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Gemma Arterton’s Huge King’s Man Shootout Was Extremely Messy, But Surprisingly Sweet

If you’re going to make a mess on a set like co-writer/director Matthew Vaughn’s The King’s Man, there had better be a good reason to do so. The first prequel in the Kingsman Cinematic Universe definitely has some good excuses to get dirty, as World War I has broken out and the world needs saving. Along for the ride is actor Gemma Arterton, whose career in espionage cinema is about to get a boost thanks to an impressive set-piece for her character Polly. As it turns out, her huge King’s Man shootout was extremely messy, but surprisingly sweet; so much so that it helped the process of shooting the epic explosion of cheese and bullets. 

As shown in the marketing for Vaughn’s latest entry into this ever growing cinematic world of spies, Ms. Arterton’s character is an expert marksman who isn’t afraid to clean up after the messy boys she runs with out in the field. Sometimes that leads to one hell of a mess, and a climactic third act showdown has Polly taking out her foes from the cover of a shack storing wheels of cheese. Hailing bullets aren’t the only distraction, as those dairy parcels all messily explode when struck by the numerous rounds heading her way. Thankfully, as Gemma Arterton told CinemaBlend on behalf of The King’s Man press day, it wasn’t actually cheese she was filming with: 

The cheese was actually custard, and we did it one time. We thought, ‘We’ve got one chance at this,’ because the whole cabin, they had set up these rigs with all this custard. And we knew that once we did it, there was no reset, because of the mess. … Thank god it was not actually cheese, because that would have been more than I could handle. At least it was a nice little sweet ambrosia, Devonshire custard.

One take of high intensity “cheese” explosions is certainly enough, especially when it yields the results that are seen in The King’s Man’s trailers and commercials. The scene itself is even more exciting, as Gemma Arterton’s Polly really does clean up the field of battle with her sharpshooting prowess. Much like her fictional counterpart, Arterton only needed one shot to get the job done. Or at least, that’s what she initially thought.

After all of that “one take, because of the mess” business, some time had passed during the production of the film, and it was business as usual for Gemma. Polly continued to break codes, take some well earned shots and even tangled with Rasputin (Rhys Ifans), just as the film required. But then, as Ms. Arterton discussed below, Matthew Vaughn came back with a special request to send her back to custard-soaked hell: 

We did it, I got covered in ‘cheese,’ and then a few weeks later Matthew [Vaughn] said, ‘Oh, we didn’t…I don’t think there was enough cheese.’ So we had to redo it, and I was like ‘Are you joking me?’ I remember saying to Matthew, ‘Are you really being serious? You just want to put custard on me again, just for fun, don’t you?’ Which, I sort of think was probably true. But yeah, it was actually quite fun, and the crew were all loving doing it.

It may not have been as hellish as one would expect, as Gemma Arterton’s claims of having fun are easily verified by how she tells this story. Not to mention that The King’s Man definitely benefits from the veteran of such films as Quantum of Solace getting to make her own heroic quips and kills in the field. Still, you could imagine what her face must have looked like upon first getting the call to step back into the shack, custard explosions and all. Though it is hard to be mad when the results look like the material shared in this clip dedicated to Polly “the Marksman”: 

The holidays are known for what feels like an explosion of sweet treats for all to enjoy at every turn. It’s only more fitting that Matthew Vaughn and Gemma Arterton got to create a huge scene in The King’s Man that symbolizes that very truth, and in a movie that does take place around the holiday season. Thanks to such memorable tactics, Polly and the rest of the nascent Kingsman organization are hoping to land a powerful blow; both on the battlefield and at a theater near you

You can judge for yourself how successful those efforts are, as the movie is set to open tonight in early showings, ahead of its full debut on December 22. Just don’t forget to bring your sweet tooth.

Mike Reyes

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.