We thoroughly enjoyed last year’s comic book come big screen satirical spy thriller, Kingsman: The Secret Service. The film has just been released on DVD and TVG got the scoop with Mr Colin Firth as he discusses his role as Harry Hart.
Q: In some way did you see Harry as almost a super spy in a sense that he incorporated lots of different spies from cinematic history? He’s a bit Jason Bourne, he’s a bit James Bond…
C. Firth: I think one of the things that Matthew Vaughn seems to specialize in is taking everything he loves; he’ll pillage from things he grew up with knowing that we grew up with them too. And just from the point of view of an excited fan wants it partly an homage. It’s satirical, so he’s sending it out without laying into it. By the time he’s done with it, it just feels like it could only be him though, you know. Of course, my character there’s definitely some Bond there, there’s definitely John Steed, there’s some Harry Palmer, there’s David Nivin. And I think what he told me was that the Bond that he wanted me to channel was in Ian Fleming’s original idea of a gentleman spy.
Q: Did it take much for Mathew to persuade you to take on the role? It does involve a lot of action, which is something you may not be as familiar with.
C. Firth: It should’ve taken a lot to lead me to the decision, but in fact it was a moment of recklessness where I just thought you know let’s just see what happens, because he didn’t even show me a script! So I was going blind in to God knows what. It was not a considered decision. I met Matthew about a year and a half before we started filming. So he gave me an overview. He gave me the comics to take away because he wanted to be writing with somebody in mind, so that’s partly why he met me early, but also he wanted to know if I was prepared to take a great deal of pain. I think I’d be a lot more skeptical if he said “I’m casting you because I think you’re the butchest actor in Britain.” I think it would’ve been the end of the conversation, but he said no you’re the last person anyone’s going to expect to be doing all this. You know cold steel killer with all these skills. And I thought okay now that’s interesting because he’s obviously subverting peoples expectations. And he does that all along. He does it throughout every film. And that’s what keeps you interested when you watch the film. So I thought alright, I’ll take that agenda, but he said you’re going to have to train because in order to sell this to the skeptics, it has to be you. You know it’s not going to work if we just cut to the stunt man in the old conventional way. So I learnt to do it. And so three hours a day, every day, six months later, there I was.
Q: After all of that preparation, when you actually came to shoot the scenes, did you find them reasonably comfortable?
C. Firth: It was never comfortable for any of us, even the really skilled guys. Because it was a feat of memory as much as anything else. It had to be choreographed, then it had be remembered, so we were all doing the dance. And it is a dance. In the end that’s what it is. I mean it’s footwork and remembering the moves. Including the guy holding the camera. Because the big long extended fight is a continuous, extended, single camera sequence. It’s not intercut at all, which I think is why its got that quite kinetic quality about it; it’s because it’s like theatre. You’re seeing people actually doing real stuff. It’s very difficult to cheat. And if someone’s gone on their left foot instead of their right, you get thumped, by something or someone. You’ve got to be in the right place. And so it was intense, and time is always limited. You know we had to get this done on schedule and it had to be right. And the stunt guys are very, very, very demanding. But to rewind back to the beginning; it started with me just seeing if I could do a bloody squat. It’s first get you mobile, then get you strong, then get you fit, and then speed you up a bit, and then get our muscle memory to be able to remember the moves. So by the time I did it I was sort of in the ballpark for everything. Actually doing it well was the challenge.
Own Kingsman: The Secret Service on Digital HD, Blu-ray and DVD today.