Matthew Vaughn started life as a British producer, but over the past fifteen years has risen to be one of the most exciting, uncompromising Hollywood directors. He's done gangster with Layer Cake, fantasy with Stardust, two very different types of superheroes with Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class, and now spies with Kingsman: The Secret Service and new release Kingsman: The Golden Circle. Along the way, he's worked with frequent collaborator Mark Strong four times - on Stardust, Kick-Ass and both Kingsman films.
Screen Rant sat down with the pair to discuss that lengthy working relationship, as well as what makes Kingsman such a unique franchise and what we can expect next.
This is one of the few original franchises we've gotten recently - there's a lot of remakes and reboots - but this is fresh. When did you realize this new idea was going to be a hit and did you ever expect to get this big - with these big budget numbers and everything?
Matthew Vaughn: For the first film?
The whole franchise.
Vaughn: No. When I write or come up with a movie, it sounds corny but I'm making movies that I want to make and want to see. I have a pretty commercial taste and I'm always trying to recreate that feeling I had as a kid watching films. That sort of sense of awe and just being wrapped in a new world and not wanting the new world to go away. So that's all I'm trying to do - recreate that feeling that I used to have going to the cinema.
This film leans a lot on 1950s nostalgia - and then 1970s nostalgia of the 1950s - with the villain and setup, which is very different the 1980s nostalgia which is very prevalent at the moment. Was that a conscious decision to go further back and do something a little different to what we're getting a lot of now?
Vaughn: No. To me the 70s - I grew up, I'm an English guy, I grew up in the 70s as a kid and that's when the American culture was hitting me really hard so it really stuck in my head. Those images, and they are great images. So I was just - Kingsman was celebrating Britannia, I wanted to celebrate the Americana that I fell in love with as a kid. And I'm not good at predicting trends so it's really sad to hear that the 80s are back because I was part of the 80s and I remember it so well. [To Mark Strong] Which means we are officially old.
Mark Strong: [Laughs] Yeah we are. What's amazing is how that period lends itself to psychedelic otherness. Do you know what I mean? That Julianne [Moore] brings. That idea of America's sweetheart gone wrong really, really suits that diner ethic. That thing, it just works so well.
The really bright colors.
Strong: Yeah. There's something about it. That's what I meant - a psychedelic craziness.
You guys have obviously worked together quite a bit now. You've got a long-standing working relationship. Did you see it going this long when you first met? Did you think you'd be sat here in 2017 still working together?
Vaughn: It wasn't planned, but I think a lovely end result.
Strong: I didn't.
Vaughn: A happy accident!
Strong: He's loyal. And he's honest. And I think he just lacks - do you like having a rep company around you? Some directors, I think, just liked working with guys that they know because they don't have to do any bullsh*t, they don't get any bullsh*t back. They know what's required and you get on with it. And I like to think that's how we get on.
Vaughn: Actors can be the biggest pain in the arses you've ever worked with and you never know what you're going to get, so when you find actors who are brilliant and lovely, I hate letting them go. I keep them. That's what I'm thinking.
Strong: Well I feel the same way.
Vaughn: Directors can be wankers.
Strong: Oh my god.
What you do with Merlin in this film is quite interesting and it definitely feels like an evolution of previous stuff you've done. How did you approach, without going into spoilers, what you do with that character?
Strong: Well you take him to the next level. That's what you have to do, I suppose, with a sequel - you can't just retread old ground because people have seen that and they know it. So what's nice is that there's a confidence and an ease to Merlin that everybody appreciates because you're comfortable with him now, because you know who he is. So it was just really about seeing somebody very comfortable in the environment he's in. The relationship with Eggsy - when they start that opening scene is wonderful because they've saved the world and now the next time you see them they're going about their everyday business that they now do. And there's a sort of wit and humor when he encourages Eggsy to have to escape through the, you know - well he knows he's going to get covered in sh*t basically. And it's quite funny. So there's a comfort with that guy.
You obviously tease the potential for more stories, but you also tease that 2 isn't the midpoint, it's not the middle of a trilogy but there could be more. Do you have any plans for going 3, 4, 5 - or is it just as it comes?
Vaughn: No, no. We have a big plan for number 3. If you look at the ending of number 2, every single character is on the cusp of a new adventure which is set up – I hope, everyone’s thinking a question mark for what’s going to happen to all these guys next. And if they go buy tickets - and please buy tickets, please see it on a big screen - then we'll buy another one.
Strong: It demands to be seen on a big screen, this movie.
- Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017) release date: Sep 22, 2017