Manners. Maketh. Man. Such was the mantra that introduced Taron Egerton’s Eggsy into the world of espionage, after a casual meeting over a pint (and an epic bar brawl) from Colin Firth’s mild-mannered Harry Hart. And from there a journey was created that has now shifted into an exciting upcoming film depicting the origins of the Kingsman organization: The King’s Man!
Today, the cast of The King’s Man as well as director Matthew Vaughn, took to the stage to share several secrets with members of the press about the latest installment in the blockbuster franchise. Here’s what they had to say:
The film was inspired by John Huston’s classic film, The Man Who Would Be King
When asked about the origins of the project, director Vaughn stated this:
“Well, I rewatched a movie called The Man Who Would Be King. And I joked about ‘wouldn’t it be great to make The Man Who Would Be Kingsman?’ And sort of it reminded me of why I fell in love with cinema. The idea of an epic historical adventure film, but with great actors, great characters, humor, pathos, and pure escapism and entertainment. And then I remembered the speech that Harry gave to Eggsy. How, when, why, and what Kingsman was founded for. And it was 1919. And then I got it wrong. I thought World War I ended in 1919 (I wasn’t great at history in school). And then I found out about the Treaty of Versailles and looked into why the war broke out. I’ve always been obsessed with Rasputin for all the wrong reasons, but I found him fascinating. And it all came together. And I was lucky enough. I thought, ‘Who could play the Duke of Oxford?’ Who could play a man that was sort of the King’s Man as the franchise we know. And Ralph was at the top of the list. Ralph doesn’t know this, but Ralph and David Niven. But David Niven couldn’t make it for several obvious reasons, and we begged Ralph to say yes. And there was a brilliant conversation between the two of us finding this interesting common ground. I think I got the “boy” side of Ralph out. Deep down he likes to have fun and has an adventurous spirit. And then he helped me engage in the drama more. Taught me a lot about that as well. It happened due to this weird hitch I got from watching The Man Who Would Be King.
Ralph Fiennes loves swordfighting epics
After being asked about what drew him to the project and his character, Oxford, Fiennes had this to say:
“Along side the [father-son drama at the center of the movie] came wonderful accessories like great swordfighting at the end of the movie. And I’ve always loved staged swordfighting. I love films where swordfighting is at the center, like Ridley Scott’s The Duelist. And I love watching those old Basil Rathbone and Erol Flynn/Robin Hood [films]. The actors in the 30s and 40s really knew what to do with a sword. So that was a really lovely gift at the end of the film. And I love Matthew’s whole brilliant, albeit unique way of taking us through the story, a mix of seriousness, comedy, and satire. The whole menu of the story was very intoxicating. And it was a joy to act with everyone. We were a company of actors. Everyone’s characters were very well defined. So it was a very rewarding experience. Especially with the swordfighting.”
Gemma Arterton’s character Polly drew heavily from the suffragettes of the era and the Bletchley code breakers of World War II
Arterton’s Polly was one of the major standouts of The King’s Man. When asked about what her source of inspiration for the character was, Arterton had this to say:
“First and foremost it was apparent on the page that Polly was a really cool character. Matthew had written a really great character and I was trying to bring her to life as much as I could. I did draw inspiration from…I grew up in a working-class background, and there were a lot of women around me who were real fighters and took no shit…And also I guess during that time in history, there were women working behind the scenes, not necessarily in leadership roles. So all those amazing women; suffragettes and certainly later the Bletchley women who were code crackers who were instrumental during the second World War. So yes there were a mixture of inspirations.”
The fight with Rasputin took 2-3 weeks to choreograph and shoot
Upon being asked about the details of his big fight sequence in the movie, actor Rhys Ifans stated that “Unlike Djimon, I was an action virgin prior to this film…All of us had to get to a level of fitness – not just strength, but stamina – to complete a working day. It took us about 2-3 weeks to complete that sequence. So yes, we were working with a trainer and with this brilliant stunt team. So trying to find this physical language or vernacular that was specific and unique to Rasputin. And I remember Matthew in another lightbulb genius moment of his, came up with quite possibly one of the craziest ideas I’ve ever heard. He came into the stunt room and said, ‘Russian Dancing. Martial Arts. Mix Them up!’…For me in terms of how I wanted Rasputin to live in this physical world, the sense that Rasputin had this looming hypnotic presence…this sense that he would dance his advisories to death. That everyone Rasputin kills has a drunken smile on their face. He’d spin about the room and kill in rapture. So all these elements came to play. And it was a huge group effort. And it was satisfying to see the end result.”
There was no room for improvisations for the painful fights
When asked if anything about the fight was improvised, Djimon Hounsou stated:
“The only improvisation that came as a result of watching Rasputin spin-off on the table, kicking crazy – I thought looking from a distance, ‘My character is just going to watch this mad man just spin around like that?’ And I thought the most organic thing would be to try to kick him off the table. That was the only improvisation. But there was really no room, as far as the action is concerned, to improvise. It was very set with a tone that was very edgy and fast. And I’ve come to understand that he really wanted to feel like it was an organic fight. So needless to say it came with a tremendous challenge, and it was quite painful.”
Overall it was an exciting experience to see these excellent actors work together in such a fun and wild capacity, in a franchise that is known for setting the bar on outlandish espionage action.
The King’s Man hits theaters on December 22nd!
About the author: When not saving the world from apocalyptic circumstances, Mike Manalo is a mild-mannered freelance reporter passionate about attending comic cons, premieres, and screenings. Hobbies include being obsessed with comics, movies, and all things nerdy!