"You're either good at acting, talented, and a natural... Or not." – Colin Firth
On the set of 'Kingsman: Secret Service'
British actor Colin Firth is practically the embodiment of a traditional English gentleman. Often playing aristocrats with his instantly-recognisable accent, Hollywood has welcomed the 53-year-old star with open arms, and in his most recent title; Kingsman: The Secret Service, directed by X-Men's Matthew Vaughn, he plays a veteran agent who takes a young delinquent under his wing. When we catch up with him, fittingly, he is sporting a perfectly tailored suit with a cane in his hand...
Buro 24/7 sits down with the iconic actor to find out more:
We've obviously caught you in the middle of shooting; tell us about the scene you are working on...
Imagine you are a typical English pub, where people are sitting and drinking. Suddenly the door opens and I enter, quietly look around, and run towards a few men who were just peacefully sitting at a tables. They try to attack me and I swipe them down with my specially made personalised umbrella, stacking them in a neat pile.
Your wrestling coach told us that you were "pleasantly surprised" by training?
Yes, I often have to fight in this film.
"I play a hero in a three-piece suit embroidered with his initial in the lining"
Matthew Vaughn is very attentive to detail. Does that help you as an actor?
Sometimes certain items can be distracting, but Matthew uses them to help the actors get into character. I play a hero who wears a three-piece suit that has the inner lining embroidered with his initials. I doubt that will even be visible on screen, but it helped us believe world that we create.
Tell us more about your character.
I am a spy, and the viewer does not know anything about my past. I teach a young guy to follow the right path, and he then becomes part of an espionage organisation, of which the members are big snobs. So it is important to teach him not only professional techniques, but also how to deal with these people. He must learn manners, learn how to dress and wear a suit.
The theme of class inequality is very apparent in the film, is this something that interests you personally?
As an actor, no, that's not a topic I am particularly interested in. But I am very familiar with the problem, which exists in England everywhere. In the film there are several satirical observations on this subject, but we do not delve into it.
Matthew Vaughn is a master of surprise, would you agree?
Absolutely. He plays with the audience. Just look at his casting! In this title I am a killing machine, and in something like Stardust you have Robert De Niro wearing lingerie!
Kingsman: Secret Service echoes to the innovative gadgets of James Bond – did you enjoy that element?
Oh yeah, it's fun. As a theme in itself, I think it appeals to the modern tastes of viewers. We mix all possible espionage genres, and reference a wide variety of heroes, and then bring everything to the extreme... And I just play the old one. (Laughs).
The film was written by Matthew Vaughn and Mark Millar, based on the latter's comic book. Did you read the comic before accepting the role?
Yeah. Immediately after my first meeting with Matthew, I read the comics, and back then in fact there was no script. I liked them. I knew what to expect from him. He always adds a humorous element to his films, but doesn't forget to turn back and nod to the dramatic moments, therefore keeping it dynamic. The audience will laugh, cry and be shocked to see what happens. All these emotions arise in the background of a film about very personal human relations.
"The audience will laugh, cry and be shocked to see what happens"
Taron Eagerton plays your successor 'Eggsy', as his first major role. Do you think he found it hard to work with actors of such magnitude?
It was my role to support Taron on the set, and he's just awesome. Matthew Vaughn searched long and hard for the actor for this role and he found the right one. Everything I know about acting I learned from people who are younger than me. I do not think that it is necessarily something that you can teach. You're either good, talented, a natural – or not.
This film deals with heroes of espionage, what did that mean to you?
The group of characters involved in Kingsman share three things: they are rich, they go to the same tailor and their children were killed in the war. One day, while sitting at said tailors, they decide that the state is unable to protect its people, provoking the war. And so they create a 'League of Extraordinary Gentlemen' who want to put an end to evil, corruption and fraud. They are not against the state, they, like all superheroes exist apart from it. You know, I used to like the hero of a lonely character Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, Batman. But here we had a whole team! And I liked being part of it.