Super agent Harry Hart (Colin Firth) finds himself behind enemy lines. He has infiltrated a hateful church community in rural Kentucky, where he is supposed to observe a test run of a broadcasting-signal scheme launched by the evil Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson). Except, the signal affects Harry, leading to one of the most memorable fight sequences we are destined to see on screen this year.
Yet, here’s the funny part. Kingsman: The Secret Service director Matthew Vaughn tells me that Firth almost never made it into the scene in the first place. He almost got cut. Why? We’ll discuss, but will have to use spoilers from Kingsman. You have been warned!
Vaughn jumped on the phone with me prior to Kingsman opening to an impressive $35.6 million over the weekend. The director was unsure if audiences were going to embrace his comically violent spy-spoof thriller… and we talked about his unusual decision to cast the dapper Colin Firth in a role usually reserved for the likes of Daniel Craig or Matt Damon. But Vaughn said he knew that Firth was physically and mentally prepared to tackle the demanding needs of the film’s action – specifically the church sequence – because the director tested his leading man multiple times during the shoot.
The way he explains it, Vaughn says:
I was like… this is a physical role and you’re going to have to train for the next six months. And if you’re not willing to do it, I’m not willing to give you the role. To be blunt, after three months, I’m going to test you. If I think you’re going to pull it off, then you’ve got the role. But if I think you don’t, you’re going to thank me for not casting you, because the worst thing [that] can happen is you look like an idiot doing this stuff in a church. Both of our credibility is gone at that point. So there’s no point in you blindly doing this movie thinking we’re going to pull off the action [and that church fight sequence], because we won’t. And to his credit, he said, ‘I get it. I’m going to train.’ And he trained like you wouldn’t believe. And he pulled it off.
Reading the reactions to the church scene has been interesting this weekend. Many audience members who came back to CinemaBlend for post-screen chatter praised the action choreography of the church fight. Some, however, did admit to being turned off to the violence in the sequence, with several members of the church dying violently at the hands of Firth’s temporarily brainwashed lethal agent. Listen to Colin Firth and Matthew Vaughn discuss the breakdown of the scene in this MTV interview:
What did you think of the scene? Did Firth convince you that he’s a total badass? Or should Matthew Vaughn have gone in a different direction?