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Manners maketh man — and villains maketh movie.
In this sequel to 2015’s action hit Kingsman: The Secret Service, superspies Taron Egerton and Colin Firth (he’s alive!) face off against Oscar winner Julianne Moore. Also joining the cast are Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, and Jeff Bridges (who all play members of an American spy outfit called the Statesman), but as with the 007 flicks, it’s the bad that beckons us.
“The best villains have plotlines which would actually seem like half-decent ideas, if they weren’t so crazy,” says returning director Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class). “They have a plan to completely f— up the world but their motives are not totally ridiculous.
In the first film in Vaughn’s planned trilogy, Samuel L. Jackson played an American businessman named Richmond Valentine, whose agenda including stopping global warming in its tracks…by culling billions of people in the world population. “For this film, I needed a performer who could fill the shoes of Sam Jackson without any sense of intimidation,” Vaughn says. “And someone who could make this character pretty insane but at the same time real. And though Kingsman is hopefully a big popcorn film, I love to put fantastic, brilliant, Oscar-winning talent like Julianne Moore into crazy environments. That’s when we get magic happening.”
Vaughn describes Moore’s character as “Martha Stewart on crack,” a ruthless entrepreneur who operates from a re-created 1950s Main Street in the deep jungle (below). For the look of this ludicrous village, the director took his cues from Cambodia’s Angkor Wat ruins and the false, nostalgic version of kitschy family values represented by Grease and Happy Days. “It’s her beloved Americana that she would like to bring back again,” Vaughn says. And her name — Poppy — hints at her industry.
“She’s taken over the global drug business and wants to be on the Forbes list,” says Vaughn. The film’s subtitle The Golden Circle is a reference to Asia’s opium-producing Golden Triangle — though Vaughn admits that fact required a bit of explaining. “When we tested the movie with an audience, everybody was like, ‘What’s the Golden Triangle?’ I was like, ‘For f—‘s sake.’ No one had heard of it in three test screenings.”
But Poppy’s mission remains the same. Vaughn explains, “She has a speech where she goes, ‘Sugar is 10 times more addictive than cocaine. It causes more death and misery in America. Yet one is legal. Peddle that s— and you’re in the Forbes 500. Peddle coke and you’re in jail. What the f—!’ So the points she’s making are not insane.”
Though, he adds, “her solutions definitely are.”
Kingsman: The Golden Circle arrives Sept. 22.