allowed Vaughn to include a recurring visual signature in the film. “I have a thing about yellow cars,” Vaughn said. “Every movie I do, I have a yellow car in it. In ‘Layer Cake,’ there was a yellow Range Rover. There was a joke about drug dealers driving a yellow Range Rover. The Daniel Craig character we put in a silver Audi station wagon because that’s what mums would drive – as a drug dealer you’re blending in. Then the idiot drug dealer drove a yellow Range Rover. From then on, I’ve always wanted to get a yellow car in a film. My lucky habit.”

— Gina McIntyre | @LATHeroComplex | Facebook

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Comments


One Response to ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’: Matthew Vaughn’s love letter to spy cinema

  1. tpcast says:

    The ladies can have their 50 shades of Grey. The Kingsman is where I will be this weekend.

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