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Being Harry Hart aka Galahad: A Conversation with COLIN FIRTH

Kingsman: The Secret Service

KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE is this year’s most exciting espionage thriller and centres on a teenage hoodlum, whose life takes an unexpected turn when he’s recruited to join a spy organisation by a veteran secret agent. Colin Firth is the suave super spy Harry Hart, who takes a tearaway teen known as Eggsy, played by Taron Egerton, under his wing in the hopes that he will ultimately pass muster in an elite spy agency. Meanwhile, a global threat emerges from a twisted tech genius, Richmond Valentine, played by Samuel L. Jackson, which the agency must try and thwart.

Acting legend Colin Firth tells us about crafting his character, approaching the incredible action sequence in the Church and the training he went through for the film…



Tell us about your character, “Harry Hart”
We don’t know much about Harry Hart; he’s a bit of a mystery. He’s a spy and you know we first meet him he appears to be a tailor. The whole cover is the gentlemen’s tailors, but really he’s part of a secret organization who are there for the good of the world. And you know they have extraordinary skills, a rigorous, beyond a rigorous training program, and an extraordinary embarrassment in terms of gadgets and that sort of thing.


Can you tell us about the inspiration for creating the character…
Matthew’s preference was always David Niven, and I think he might of mentioned David Niven when he and I fist met a year and a half I think before we started shooting, saying that he wanted to revert to a kind of original Ian Fleming notion of a rather traditional gentleman spy, where the, it’s not so much to do with overt machismo, but more to do with grace and also the unexpected. One of the reasons he was interested in me was because I was precisely the last person you would ever imagine being able to do any of this, and that’s part of the fun he has, because he loves to subvert people’s expectations. You know because if he had said to me, you know I want to hire you for your innate butchness, it might have been a very short conversation. But I was interested in the way he lied to flip things. And then that’s why he wanted me to do as much of the stunt work as I could myself in order to sell it the skeptics.



Tell us about your training for the film…
It was pretty rough at the beginning. I didn’t know what I was in for and they didn’t know what they were in for either, because these guys all have incredibly advanced skills obviously, they are the best in their field. That’s gymnastic, Thai Boxing, Kung Fu, Tai Kwan Do, and I’m just you know a guy who tries to maintain himself a little bit. And I think you know we were all a little bit, you know there was this kind of feeling each other out because how much are they judging me for being crap, and not having a clue about what they do. And I think they wondered whether, well, how much ability I would have. You know they knew what my age was, I have no real history of athleticism. But also just whether I would be up for it, because obviously if they’ve worked with actors before there will be some people who are very athletic and who have warmed up to the stuff very quickly, and there will be other people who just don’t want to do it. You know, there’s some people there’s a terrible unwillingness to just hold themselves in there. So I wanted to make sure I knew I could take that box at least, you know whatever I didn’t have in skill or experience at least I could make up for in punctuality and a willing spirit. So I made sure I delivered on that. And I think that reassured people and started to earn their trust. And once they, I think they gave me points for effort and willingness, which helped us get going. So, I mean it started with let’s see if we can get this lower body animated. You know oil some of the hinges and do some squats and lunges and agonizing things, which I just don’t think anybody in the world wants to do. And just to articulate things. You know I, because we didn’t have the choreography for months. That was quite late. That had to be devised and it was devised very imaginatively and it’s one of the virtues of the film is the choreography, it’s extraordinary. But that, I had that abut three weeks before we started. In the meantime it was months and months and months of doing the kinds of moves that I was going to have to do just to make sure I was capable of doing them And if you do that, and if you’ve got a team like that, and if you persist and are willing to take a bit of pain, inevitably some progress will be made. So I went from this place of feeling entirely out of my depth, to getting really quite exhilarated to the point where I thought, “This is what I want to do.” You know because we did most of the stunts quite early in the film and I did everything. You know, there were a couple of things that the insurance said, “No there’s a rig involved and it’s life threatening and he’s not allowed to.” And you know so, there’s probably a sort of one percent where somebody had to be sort of be there because I was elsewhere or something. But I basically went through all the paces that I was asked to go to through and just felt this sense of achievement at something I had never done before. And actually I have to confess, going back to doing the routine acting scenes, were a bit of a comedown. You know I just thought, after everything I’ve done, you can just send my suit into work and have exactly the same effect. You know, I’m just pointing at people.


Tell us about the process of filming the church scene…
Well that’s where the choreography had to be studied and learned. And even for the guys with incredible skill, there was still an feat of memory involved, because you learn, you’ve got these dance moves, it’s a dance really, but they have to be remembered, because if they’re not remembered not only does the sequence fall apart, because everyone has to know it. I mean most of the time, wherever I was, I had about five opponents, plus the camera operator who is one of the dancers. Because he has to be, probably more than anybody else, in the right place, and he’s got this thing and he’s got his frame, and he has to have somebody guiding him so he doesn’t get thumped by something by something or someone. And that has to go perfectly, or as I said the sequence is not going to work, or that’s when you get injured. When someone’s on their left foot instead of their right, I mean even when you’re dancing conventionally that can be a problem, but we were also working with heavy objects, and you know all kinds of bizarre props that were being used in that sequence. You know guns being just one of them, but, no most of the bruises and mishaps were as a result of imprecision. So you learn this thing, had to remember it, and then you had to get it at the right speed. And one of the things that was actually sort of, you know educational if you like about the rules of this, was that, and I should have known this as an actor, but it was extraordinary to realize how important it was, was that it’s not just about speed, it is about, you have to act it as well. It’s al about intention and the rhythm has to make sense story wise. So if you just learn it very, very fast, it will look mechanical and it will actually loose energy because of that. It doesn’t matter. You know we’ve all seen fast action sequences, which are boring as anything. And what Brad Allen, who was are, in charge of the whole thing, he was intent on was no, if we don’t see the intention behind it when we move, it’s not going to be interesting. It’s not going to be powerful; it’s not going to have any energy. So you, if your arm goes that way it’s because you want it to do something. And if you are blocking someone coming from that way, you have to see it first and it’s whether you are, I don’t know, are you anxious about that one? Are you vicious towards that one? You know what’s going on had to be built in as a part of it. And that’s actually what made it so alive. And it’s not just, you know you said earlier, if you can say it’s me, sure, but you can actually see it’s humans largely in full frame doing the work It’s not dependent on camera cast.



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