Mark Strong On His Kick-Ass Character and How Violent It Will Be
by Alex Billington
November 6, 2008
There hasn't been a big Kick-Ass update in a while, which is a bit unfortunate considering how excited I am. So I thought I'd break the silence and bring you an update on the production. Last week we talked with actor Mark Strong, one of the finest English actors currently working. He just finished up roles in Body of Lies and RocknRolla and in addition to playing the villain in Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes (more on that in the future), he's playing the head villain in Matthew Vaughn's Kick-Ass. Not only does he give us a full breakdown of his character, who hasn't showed up in the comics yet, but reveals some interest details surrounding the production, including that it wasn't really the excessive violence that studios disliked.
Strong plays a character named Frank D'Amico, described as "a New York gangster, quite a nasty piece of work. He's a fixer, a drug dealer. And his world starts to fall apart when he realizes that his organization is being brought to its knees by what appear to be teenage superheroes." He continues on about the character's arc throughout the film: "So he's got this dilemma of realizing that his organization is falling apart and he can't quite work out why. So the film starts with him basically questioning one his guys, who he believes has taken his money or his drugs. And that scene is the most together you ever see him, and then over the course of the film, he basically falls apart. He starts to basically lose his mind."
"I've been shouting a lot, snorting a lot of coke, drinking a lot of whiskey, and threatening people with guns," he adds. We all know that the movie is based on Mark Millar's comic, but there are only four issues currently out on shelves at the moment, and none of them have really focused on D'Amico yet. However, Strong reveals that the plan is to finish each series off with a total of eight issues and that they're hoping to have three series. That's great to hear considering I loved the first four and was already anxious to see where they'd take the story next. Millar's Wanted only lasted one full series and he never continued it any further. Unlike Wanted, however, Kick-Ass is a direct adaptation of the comic without any major changes.
Getting back to the gritty side of things, back in August we reported that Matthew Vaughn was having trouble negotiating with Hollywood studios because the script was apparently way too violent for any of them to get into. He subsequently funded the entire production, rumored to have a budget upwards of $70 million, on his own. However, Strong, who has already been shooting the film with Vaughn, says he had a conversation with him that disproved those claims and somewhat clarified the whole situation.
"I'm not sure how true that is, in actual fact. Because I did mention that to Matthew. I said, 'What is the demographic for this movie? What age group and everything? Because if it's obviously as violent as the comics are, don't you lose your audience?'"
"I said, 'Isn't that the problem, that the studios all felt it was too violent?' He said, 'Well, if you choose to believe what you read on the internet, yes. But that wasn't actually the case.' He seemed to imply that it was just something that he wanted to do. And because he financed basically Lock, Stock and Snatch himself, he also financed Layer Cake himself. Stardust was a departure, in that Paramount was the distributor who also put money into it. But he still raised some of the money himself. He's just one of those guys who -- he has backers. But I think he likes having control over the movies that he makes. So he looked at Kick-Ass, loved the idea of it, and basically didn't particularly want anybody else to get involved. 'I'll make the film, and I'll make the film that I want to make. And then if other people like it, they can pick it up and distribute it.' I think that's close to the truth."
So does that mean it won't be as violent as originally thought? "Oh no, it's pretty violent," Strong says. "I just saw today the sequence at the end where Hit Girl comes in and takes out basically Frank and his goons, his nasty army. And it's one of the most incredible things I've ever seen. And this is just the set up that the stunt guys and the fight arrangers have filmed. And it's absolutely astonishing. It's going to be incredibly cool." That definitely sounds like it should be pretty awesome. The violence in the comic includes an 11-year-old girl slicing bodies open and cutting heads in half with her ninja swords. I expect the violence in this to be at an acceptable R rated level, but not gory enough to be classified as horror.
While we've seen plenty of on set photos from the film, nothing official has been released just yet. We'll be anxiously awaiting any other big news we hear on this and will be sure to bring you any other cool photos we find, whether they're official or not. Mark Strong's character sounds like one hell of a nasty guy and I can't wait to see him both in the comics and in the movie once it's finished up - so stay tuned!