Jonathan Crocker

Editorial Director | Journalist

Matthew Vaughn: Kick-Ass

Posted by Jonathan On April - 3 - 2010

How did Brad Pitt help make Kick-Ass happen?

I sent the script to Brad because I wanted him to play Big Daddy. He loved the script but he was just signing on to Inglourious Basterds. And he said, ‘I really like it, anything I can do to help?’ I said, ‘Well, I could really do with an American producer on this one just to help guide me.’ So he came on board.

Did he put money into the film?

You’d have to ask him that.

Who else did you ask to play Big Daddy?

I was sort of thinking Daniel Craig… I spoke to Daniel about it but he didn’t think it was for him. So, fair enough. Daniel Day-Lewis I thought would be good. We sent the script very early on to Nic, for Big Daddy and Frank D’Amico. He said he wanted to do Big Daddy.

What happened when Christopher Mintz-Plasse auditioned Kick-Ass?

After about a minute, it was like, not a chance in hell he could pull off Kick-Ass. But he was really good for Red Mist. And he was like, ‘Great, dude, let me read for it.’

So why wasn’t he right for Kick-Ass?

Kick-Ass, I didn’t want to be 100% nerd. And Chris… is pretty unique. If someone had told me he had a chance of being a movie star before Superbad, I would have laughed.

How did you get your inventors to say yes to a film that Hollywood said wouldn’t work?

Luckily, I’ve got a pretty decent track record in film, in investing and film-financing. And my core group of investors are people I’ve worked with before, so raising the money was pretty easy. They just trusted me, basically.

Weren’t they skeptical?

No, because they’ve met enough people in Hollywood to know if they’re saying no, we might be on to a good thing. They’re quite visionary these guys.

And the fact you’ve done this before?

Well, I have. That’s my point. Lock, Stock. Stardust, we raised half the money.

So in your mind, is self-funding Kick-Ass not as groundbreaking as people are saying?

I think the scale of this movie is pretty fucking groundbreaking – an independent movie that no one in Hollywood would make. Normally, it’s a movie like a Lock, Stock or a Billy Elliot, much smaller. That’s what’s unique about it.

Were you thinking of Leonwhen you cast Chloe as Hit Girl?

Yeah, I was… I put her and Leon and Taxi Driver. You’re looking for something but you also want it to be original. Which I think she is. I actually think she’s a cross between Jodie Foster and Natalie Portman.

What was it like shooting the scene where Mark Strong beats her up?

The trickiest thing about that was getting Mark to bloody do it. He was like, ‘I just don’t feel comfortable doing this.’ I said, ‘Stop being such a luvvie and get on with it. It’s your character. She’s just killed 40 of your guys and she’s a better killer than you are. Get on with it.’ There’s one scene where he punches her on a table and she gets up and he punches her again. And I said, ‘Cut! No, no, no… If the girl’s like that, you’re not going to punch her, you’re going to kick her in the head.’ And we got in a big argument. ‘I’m not kicking her in the head.’ I was like, ‘But that’s what you do! You wouldn’t lean down to punch someone, you’d just kick her. I’ve seen you do it before when you killed the other guy. You just stamped on his head.’ ‘Not doing it.’ I was like, ‘I can’t believe we’re having this argument… It’s your character!’ So he punched her instead.

So you never had a problem with the violence?

If you’re going to do it, do it. This isn’t a movie about holding back your punches. It’s about embracing the risk factor and going for it.

What happens if Kick-Ass doesn’t do well?

If it doesn’t do well? That’d be a bloody depressing day. It was a big moment in my career when it looked like we couldn’t even get distribution for Lock, Stock. And I remember sitting with Guy and I just said, ‘Well, Guy, I don’t know what to say to you other than the following: the film is a film that I am incredibly proud of, it’s the film I wanted to make, do you feel the same way?’ He said, ‘Yes I do.’ I said, ‘Well, in that case, we’re in the wrong fucking industry. Because we’ve made a movie we think is good and that we think people will like and yet we can’t get distribution.’ So, obviously, we’re wrong and they’re right.

Did you get depressed?

I was absolutely bummed out and depressed. I’ll probably have the same feeling if this doesn’t do well. I’ll think, okay, there isn’t a market place for doing different movies. I might as well go off and do fucking Van Helsing 2. You know what I mean? You’d suddenly go, fuck it, I don’t want to go through all the pain and heartache, I’ll be a director for hire, pay me lots of money and I’ll make some Hollywood shit for you. If that’s what you guys want, if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em.

Do you mind being asked the question?

It’s a good question. I’m glad you asked it. You know what, it the best fucking question a journalist has asked me in the last two weeks.

Do you stand to make a packet if it does do well?

If the film does well, I’ll be extremely happy… both creatively and financially. I will do alright.

Are you worried about being able to pay your investors back?

No, because they’ve already got their money back.

Do you regret the fact that Kenneth Branagh is doing Thor and not you?

I like Branagh, he’s a nice bloke so good luck to him. If I was doing Thor, I wouldn’t have made Kick-Ass.

Before Thor, you tried to buy the Tonight, He Comes script. How would your movie have been different to Hancock?

If I’d done it, it would have been quite similar to Kick-Ass actually. The irony is, if I’d done Tonight, He Comes, it would have been a very similar movie. If Kick-Ass had superpowers, that’s what that movie would have been.

How many people were bidding for the script?

It was just Sony and me. Michael Mann was selling it. He owned it. I was trying to buy it off him. I’m probably not allowed to talk about it, but fuck ‘em.

Publication: ShortList

2 Responses to “Matthew Vaughn: Kick-Ass”

  1. […] pitching round his Stardust producers, a certain Snatch alumni named Brad Pitt and reaching into his own pocket, Vaughn coined together a $50 million. “The whole budget, the […]

  2. […] is bollocks, right. Where did this come from? Did Vaughn say this? He actually just doing this to piss me off! I never said that. What I suggested was I […]

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Jonathan is a London-based journalist, critic and editor. He currently works for data visualisation agency Beyond Words.

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