There’s a reason why director Matthew Vaughn decided to withdraw from directing “X-Men: Days of Future Past” to direct “Kingsman: The Secret Service” instead. He makes every fanboy’s wet dream come true by featuring ridiculous amounts of gore, a distinct lack of shaky cams, and an array of impressive spy gadgets for this spy movie. With blood and guts spurting everywhere, it came as no surprise that it is rated R by vast majority of the film boards.
“Kingsman: The Secret Service” centres on Gary “Eggsy” Unwin, a street kid who sways his way into a secret spy organisation his late father used to work in. He is portrayed by Hollywood newcomer Taron Egerton, who has clearly become a rising star through his breakthrough role in this movie.
While the film was highly praised by most of the movie critics, some left the cinemas in utter disappointment due to its crude and subversive jokes. Well, we don’t blame them because people are always going to have something to say about a movie that is filled with gore elements and silly jokes. It’s just a matter of how much viewers can take.
“Kingsman: The Secret Service” was officially released on 19th February this year and we can pretty much guarantee that it is an highly entertaining action-movie to watch. For those who’ve watched “Kick-Ass”, you will definitely enjoy this. But whether or not you’ve watched this movie, here are some of the things you might not know about “Kingsman: The Secret Service”:
*P.S: This article contain potential spoilers
1. It’s loosely based on “The Secret Service” comic book series by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons
Mark Millar; you heard his name but you probably didn’t know that the comic book series he co-wrote with Dave Gibbons is the source of inspiration for director Matthew Vaughn to direct “Kingsman: The Secret Service”. The “X-Men: First Class” director made the movie loosely based on the 2012 spy comic book series, “The Secret Service”. Millar is best known for his work on comic books such as “The Authority”, “The Ultimates”, “Marvel Knights Spider-Man”, “Ultimate Fantastic Four”, “Civil War“, “Wanted”, and “Kick-Ass”.
However, unlike the comic series he created for Marvel and DC, there are only a total of 6 issues for the comic book series. Since Vaughn directed the movie loosely based on the series, some plot elements and characters were changed including the central character’s connection with his “uncle”.
2. Colin Firth did 80% of his own stunts
According to stunt coordinator and second unit director Bradley James Allen, Colin Firth did 80% of his own stunts. Considering how Jackie Chan (I mean, Datuk Jackie Chan) is one of the few actors who does most of his own stunts in action movies, this is indeed mind-blowing for us because not many of us would expect Colin Firth to do the same. However, that was exactly what director Matthew Vaughn wanted: To pull a surprise by messing with people’s expectations.
In order to portray gentleman spy Harry Hart, Firth had a training schedule that had him running around 3 hours a day for several weeks. The stunt work was a new experience for Firth and the training was obviously rigorous and painful. The Jackie Chan training team came to his house and made him work out for around 6 months so that he can be in top fighting shape and physical form. Brad Allen is a kung fu black belt who worked with Jackie Chan while Rudi Vrba is a Thai boxing world champion. The team also includes stuntman Rick English and an Olympic gold medal gymnast, Damien Walters. It is no wonder that Firth would describe the movie’s crack stunt as “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” as they all had their own sets of skills.
3. In real life, Taron Egerton is scared of dogs
In one particular sequence, Taron Egerton’s Eggsy and other young candidates who are going under training for “the most dangerous job interview in the world” are required to train a dog of their choice. Eggsy chose a pug, which he initially thought was a bulldog. He may seem calm petting the dog but in real life, Egerton confessed that he is afraid of dogs. During an interview with Belfast Telegraph, Egerton said:
I like dogs, I just don’t choose to spend time with them. You know what, it’s something I’ve really only admitted to myself in the last couple of years: I think that I’m a bit scared of them.
He further claimed that he is more of “cat man” and hopes to gain a “feline friend” if there’s a sequel.
