SDCC: MATTHEW VAUGHAN ON KICK-ASS

| August 3, 2009

While Comic Con tends to be dominated by the Hollywood studios, this year one film was represented that was awaiting distribution, Kick-Ass, directed by Stardust’s Matthew Vaughan. The film revolves around Dave Lizewski, an unnoticed high school student and comic book fan with a few friends who lives alone with his father. His life is not very difficult and his personal trials not that overwhelming. However, one day he makes the simple decision to become a super-hero even though he has no powers or training. The film stars comic book fan Nicolas Cage, along with Superbad’s Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and represents a departure for its British director Matthew Vaughan, who talked to PAUL FISCHER following the film’s panel in San Diego.
QUESTION: Is this more your sensibility than some big studio, big franchise, well-known piece?
MATTHEW VAUGHAN: I’d like to do a big studio franchise in this style. So – but, yeah. I think the studio movies – well, The Dark Knight showed that you can – and Iron Man, in a way– that you can mix it up a bit. Yeah, I’d love to do a big studio flick. But I’m bored of seeing the same movie made again and again, with a different name and a different actor. And I just thought – you know, I read the comic, and I just knew that I could make a film that was different, but commercial and fun. So I decided to go do it.
QUESTION: Out of all these outrageous characters, did any of them – did one become kind of like your favorite child?
MATTHEW VAUGHAN: Hit Girl. Yeah, she’s great.
QUESTION: And why’s that?
MATTHEW VAUGHAN: She’s just great, she really is. And she’s brilliant.
QUESTION: Was it difficult to persuade Nic Cage to do this?
MATTHEW VAUGHAN: Nic is a big comic book fan, and he just read the script and went, “This is cool. I’m in.” Simple as that. You know, Nic’s – how to describe this. He wants to do good work, and – you know, he was very cool. It was – literally, we sent him the script. And he read it and said, “I’m in.” So, it was a very easy process.
QUESTION: What sort of crazy action can we look forward to?
MATTHEW VAUGHAN: Well, it’s 11-year-old girls slicing and dicing people, and getting shot. I mean, I’m very bored of the way most of the big movies shoot action. All this shaky camera, handheld, close cutting, quick cutting. And so I’ve tried to put a narrative story into every action sequence.
QUESTION: And how violent is it?
MATTHEW VAUGHAN: Violent as it can be. Violent.
QUESTION: Is it full-on R-rated?
MATTHEW VAUGHAN: Full-on. But it’s got a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor, so it’s not gratuitous. But it is violent.
QUESTION: What kind of stunt is the hardest to film?
MATTHEW VAUGHAN: A good one. I mean modern technology, you can do anything nowadays. Probably an original stunt is hard to film. Something that people haven’t seen before.
QUESTION: How much of this is Millar and Romita, and where can you put Matthew Vaughan into it?
MATTHEW VAUGHAN: Well, they made the comic, I made the movie. But they’re joined at the hip. It was very collaborative, so, I think I put a bit more humor into it than it is in the comic.
QUESTION: Talk about the casting of Chris Mintz-Plasse. He seems to be the up and coming comic. Does he provide much of a comic relief in the film?
MATTHEW VAUGHAN: He can’t help himself. I think – yeah, he does. He’s cool in it. He’s very cool.
QUESTION: You cast him after his role in Superbad?
MATTHEW VAUGHAN: Yes, 100 percent. I remember watching Superbad, and I thought, “This kid’s great.”
QUESTION: Do you want to do something different after this?
MATTHEW VAUGHAN: Well, I’ve managed – I think from Layer Cake, Stardust, to Kick-Ass – my rule is, if there’s a story I want to tell, then I’ll do it. So, I don’t know what it will be next. But it’s all about – you know, if I find – if I have to think too hard, then I know it’s not the right movie for me. Because either I just see it in my head and go off and make it, or I don’t. And I haven’t found – I have no idea what will be next.
