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Among other virtues, 2015’s Kingsman: The Secret Service clicked with audiences thanks to the rapport of delinquent-turned-debonair spy Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and his mentor Harry (Colin Firth).
Despite Harry’s apparent violent death, the duo reunites in next month’s even more berserk sequel, Kingsman: The Golden Circle. Egerton, 27, and Firth, 56, spoke to EW about their return.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Did you both know that Harry was going to come back for a sequel?
TARON EGERTON: No, I don’t think anybody did.
COLIN FIRTH: [Director Matthew Vaughn] was very clear on the first Kingsman. He said, “Your character dies. And brutally.” There was no bailout clause. But then there began gradual conversations about how we could resurrect him.
What possibilities were discussed?
FIRTH: I’ll say that something which was never discussed was the idea of an evil twin. That’s a cliché. Plus, the purpose wasn’t to get “Colin Firth” back. It was about finding a way back to that relationship between the characters.
EGERTON: Exactly. Eggsy and his Obi-Wan Kenobi-type dad figure. We almost didn’t get enough of that in the first film.
How did your lives change after the first film?
EGERTON: I’d never been in a movie before. My life, from a work perspective, is unrecognizable. The change has been particularly profound.
FIRTH: I remember your first days on the set of Kingsman, telling me how everything was so new, and I said, “This is pretty new to me as well.” There’s something quite strange about me being an action star. I’m only beginning to realize at my age that you shouldn’t ever think you’ve reached cruising altitude. I did not expect to be over 50 and doing a film that was so physically challenging.
EGERTON: I’ve not really spoken about this because it wasn’t something I was very keen to reveal, but it’s in the trailer now. There are moments of us fighting side by side. On the first movie, prior to us actually shooting, there would be one of us walking out of a sweaty gym room, agonized, exhausted, while the other was walking in. One of us going, “Bloody hell, that was rough!” and the other one going, “Well here I go.” I guess the thing that was fun this time was that we walked into the stunt department together. And that was really fun.
FIRTH: You’re absolutely right about that, Taron. I think it’s one of the biggest differences from the first to the second in terms of preparation.
EGERTON: It’s very nice to have you as my partner for that stuff. Because I was never the kid in school who was picked first for the rugby team.
FIRTH: I was the kid in school who was picked last for the rugby team. We are fellow amateurs. But to be thrown in again with these stunt guys who are all world champions athletes — that first month of training was not just painful but emasculating.
Kingman: The Golden Circle has a large group of great actors from the States. Jeff Bridges, Channing Tatum, Halle Berry. How does it touch upon the culture clash?
EGERTON: Aside from the talent that [director] Mathew Vaughn was able to attract, a huge amount of the enjoyment of the movie comes from the introducing to this American sister organization and getting a whole new world to discover. It’s a new present to unwrap.
FIRTH: And because we’d explored the culture clash in the first film, there wasn’t much more fun to be had with that, in terms of the class archetypes. In the first Kingsman, you might remember, Harry is bemoaning archaic values and snobbishness. He’s the sole believer that someone from Eggsy’s background could be just as much of a gentleman. That’s been done. But again, we’re playing with the stereotypes. And just because something’s a stereotype doesn’t mean that you don’t find cases of it. And I think quite often what happens is that when people are quite conscious of their cultural difference they play them up even more. I think youre getting a bit of that game playing here.
EGERTON: You mean most Englishmen don’t walk around in pinstriped suits?
FIRTH: Pinstriped suits and umbrellas, no. And most American aren’t wearing Stetsons and cracking lassos. It’s ramped up for comic effect. But you find it plays out in reality.
In light of the current state of the world, does it comment?
EGERTON: I think Kingsman, for all its cleverness and freshness, employs broad brushstrokes to kind of convey the entertaining story it wants to. I’m a little bit phobic of making any kind of grandiose statement about the world. It’s quite whimsical. But by that token I think it has a message.
FIRTH: True. Hopefully audiences will feel something instinctively. Tribal appearances can be very different and you can end up fighting alongside each other. There is a commonality that’s more important that the differences.
Why does the chemistry between the two of you work so well?
EGERTON: Sometimes there’s just an ease between two people. It creates a level of playfulness that comes through onscreen.
FIRTH: Taron’s not afraid of making fun of me.
EGERTON: Likewise, in reverse. And I think we both instinctively respond to 99 percent of the same ideas. I can feel how Colin will respond to something before I’ve talked to him.
FIRTH: I’ll tell this story carefully so that I don’t name names, but do you remember when we were on the plane coming back from Comic-Con?
EGERTON: [Laughing] Oh, yes!
FIRTH: I was watching a movie and marveling at how bad a certain actor was. I wasn’t bitching, I just found this particular actor’s approach to be so jaw-dropping.
EGERTON: And I was sitting behind you. At the moment you pulled your earphones off and looked at me in disbelief, I could not breathe I was laughing so hard.
FIRTH: So there you have it. A shared sense of taste.