Matthew Vaughn is the British producer who made Guy Ritchie’s first few movies, then became a director with Layer Cake and Stardust. He really wanted his comic book movie Kick-Ass to be all American, but he ended up going with a British lead, Aaron Johnson.
Matthew Vaughn Directs a Kick-Ass Movie
“Well, English director, Scottish writer, I was worried we’d do like a Mary Poppins and do a Dick Van Dyke version of an American kid,” Vaughn said in a press conference at the South by Southwest film festival. “I just felt I needed an American to help me make sure because I’m not a teenage writer. I wanted a teenage American boy but we couldn’t find one. It sounds crazy. 500 kids auditioned but I think a lot of the kids wanted to be famous and they weren’t interested in having any acting technique.”
So Aaron Johnson plays the American teen who decides to become a costumed crime fighter. Everything about making Kick-Ass was unorthodox. “All the studios said no. It’s a totally independent film because we couldn’t get any, should we say, the more safe places to finance the movie. The studios were intrigued by it, said we’d do it if you get rid of Hit Girl, make it PG-13. Luckily, I made a lot of independent films before I did studio movies, so I raised the money.”
There’s plenty of comic book action, and graphic violence and overt profanity in Kick-Ass. Yet, it’s really about the motivation to help people, and what makes that difficult. “When [comic book creator] Mark [Millar] first saw the film, his comment was, ‘You’ve kind of made a chick flick out of this film.’ I think he meant that. I think the difference between us is he’s Scottish so he’s a bit colder.”
The action was intense, and Vaughn made sure it was all consistent. “I had a second unit director called Tim Maurice-Jones. He was the DP on Snatch and we worked together on about three or four films and some commercials. I’ve worked with a lot of second unit directors and to be frank, they’re sort of pretty useless in the sense that they know how to blow things up, but it’s just boring and they don’t seem to care if it fits into the movie or not and they’re all wannabe directors instead of if you’re the second unit director, do as you’re told. Don’t try and do something that’s not the director’s vision. I’m sounding like a total megalomaniac but it’s the truth. Then we had a fight coordinator called Brad Allen who helped. He’s a really clever fight guy.”