4. In the comic book series, “Star Wars” veteran Mark Hamill is one of the celebrities kidnapped by Professor Arnold
In the movie, “Star Wars” veteran Mark Hamill plays Professor James Arnold, a climate scientist who gets kidnapped by Samuel L. Jackson’s Richmond Valentine. The character was named after James Arnold Taylor, a fellow voice-artist and close friend of Mark Hamill and Mark Millar. However, in the comic book series, he happened to be one of the celebrities kidnapped by a villain called Dr. Arnold instead.
But that’s not all. Lady Gaga, Adele, David Beckham, and Elton John were also rumoured to appear in the movie but the rumour turned out to be untrue as they have merely appeared in the comic book series as the celebrities kidnapped by the villain. As Hamill plays Luke Skywalker who fought against the Imperial army in the original trilogy, Vaughn left an Easter egg by putting Imperial University under Arnold’s education.
5. Gender tweak
Best known as the Nike Girl from Nike Women advertising campaigns, Sofia Boutella plays Gazelle, the villain’s henchwoman with bladed prosthetic legs. However, in the comic book series, Gazelle is a dark skinned muscleman with bionic legs given by Dr. Arnold. Double amputee snowboarder Amy Purdy was originally cast as “Gazelle” but when the filming was delayed, she dropped out of the film so that she can join the Olympics.
Gazelle is not the only character that has gone through a gender tweak as the gender of some of Eggsy’s classmates were changed for the sake of gender equality.
6. Oscar Pistorius was offered to play Gazellle
Inspired by the 2012 Paralympics in London, the director wanted to have a character with a prosthetic leg similar to the “Flex-Foot Cheetah” as worn by paralympian sprinters. South African sprint runner Oscar Pistorius was offered to play the villainous role but he declined the offer so that he can focus on practicing for future sporting events.
In an ironic twist of fate, Pistorious shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in February 2013. He shot Steenkamp through a door and in the movie, Gazelle did the same by shooting someone through a door.
7. The movie inspires Mr. Porter’s clothing line
Director Matthew Vaughn collaborated with costume designer Arianne Phillips and award-winning global men’s style retail tailors “MR PORTER” to combine the best international menswear for a new menswear label crafted especially for the movie. The full menswear line was created with tailoring and manufacturing by some of Britain’s most elite, famous, and trusted clothing brands. This is the first time a director came up with the idea for a full collection of clothing when the film was being developed.
Instead of the traditionally tailored and cut, Vaughn created the sleek, double breasted Kingsman suits for the actors. The price range will start at a $1,750 price point as the collection includes George Cleverley footwear, Turnbull & Asser shirts, Drakes’ ties, Cutler & Gross eyewear, Bremont timepieces, and Mackintosh outwear. Phillips is currently planning a spring 2015 collection and it might turn into a permanent new brand.
8. Richmond Valentine was originally intended to not have a lisp
Just like most of the villains in the James Bond franchise, Samuel L. Jackson’s character of Richmond Valentine has some form of physical physical dysfunction or abnormality. In this case, Jackson plays a silly version of a Bond villain with his ridiculous lisp. He completed his first take with a lisp but it was later revealed that his character wasn’t supposed to have a lisp.
Prior to having an acting career, Jackson revealed to the director he actually had a lisp before. However, he was able to overcome it. With the lisp, he jokingly remarked that it is Valentine’s intention for being villainous.
9. The church fight scene is censored in Indonesia
The brutal church fight scene is considered the best scene in “Kingsman: The Secret Service” as the epic climactic fight sequence was shot in just one take. However, censorship is an issue with all cinematic releases and the scene was ultimately censored by the film boards in Indonesia.
According to Zero Sumo, the brutal church fight scene was censored in Indonesia by LSP. The scene was deemed not suitable for the audiences as the film board fears it might offend Christians. Ironically, the sexually suggestive ending scene was not removed.
10. How Vaughn decided to use “Free Bird”
In “X-Men: Days of Future Past“, director Bryan Singer used Jim Croce’s “Time In A Bottle” for one of the most iconic scenes in the movie. But for “Kingsman: The Secret Service”, Vaughn used one of the longer guitar solos for the church fight scene, which is said to be the best scene in the entire movie. When asked about his inspiration for the soundtrack, Vaughn stated that he originally used Gun N’ Roses’ “November Rain” for that particular scene. However, since the guitar solo is not long enough and darker than he realised, he went online to search for “great long American guitar solos” instead.
