Matthew Vaughn on Finding the Man Who Would Be the King’s Man


So began the first stage of this holiday season The king’s man, a cheeky and overtly elegant action flick that is, yes, a prequel to the surprise smash of 2015, Kingsman: The Secret Service, but also a real spy adventure taking place during the First World War. In the new film, main characters Orlando Oxford (Ralph Fiennes) and his son Conrad (Harris Dickinson) interact with real historical figures like the King of England (Tom Hollander), as well as Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the Austrian nobleman whose bizarre assassination in Serbia shockingly started the Great War.

When we chat with Vaughn, he reveals that he never intended to make a Kingsman prequel in 2015. Likewise, the angle of WWI was more or less decided for him by the line dropped in the first picture about the Kingsman organization founded after the war – “I couldn’t say, ‘Know -you what ? “I’m going to change the folklore,” Vaughn laughs. But as he delved into the history around WWI, he was struck by how surprising the details always are.

For example, the scene where (spoiler) Archduke Ferdinand is slaughtered on the streets of Sarajevo really involved a royal crushing the first grenade intended for their car, detonating it under another vehicle in the procession. In The king’s man, it is only Conrad who prevents the first attack against the life of Ferdinand.

They’re little potatoes compared to how a character like Grigori Rasputin is portrayed onscreen. In history, Rasputin was a self-proclaimed holy man from Imperial Russia who managed to capture Tsar Nicholas II’s ear. But on screen, he’s portrayed by Rhys Ifans as a gregarious demon who’ll try to seduce anything on two legs, and when that doesn’t work, he’s content to trigger one of the best fight scenes in years. years.

“I could never find a person like Rasputin,” Vaughn marvels. “What an incredible, incredible character.”

It may be, but it can offer dynamic action for such a person. As with the best sets from Vaughn’s action flick, since Chloe Grace Moretz’s Hit-Girl saving Nicolas Cage in Kick ass to Colin Firth wiping out an entire church full of possessed fanatics in one take during Kingsman– the scene where Fiennes locks the swords with Rasputin’s high kicks is a case study of precise, dizzying choreography and stunts. For his part, Vaughn doesn’t think he’s asking his actors or stuntmen to achieve feats so different from other filmmakers; he just knows how to frame them.