Meeting with the director of Kingsman.
Kingsman first of the name, released in 2015 at the cinema, returns tonight on W9. At the time, we had met its director. Here is his interview, to wait until the rebroadcast of this action comedy.
Matthew, Kingsman is without doubt one of the most British films ever made… Wow, coming from a Frenchman, I don’t know how I should take this remark… Ah ah! No, seriously, you’re right, this idea of celebrating Britishness was actually at the heart of the film. Kingsman was born during a very drunken conversation in a pub. That night, with Mark Millar (author of Kick-Ass and the comics that inspired Kingsman), we locked pints talking about spy movies. We lamented that the genre is now completely devoid of fun. Bond, Bourne, it’s the same character twice, only their accent can tell them apart… After that, the script was super easy to write, it’s really a best-of of everything i have done so far – the gangster movie with Layer Cakethe superhero movie starring Kick-Ass and X-Men… It’s funny to say, but it’s probably my most personal film.
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Personal, but still very big… When I start thinking about a film, I don’t care about the budget. Moreover, basically Kingsman was supposed to be a small indie movie. But it never stopped getting bigger, bigger and bigger… After a while, I did the accounts and realized that the bill was going to be steep! In the end, it must cost something like a third of a James Bond. Seen from Hollywood, it’s tiny. For the indies, it’s a huge war machine.
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A British alternative to the Yankee blockbuster? That was kind of the idea, yes. Can you imagine a studio producing that?
The immense pleasure that we take in front of Kingsman comes from the very careful way in which you manage the tone of the film. It’s all about dosage. It’s ironic but never cynical, postmodern and referential but never dusty… Please point it out. We went to great lengths and it feels good to know that the message has been received. Because one thing is certain: no one will ever give us an Oscar for Kingsman ! But yes, indeed, the idea was really to celebrate spy movies. Let it be joyful, never cynical or negative. It was a question of not taking oneself seriously, without sinking into parody. Neither Bourne nor Austin Powers!
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The Americans have the superhero films, the French have the postgraduate films and the English have the spy films. How and why did this genre become the ultimate symbol of British fiction in your opinion? We have Ian Fleming, Harry Palmer, Bowler hat and leather boots, John Le Carré, it’s true that the tradition is rich… I don’t really know how to explain it. We English are so discreet, reserved, we never show our emotions, maybe we are the ultimate spies after all. Roger Moore once said: “James Bond is the worst spy on the planet, as soon as he lands somewhere, there is someone to recognize him: ‘Hello Mr Bond'”. Ha ha! Well, that partly contradicts my theory, but I like this joke…
It has always been a question that Colin Firth take the lead role? Since that famous night at the pub with Mark Millar ? Hmm… I don’t know anymore. No memory. As I was telling you, we had a lot to drink that evening. The original question was: who is the David Niven of today? We came to Colin quite naturally.
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And Michael Caine ? Was it unthinkable to make the film without him? On all my films, I make it a point to hire an actor that I loved when I was a kid. On stardustI had on hand Robert de Niro AND Peter O’Toole… Not bad is not it ? Michael Caine is an inexhaustible reservoir of anecdotes. Having the privilege of chatting with him between takes is reason enough to do this job.
How to explain to the French what it represents in the eyes of the English? Easy: it’s our Alain Delon.
You complain that the “spy” genre has become too serious today. Do you think Bond will ever be fun again? Sure. Bond will survive it all. In the 70s, it was sent into space to compete with Star Wars. He outlived Moonraker, he will outlive Jason Bourne.
A few years ago, you almost made Casino Royale. Kingsmanis this your revenge? Yes, for 24 hours, I thought I was going to direct a James Bond… I was able to give my opinion on the script, tell the people at MGM things like “ Daniel Craig really is a great choice. Ha ha! Then they changed their minds… It was hard. But all is well today. I got rid of my frustration thanks to Kingsman.
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