In 2014, audiences were introduced to Kingsman — an independent secret service agency hidden in a tailor shop in London, dedicated to saving the world. It’s been seven years and three films since, and the world introduced in Matthew Vaughn’s gonzo spy spectacle has only grown bigger and crazier. And this Christmas, audiences will get to truly witness the bloody beginnings of this organization, when The King’s Man hits theaters next Wednesday, December 22!
To commemorate the release of the film, Vaughn, along with stars Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton, Harris Dickinson, Djimon Hounsou, and Rhys Ifans sat down in front of the press to discuss the film in depth, and just like the original’s protagonist, Eggsy, it was just full of surprises. Here’s what they had to say:
The first question was for Vaughn. He was asked about the origins of the film, and his decision to do something new with it.
“Well, I rewatched a movie called The Man Who Would Be King. And I joked about ‘wouldn’t it be great to make The Man Who Would Be Kingsman?’ And sort of it reminded me of why I fell in love with cinema. The idea of an epic historical adventure film, but with great actors, great characters, humor, pathos, and pure escapism and entertainment. And then I remembered the speech that Harry gave to Eggsy. How, when, why, and what Kingsman was founded for. And it was 1919. And then I got it wrong. I thought World War I ended in 1919 (I wasn’t great at history in school). And then I found out about the Treaty of Versailles and looked into why the war broke out. I’ve always been obsessed with Rasputin for all the wrong reasons, but I found him fascinating. And it all came together. And I was lucky enough. I thought, ‘Who could play the Duke of Oxford?’ Who could play a man that was sort of the King’s Man as the franchise we know. And Ralph was at the top of the list. Ralph doesn’t know this, but Ralph and David Niven. But David Niven couldn’t make it for several obvious reasons, and we begged Ralph to say yes. And there was a brilliant conversation between the two of us finding this interesting common ground. I think I got the “boy” side of Ralph out. Deep down he likes to have fun and has an adventurous spirit. And then he helped me engage in the drama more. Taught me a lot about that as well. It happened due to this weird hitch I got from watching The Man Who Would Be King.”
The next question went to veteran actor and Oscar nominee, Ralph Fiennes who was asked about what it was that drew him into the story.
“I think initially it was the drama. I play the Duke of Oxford, who’s is someone described [as] a reluctant hero. He’s a pacifist. He’s suffered the loss of his wife, which we understand in the first five minutes of the film. Then we learn later on that he’s been in the wars himself. He’s
he’s been awarded medals for bravery, but actually he’s profoundly anti- the waste of war. And the tension is set up with his son… my son Conrad, who I can’t bear the idea that he should go to war and lose his life in a terrible… conflict, which in Oxford’s opinion is a waste… Oxford believes there are other ways of combating the evil in the world than just going to war. So that drama that Matthew proposed, the father-son drama is the center of it. Alongside that came wonderful accessories like a great sword fight at the end of the movie… I love Matthew’s whole brilliant, albeit unique way of taking us through the story, a mix of seriousness, comedy, and satire. The whole menu of the story was very intoxicating. And it was a joy to act with everyone. We were a company of actors. Everyone’s characters were very well defined. So it was a very rewarding experience. Especially with the swordfighting.”
Relative newcomer, Harris Dickenson plays the son of Fiennes’ character Oxford, named Conrad. When asked about what inspirations he drew from for the role, Dickenson said the following:
“I think, you know, interestingly, when I started, when I got involved early on, I was lucky
that Matthew had a lot of information and resources. And once I started working with the brilliant dialect coach who helped a few of us — Neil Swain. We read a lot, and I think for
me, trying to translate it across, because ultimately it is still the same experience
people are having now as a young man or young woman when you’re trying to challenge your authority figure, or your parent figure, and sort of branch out into the world for yourself… so it was a collection of things, really. But, I think I also had a lot of that in myself, and my own experiences that I could draw upon.”
Gemma Arterton, who plays Polly, Oxford’s most trusted advisor, was also asked about the real life inspirations she drew from for her role.
“First and foremost it was apparent on the page that Polly was a really cool character. Matthew had written a really great character and I was trying to bring her to life as much as I could. I did draw inspiration from… I grew up in a working-class background, and there were a lot of women around me who were real fighters and took no shit… And also I guess during that time in history, there were women working behind the scenes, not necessarily in leadership roles. So all those amazing women; suffragettes and certainly later the Bletchley women who were code crackers who were instrumental during the second World War. So yes there were a mixture of inspirations.”
In addition to Arterton’s Polly, Oxford’s character is also accompanied by Shola, played by legendary actor Djimon Honsou. He was asked about the challenges of the fight scenes he has in the film.
“Well, the training, itself was something that I thought obviously, I was familiar with. [I have done] a number of action driven films… previous to coming on to Matthew Vaughn’s
film. I thought, you know, of course, with my background of, mixed martial arts and boxing, I
could handle this one quite easily. And to my surprise [it wasn’t.] I guess he has an expectation from action choreography that I did not previously experience anywhere else. And that the level of the expectation was, you know, a bit challenging. Working with a bunch of guys that were absolutely gifted: [the] stunt team.”
Character actor Rhys Ifans plays the over-the-top fan favorite Rasputin in the film. When asked about a particular scene where he has to eat a giant tart on screen, Ifans said this about the experience:
“Well, I mean, you know, after the sixth Bakewell tart I was looking for the HR woman,” he joked. “But yeah… I felt like a foie gras goose that day. But we got through it. And Matthew, you know, he again gave me and Ralph permission in the foreplay section I like to call it… permission to play, and boy, did he make me play. ‘Cause I’ve never eaten so much cake.”
And with that, we hope audiences are hungry for more spy action than ever before, because Matthew Vaughn’s The King’s Man hits theaters this Wednesday, December 22!
And for more coverage of The King’s Man stay tuned for more, including interviews and a review this week, only on The Nerds of Color!