'Kingsman' Star Taron Egerton on Cyclops, 'Star Wars,' and A-List Mentors (EXCLUSIVE)
In this weekend's deliriously entertaining spy movie send-up/celebration "Kingsman: The Secret Service," Colin Firth plays a seasoned veteran working for a private agency who goes out of his way to recruit Eggsy, the son of a former colleague who is more rough-around-the-edges street tough than gentleman spy. Part of the fun of the movie is watching the way that Eggsy transforms, turning into a refined young man like, to use a reference point of the film, "My Fair Lady" (except with, you know, explicit violence) and in turn watching the young actor, Taron Egerton, bloom into a full-fledged movie star.
Egerton is absolutely amazing in the movie, and the fact that he's a relative unknown actually adds suspense to the proceedings, since you're not entirely sure if he'll make it through the training process and actually become a secret agent. And Hollywood seems to agree: even before "Kingsman: The Secret Service" had been released, Egerton's name was being floated for the next "X-Men" movie in the role of a young Cyclops.
Chatting with Egerton recently, we quizzed him about how he became involved in "Kingsman: The Secret Service," whether or not he knew he nailed the audition (director Matthew Vaughn said that he auditioned hundreds of young actors), how much truth there was to those "X-Men" rumors, and whether or not he's excited about the possibility of further "Kingsman" adventures.
Moviefone: How did you initially become involved?
Taron Egerton: I just got an audition from my agent and went along and did the audition. It's probably the biggest audition I had done in my short career but it was very, very run of the mill.
Did you have a feeling that you had nailed the audition? When did you know the part was yours?
I guess I felt that it was highly, highly unlikely that they would cast someone so unknown in this role. But it was a very special set of circumstances where Matthew financed the movie himself so he was able to cast who he wanted, which is pretty unusual for a film of this scale. I never thought it was a foregone conclusion, ever, throughout the whole audition process. I knew that Matthew liked my audition but I was never more certain than that.
What drew you to the material? Were you a fan of Mark Millar's comic book?
I read the script before I read the comic, so it was the script. The script had a very Matthew Vaughn quality -- very provocative and mischievous and anarchic. It just jumped off the page. It was very visual in the way it was written; it had these enormous set pieces and these great characters and it was very, very funny. There was a multitude of reasons that I was drawn to it.
As a young actor what was it like to get to work with these luminaries like Colin Firth, Mark Strong, and Samuel L. Jackson?
It was really good. It was every bit as wonderful as you'd expect. It's a great thrill to find yourself in a scene opposite someone you have admired for so many years. They are so, so good. It was amazing, actually, especially to have so many of them in one film.
What about shooting the action sequences? Was that something that you were excited about getting to do?
It was not a career that I ever envisioned for myself but I absolutely loved getting the chance to do it. It's very demanding and time-consuming making those scenes and the preparation is also enormous for those scenes due to the choreography you have to learn and the level of physical fitness you have to achieve in order to be able to do them. But it's really rewarding, especially to watch them back and see all of that work coupled with all of the brilliant editing and the cool comic book special effects are in there. They're so much fun to watch. I'm really proud of them.
Were you a huge fan of spy movies before this?
As much as anyone. It's a hugely popular genre so I'm as familiar as anyone else, really. I grew up with Bond.
This is very much designed to be a franchise. Was that something that excited you -- the idea of taking this character through an entire arc?
Yeah, absolutely. I think there's a really great story to be told and there are some brilliant directors out there but I would be most excited if I thought Matthew was going to do it again. I think it's really his baby, it feels very him. I can't imagine anyone else doing it.
Have you talked to him at all?
Absolutely. It's by no means a foregone conclusion, it all depends on how it does at the box office. Yes, we've discussed ideas and obviously it's not something I can talk about but I know Matthew has talked a little bit about it in some interviews. But it's not my place to divulge any plot stuff. We've got an idea and it's very, very cool but it's really just a skeleton of an idea.
People have to show up first.
Yes, people have to show up first. None of this "Fifty Shades of Grey."
A few weeks ago you had been linked to playing Cyclops in "X-Men: Apocalypse." How true were those reports?
There were talks about it, but I never made it to the audition stages. They were very loose conversations. But they have found a brilliant young actor to do it. I actually think he's better suited to it. He's a lot younger than I am. I think with what they're hoping to go with, that he's a better choice.
Is there another big franchise you'd want to be a part of?
Bloody hell, if someone came around and said, "Do you want to play a part in 'Star Wars'?", then I think anyone would sit up and listen. But committing to a franchise is an enormous, enormous undertaking, and I've got one on my hands potentially. I want diversity from my career and I'm not sure... I don't know. I think I might pursue something a little less expected next. I think that's what people expect me to do now and that suggests to me that I probably shouldn't do it. Because that's boring, isn't it? I want to surprise people and do different things and maybe do something that's not quite financially rewarding.
So what's next for you then?
I'm doing a movie with Hugh Jackman that Matthew is producing called "Eddie the Eagle." It's about a very bad Olympic ski jumper in 1988. I'm looking forward to that. It should be fun. It'll be a comedy/drama and Jackman plays my coach.
Going from Colin Firth to Hugh Jackman isn't bad.
I've decided that now I only make films where I have A-listers as my mentors.
"Kingsman: The Secret Service" is in theaters now.