The first song that came up on search results is Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” and thus, Vaughn decided to use it. A friend of his, Charles Martin, did a remix on the song and fortunately, it fits perfectly into the scene.
11. A possible sequel (*spoiler alert)
Director Matthew Vaughn told US Today in an interview that the movie would have a sequel if the movie does well in America.
A lot of people are very upset that Colin might not be in the sequel but I’m coming up with ideas at the moment. If people buy tickets in America, I’ve got a feeling we’ll figure out a way for having Colin back.
Bringing back Colin Firth is highly unlikely but there are tons of ways to bring his character back from the dead. Thus, Vaughn made it clear that the sequel would probably still put Eggsy as the central character.
The sequel will be “This is the modern-day gentleman spy.” Because Harry isn’t. Harry even says, “There is a reason why we’ve developed weak chins.” He said that meaning, “Look at us, we need to get new blood into this system,” and that’s what Eggsy is. I joke that we’ve made the prequel to the Eggsy movie.
12. More than 60 young actors were screen-tested for the role of Gary “Eggsy” Unwin
Before Taron Egerton officially joined the cast of the film, more than 60 young actors were screen-tested for the role of Gary ‘Eggsy‘ Unwin. “Kick-Ass” actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson was originally offered the role but he declined the offer because he is set to play Quicksilver in Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron”.
After a long search for the movie’s lead character, relatively unknown Welsh actor Taron Egerton emerged as one of the frontrunners for the part alongside Jack O’Connell and John Boyega. Vaughn eventually casted Egerton because he “had a like-ability about him which was so unique”.
13. Emma Watson and Bella Heathcole were eyed for the female lead role of Roxy
Newcomer Sophie Cookson plays the female lead role of Roxy, one of the young candidates for the next Lancelot in Kingsman. Before Cooskon was cast as Roxy, Hollywood A-listers Emma Watson and Bella Heathcote were considered to play the female lead role. Best known for her role as Hermione Granger in the “Harry Potter” film franchise, Emma Watson was being widely tipped for the part. “Dark Shadow” star Bella Heathcote was also rumoured to play Roxy but Sophie Cookson managed to beat both Watson and Heathcote for the part in the Vaughn-directed movie.
As for the role of arch-villain Richmond Valentine, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Cruise, and Idris Elba were considered for the part but Vaughn eventually casted Samuel L. Jackson.
14. Taron Egerton worked out very hard to a size 88 kilos (194 pounds) and just 5 percent body fat for the movie
As a relatively new actor in the film industry, Taron Egerton worked really hard for his part as he felt it was “necessary to show muscle definition if you are going to save the world”. Just like Colin Firth, he worked out for months to get in shape and eventually built 6-pack abs for his shirtless scenes. He reportedly got up to a size 88 kilos (194 pounds) and just 5% body fat just for his role.
Although it “required a lifestyle change” and “total commitment to living a certain way and being very militant about what you eat”, he said he enjoyed the experience and would definitely do it again if there is a sequel.
15. The underwater scene that almost went horrifically wrong
In the movie, the Kingsman recruits were having their first night’s sleep interrupted by a deluge of water pouring into their dorm. However, the scene almost went horrifically wrong as the cast nearly drowned on set after the computers went rogue.
Director Matthew Vaughn said:
I shouted “Action!”, the computer got it wrong and, vrrrrrssshhh… [everyone was] 20 feet down. Cameras, sound guys… guys were in waders full of water, panic, everyone diving in, pulling people out.
The set-up was painstakingly planned and rehearsed using height markers and computer-programmed water tanks but it got washed away after the computers went rogue. “Those actors were not acting, they were absolutely terrified,” Vaughn said. “It was awful, the first day of filming. Very, very tough.”
“Kingsman: The Secret Service” is rated R and opens nationwide on 18th February 2015.