Empire (UK) - - PREMIERE -

EQUELS ARE weird,” sighs Matthew Vaughn ( below). “The au­di­ence wants what you did be­fore, but if you do that, they go: ‘ Well, this is just fuck­ing un­o­rig­i­nal and bor­ing!’ Writ­ing this was the hard­est thing I’ve ever done.”

“This” is Kings­man: The Golden Cir­cle, the fol­low-up to Vaughn’s Kings­man: The Se­cret Ser­vice. One of the sur­prise smashes of last year, the bat­shit-in­sane spy ca­per launched Taron Eger­ton’s ca­reer (see page 92), turned Colin Firth, at 55 years of age, into a bona fide ac­tion hero, and made over $400 mil­lion world­wide. A se­quel was al­ways likely with those num­bers, but Vaughn, who pre­vi­ously passed on di­rect­ing se­quels to Kick-ass and X-men: First Class, was by no means a shoo-in to re­turn.

“I didn’t know if I wanted to di­rect this or not,” says the di­rec­tor, who has given Em­pire ex­clu­sive ac­cess to early con­cept art for the film. “I was wor­ried about the vil­lain. Spy films are only as good as their vil­lains. Then one morn­ing I woke up with the whole sto­ry­line in place, and a new vil­lain plot.”

It’s too early to di­vulge de­tails, but we can re­veal the vil­lain is called Poppy, and will be played by Ju­lianne Moore. When a sur­prise at­tack leaves the Kings­man or­gan­i­sa­tion reel­ing, it’s up to for­mer wide boy Eg­gsy (Eger­ton) and trusty quar­ter­mas­ter Mer­lin (Mark Strong) to take her on, with the help of Amer­i­can coun­ter­parts the States­men.

Headed up by the swag­ger­ing, sharp­shoot­ing cow­boy Jack, and Halle Berry’s Ginger, Vaughn says the in­tro­duc­tion of the Amer­i­can agents will keep the film feel­ing “fresh and unique”.

The re­la­tion­ship be­tween Jack and Eg­gsy may also fill the void cre­ated by the ab­sence of Firth’s Harry Hart, who was bumped off to­wards the end of the first movie. Vaughn says that Firth may show up for an “Obi-wan Kenobi”-style cameo in flash­backs, but don’t ex­pect a mirac­u­lous re­cov­ery. “I think the world would like to see Colin again,” he says, “but sadly we’re not a sci-fi movie.”

The first film wasn’t sci-fi, but it was a Bond movie’s naughty cousin. There was swear­ing. There was a very con­tro­ver­sial anal sex joke. And there was ex­tra­or­di­nary über-vi­o­lence, most no­tably the se­quence where Firth sin­gle-hand­edly wiped out a church con­gre­ga­tion.

“You try not to read what peo­ple want, but they do want an­other church se­quence,” says Vaughn. “I have no rea­son for a mas­sacre to hap­pen. But I have other se­quences you’ve never seen be­fore.”

It’s all very early doors, but Vaughn has plans for an epic ski­ing se­quence, and the mother of all bar­room brawls. “There’s an op­por­tu­nity to make it big­ger and fun­nier and cra­zier,” says Vaughn. Which trans­lates as ro­bot dogs, one-armed hench­men and good guys be­ing at­tacked with “a mas­sive fuck­ing frank­furter”. Long live the Kings­men. CHRIS HEWITT


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