“Kingsman: The Secret Service” was one of the surprise hits of 2015, offering the tired spy genre a breath of fresh air.
So how do you recapture that novelty in the follow-up movie, “Kingsman: The Golden Circle”?
That task falls to Jane Goldman, who co-wrote both Kingsman movies alongside director Matthew Vaughn.
Goldman is a longtime collaborator on many of Vaughn’s hit movies, co-writing everything from “Stardust” to “X-Men: First Class.” She said she consciously avoided trying to do a bigger version of the original. Instead, she opted to do things differently, and teased some “absolutely crazy action that people will be blown away by.”
Goldman, who spoke to me ahead of her appearance on a panel at this year’s, shared her thoughts on finding the “perfect villain” for “Golden Circle,” the kind of tech that terrifies and interests her and the task of resurrecting a fan favorite character.
The following is an edited transcript of our interview.
Q: Kingsman worked so well because it was a surprise. How do you replicate the novelty factor for a sequel?
There’s a certain contract with the audience that they’re expecting something tonally the same. Matthew and I didn’t want to do something shocking for the sake of shock.
We didn’t feel the pressure to go bigger, weirder, but we kind of wound up in that way.
A lot of people say how do you top the church (action set piece)? We made a decision early on that it wasn’t about going more violent or brutal. There’s some absolutely crazy action that people will be blown away by. It’s a different crazy.
Samuel L. Jackson was such an over-the-top villain as Valentine. How do you top that?
Matthew and I both felt that these kinds of movies are only as good as the villain. If we didn’t find a villain we were equally happy with, we might not have done a sequel.
The strongest villains, you can relate to what they’re fighting for, it’s just their methods are questionable.
Julianne Moore is world-class. She’s the perfect Kingsman villain.
In the vein of Valentine, she has that kind of interesting ethos that you can question and discuss after the movie. Some of what she says is spot-on.
She’s a nontypical villain the way Valentine was nontypical.
She’s kind of playful, feminine. A lot of female villains that you see follow a certain pattern, and she’s not that. Julianne brought a hell of a lot to the table.
How do you think about tech as you’re building this world?
We grew up on the, so we love all that. I want to see the cool silly thing. And maybe it’s not useful in life, but it’s what I adore about spy movies. We come from the angle of what we would’ve liked to have seen when we were young.
Poppy (the villain character played by Moore) has a lot of interesting tech that has gone in a direction we haven’t gone in before.
Are you a techie?
I play computer games. Does that count?
One of the things from the movie absolutely came from a video we were showing each other. That was terrifying, let’s put that in.
It was the video that everybody saw of the military robot dog. [A movie teaser in April showed a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it glimpse of a robot attack dog.] I’m so scared of robots.
But that kind of robotic tech I find very, very interesting.
What kind of fantastic tech can you tease?
Some of the fun of the tech is keeping it a surprise. There are gentlemanly Kingsman accoutrements that turn into things again.
What tech from the original film stood out?
The umbrella was fun. Any action scene gag you don’t see coming I always love. They delight.
What is the overarching theme of “Kingsman: The Golden Circle”?
It’s about Eggsy [played by Taron Egerton], now that he’s a spy, reconciling what it means to have a personal life.
James Bond embraces not settling down. But the question that really appealed to me, if you’re a guy who wants a normal life, and you’re close to your mom and like to have a girlfriend and want to marry, how the hell do you reconcile that with being a spy?
That was a journey I was really interested in exploring. It’s not something you’ve seen in spy movies before. You never see anyone struggle with that. You don’t really explore someone trying to have both.
Tell me about the Statesman.
Kingsman are an archetype of the British gentleman, so we felt the American equivalent was the Southern gentleman, so we’ve gone with that Southern vibe.
Is it a new organization?
They are very much a parallel organization to Kingsman with a similar history.
They’re coded by different kinds of liquor? Why?
We came to a decision that their front was the alcohol business, and that came up from the location of Kentucky. It grew out of that.
It just seemed like fun to have names of different kinds of liquor.
Harry was killed in the first movie in an emotionally resonant scene. But he’s back. How do you bring him back without it feeling like a cheat?
We certainly didn’t want to undercut. It’s not without cost; it’s not glib. It’s most certainly addressed with the suitable amount of repercussion and gravitas so it doesn’t cheat the moment.
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