Following the success of Kick-Ass, director Matthew Vaughn and writer Mark Millar are preparing to release their next collaboration - Kingsman: The Secret Service. The film follows Harry Hart (Colin Firth) – who helps turn delinquent teenager Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (Taron Egerton) into a new spy recruit and bring him into the world of espionage. However, even though Eggsy is featured heavily in the trailers and serves as the inlet to the world of Kingsman, the most talked-about aspect of the project is Colin Firth’s move from romantic comedies and historical dramas to espionage action.
After three decades on the stage and screen, Firth has racked up enormous critical acclaim as well as industry awards – including an Academy Award for Best Actor following his portrayal of King George VI in The King’s Speech. Despite a lengthy filmography, the actor has never been tasked with portraying a lethal action hero – even though his fans have often pondered the possibility of Firth suiting up as Hollywood’s favorite spy, James Bond. While the actor isn’t set to play the next 007, with Harry Hart he is finally getting his shot as an equally suave (and deadly) spy – who, according to creator Mark Millar, is actually cooler than the current Bond.
While speaking with Millar and co-writer Dave Gibbons at Comic-Con 2014, the Kingsman filmmakers poked fun at the current, more emotional, version of James Bond (portrayed by Daniel Craig) while talking-up Firth’s portrayal of Harry Hart.
Will people be asking themselves “what if” about Colin Firth as James Bond now – after seeing this movie?
Dave Gibbons: I think he’s a great secret agent. Perhaps he’s the James Bond that never was but should have been – but now he gets to do all that cool James Bond stuff anyway. I think there’s a nice backstory to it as well that makes him even more of a hero.
Mark Millar: The weirdest thing is, I think if he had gotten that Bond gig ten years ago, he’d have been bored – because this [Kingsman] is cool. James Bond cries in the shower now in these movies but [Firth] gets to do cool stuff – like firing these gadgets and all this stuff. I think he got the best gig in the end.
Later, in the Kingsman: The Secret Service press conference, Firth was candid about his transition from dramatic actor to dramatic action hero - offering a tongue-in-cheek response about waiting “long enough” for the part of James Bond before elaborating on what makes Kingsman: The Secret Service an even better fit for him:
Firth: I enjoyed this kind of thing growing up in the 60s and the character of the spy movie has its roots in the 60s. It’s the Man from Uncle, it’s the Harry Palmer films, it’s John Steed’s Avengers, and those early Bond films. It’s the guy in the suit who seems slick and cool and capable but very contained but you cross him at your peril. He’ll get you with the umbrella or a slick move or a gadget or something – so it was all that. But it took Matthew Vaughn to invite me.
You know, I’ve been here waiting for the offer on Bond for long enough [laughs] but it was Matthew Vaughn who decided it was a good combination – because he likes to take your presumptions about people and flip them on their head. So he came to me and said, you’re the last person on Earth that anyone would expect to kick anyone’s ass and it I think it’ll be a big surprise but I’d really like you do it. Are you up for it?
Apparently Firth rose to the challenge. Mid-way through the press conference Millar backed the decision to cast Firth in the role – promising that the actor doesn’t just bring a great performance, he’s an amazing fighter.
Millar: [The clip we'll be showing] in Hall-H this afternoon of Colin fighting, I’ve watched about 200 hundred times, is absolutely amazing and I can’t wait to see what Hugh Grant is like when he watches it. He’s going to be shitting himself.”
Millar is, of course, referring back to Firth’s high profile fight scene with Hugh Grant in Bridget Jones’s Diary - which the actor had previously described as his most memorable experience with fight choreography. In case you need a refresher, check out the scene below:
In all seriousness, it’s exciting to see Firth take-on the challenge of a film that is heavy on choreographed action – especially for anyone who has actually read The Secret Service comic series and knows exactly how crazy and intricate the combat sequences can get. Most importantly, with such a talented actor in the lead role, Firth helps ensure that otherwise zany action moments carry real weight – instead of attempting to simply wow audiences with visuals alone. Assuming that he does nail the more physical aspects of the role, Firth could be the next entry in a line of drama and comedy actors (most recently Chris Pratt) that have surprised moviegoers and studios with untapped action chops. Kingsman appears poised to change our perception of Firth – which, as indicated in our interview, should result in plenty of fans pondering what a Colin Firth-led 007 film might have looked like.
Unfortunately, Fox has yet to release a second official trailer for Kingsman: The Secret Service (though they debuted a sizzle reel that could be very close to what we’ll see in the next trailer) – so, anyone who wasn’t inside Hall-H for Firth’s clip will have to wait a bit longer to see the fan-favorite actor in action.
Kingsman: The Secret Service opens in U.S. theaters on October 24th, 2014.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for further updates on Kingsman: The Secret Service as well as future movie, TV, and gaming news.