QUESTION: What was the reception like downstairs?
MATTHEW VAUGHAN: We got two standing ovations. So. I got told no one got a standing ovation today. So, we got two of them. Pretty good!
QUESTION: Is this your first Comic-Con?
MATTHEW VAUGHAN: First Comic-Con.
QUESTION: And – what do you think?
MATTHEW VAUGHAN: You know, I’m stuck doing this crap all day long. I don’t even get a chance to see it. It sort of annoyed me. I’d rather be out there. I was desperate to go see Avatar, and I couldn’t. But tomorrow I’m going to try and sneak around and have a look at things.
QUESTION: Were you not here for Stardust?
MATTHEW VAUGHAN: No, I was filming. No, Stardust was here, but I didn’t get to it. So.
QUESTION: For movies like this, that have such a fan following before it eve and comes out, are you the type to pay attention to the fat patter, the fan buzz on the internet?
MATTHEW VAUGHAN: I’m on there reading it.
QUESTION: Do you take any of it to heart?
MATTHEW VAUGHAN: Don’t take it to heart, I just think if there’s a good idea, I’ll listen. If it’s a bad idea, I won’t. But – you know, I think it’s important that the fans are happy.
QUESTION: Do you think there’s a message in which Dave learn something through his experience?
MATTHEW VAUGHAN: He does. What Dave learns is, he learns that – it goes on a big journey. At the beginning of the movie, he says, “Why does nobody help people?” Then he falls in love with someone, so he stops helping people. And then he starts helping people. And he realizes that the reason it stops most people from helping people in danger is that they’ve got to lose. And he realizes that a real hero is someone who – even with something to lose, still does – takes a risk.
QUESTION: Do you think this film could inspire any copy cats?
MATTHEW VAUGHAN: I hope not. But at the same time, I know there already have been copy cats from the comic already. So, the comic has inspired copy cats, not the film.
QUESTION: Isn’t the point that he gets beat up, and it doesn’t work?
MATTHEW VAUGHAN: He has the shit kicked out of him. But there might be some moron out there who thinks that’s a good idea.
QUESTION: Do you see this as part of a franchise?
MATTHEW VAUGHAN: Yeah. If the film works well, there’s a sequel that I definitely want to do.
QUESTION: And this is one of the rare occasions where a movie at Comic-Con has not had distribution.
MATTHEW VAUGHAN: Listen. If they would buy it because of the reaction, then I’ll have a deal in about 25 minutes. But I doubt that – you know, I don’t know. We’ll see. I mean, the reaction was un— I mean, I sat there at first thinking this is going tobe a Candid Camera moment, where somebody jeers and throws eggs or something. They loved it. I mean, really – you know, they asked to see the clips again. So, it was good.
QUESTION: Do you use a lot of CGI?
MATTHEW VAUGHAN: Little as possible. I hate it. Fucking green screen. It’s like, for me, CGI is for when you really can’t do it in camera. But I’m not that – I don’t know. I use it when I have to, but I just think it’s fake.
QUESTION: What does that do to your schedule, when you’re shooting stuff using cameras and all that?
MATTHEW VAUGHAN: Our schedules are non-existent anyway. So – you know, I’m trained in independent filming. So, I just get – we just shoot and get it done.
QUESTION: Do you have any idea what you’ll do next?
MATTHEW VAUGHAN: No. Have a holiday.
QUESTION: Take a holiday?
MATTHEW VAUGHAN: Yeah.
QUESTION: Are you done with everything?
MATTHEW VAUGHAN: No, no, we’re doing the final mix in the first week of October, and then it’s done.

About the Author:

Paul Fischer I've been an entertainment writer going on for three decades. Born in Australia, I began writing for Australian papers and was the first Australian journalist ever to interview both Woody Allen and Mel Gibson. I moved to Los Angeles at the end of 1999, and apart from my teaching career, have written for Film Monthly and Dark Horizons.
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