If there are two descriptions of Aaron Taylor-Johnson that spring to mind when looking back over our recent interview with the Kick-Ass 2 star, they are charisma, and sweary – as an actor who has this effervescent charm about his demeanour, plus he swears. A lot. Though not filmed on this occasion, we’re certain both aspects will come across, as we sat down to discuss all things superhero with the talented British star.
Revisiting the title role once more, Taylor-Johnson teams up with Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Chloë Grace Moretz to star in Jeff Wadlow’s sequel to the much loved original in 2010. The actor discusses his reasons for wanting to get back involved in the project, he explains why his character wears a “I hate reboots” t-shirt, and he also discusses Jim Carrey’s decision to distance himself from the production given its violent tendencies. Oh, and he also speaks about a potential part in the forthcoming Avengers endeavour. Also did we mention he swears a lot?
How was the experience playing the role of Kick-Ass once again?
The thing to remember is that it was so long between the two films that our options actually ran out. None of us had to legally to do a sequel, which is great to know, because you can get forced into a three picture deal and you might think, that was shit and I hated working with those people and now I’ve got to do it again with no choice in the matter – but in this circumstance, it just grew over time and when the options went it looked like we definitely weren’t making a sequel, and then out of the blue Jeff wrote this screenplay and Matthew told me to take a read, because Jeff really understands where these characters should be going. He told me to take a look at it and not to worry if I didn’t want to make it – but it was a page turner and it was funny and it was emotional, and I loved where he took Chris’s character, because that’s something I wanted to see Chris as an actor do – because he hasn’t even been given the chance to be challenged like this in his career, but he delivers. Also to see Chloë having to physically deal with high school and I wanted to see those characters the way Jeff did, and so we all agreed and we all stepped on. It grew to a place where people were really anticipating a sequel and it felt like a nice position to be in – we’re making something that people are happy about, rather than, nowadays with sequels out before I’ve even seen the first on DVD and I’m not interested because it hasn’t been long enough to make me care. In our circumstance, four years have past… and my character, evidently, was the same old Dave and didn’t know where or what he wanted to do with his life which is interesting, but it was a challenge because it was hard to go back to that character I created four years ago and be happy with that.
In the film you wear a t-shirt that says, “I hate reboots” – is that true?
[Laughs] It was from the character’s perspective. It was shot at a reshoot months later, and originally I wanted a superhero t-shirt but they couldn’t get clearance because everything is either Marvel or DC so we couldn’t, plus every time I was in pants I wanted The Hulk on my underwear, or Ka-Pow on my arse or something, because he is the kind of guy who wears Spiderman pyjamas. But again, we couldn’t get clearance on that stuff, which was annoying, so we wondered where else we could go with this, and I wanted something that was like a “I am not a robot” t-shirt, but decided on reboot instead, because everything nowadays is. They made it like two days before we shot, and they found a crazy yellow shirt and it said “I hate reboots” and I thought, yeah that’s cool and funny, but at that point I was already signed on to do Godzilla which is essentially a reboot, but you know, it’s where you can take the piss out of yourself.
Geek culture has become quite cool in the past couple of years, and you even see shirts with the word “GEEK” written across them – did the change in status for the culture affect your performance at all, did you approach it with more swagger perhaps?
Yeah, you know, people are really opinionated nowadays and they wanna be seen as being opinionated, so they twitter or whatever and they wear t-shirts that have 011011 on it, which means like “fuck you” in computer language or something. But do I think I added swagger to him? No. The point is, he hasn’t got any swagger. Also, in the comic book my character has blonde hair and right at the beginning I said to Matthew when he cast me, “I want blonde hair” and he said “no”. So I said, “but the character has blonde hair…” and he said “remember Alexander with Colin Farrell? Exactly”. But we tried it, and it didn’t, but anyway, I still wish we kind of went there, especially because in Anna Karenina I was blonde, which was funny because I was playing a Russian – and I’m from Russian descent – but I was confused, but it was Joe Wright’s way of seeing it and his vision, so that’s fine. But then when the make-up artist changed the colour it looked amazing and real, so I know it’s possible. But anyway, that’s besides the points – I look at the character and wish I did something different, like maybe doing a New Jersey accent. I’m such a perfectionist that I wish I put ticks in and stuff like this, and I watched these superhero documentaries and these guys have mannerisms and interesting quirks to them and I thought I could try adding them to the character, so I did, and I imitated them more and did impersonations – but then Jeff was like, that’s funny but it’s just not Dave, and people will watch this and think, who the fuck is that? Why has he started doing that? And Jeff was right, I just had to deal with the fact that whatever I did first has to be consistent. But right at the beginning I didn’t want him to have any swagger or anything, but being a geek was cool. I remember when Superbad came out and having Chris around me was amazing and the guys who have been in the Judd Apatow stuff, because when you had Superbad and Juno coming out, it was like two lead characters who were the quirky kid, the awkward nerd, or whatever, so yeah geek has become cool.
How was it working alongside Jim Carrey?
It was brilliant, he just has such incredible energy that is so raw you get high off of it. He brings so many ideas and enthusiasm to the table and he’s just genuine and generous and we just improvised and played around and he’d keep you on your toes and did this amazing thing, cos he has prosthetics for his face to look like the character from the comic book, and that’s just how he is – really passionate. I admire that, and it’s how I like to think about characters… except I haven’t got the same power, if I was blonde hair it doesn’t happen! Hopefully if I can ever get into a position like that it would be amazing, because he can give himself a big crooked nose and dye his hair and put in some teeth and do an accent and whatever it is, it’s all about making big bold decisions and choices and yeah I admire that.
Is there a feeling of disappointment amongst the cast that he has kept himself at arms length from this feature?
No-one feels disappointed at all, because we all know what it was like working with him. Personally, how I take a job on is always about the character and who you’re working with, because really to me the actors and the experience is what I’m getting out of it for three months. You know, however it does in the movies or how people see it is for them and their enjoyment, but it doesn’t do anything for me, because my experience is the process of making it, that’s what I like doing, the more creative and artistic side. It’s great to see the finished product and be pleased with it – that’s always a bonus – but the fact he wasn’t around…. I mean, he’s entitled to his opinion and at the end of the day, I guess people want to discuss whether it’s drawing more violence to kids and stuff, but the fact is, we’re dealing with that issue in the film, saying that the consequences are strong, you know, my character gets close to losing everyone around him that he loves because of what’s he’s doing so he needs to be responsible for his actions and the consequences that come with it, you know, if you go looking for trouble you’re going to find it. I keep saying, in the real world you can’t do this sort of shit, and also people who saw the first one or read the comic book are expecting it to have that comic book violence and extreme shock factor. The first film put the benchmark real high, so it had to be ramped up, even if it does take a darker slant, it keeps within the same tone. It’s a hard one, but it was all there in the beginning, it was all there in the comic book – which is actually really disturbing, with like rape and all sorts of shit, which isn’t in the movie cos no-one wants to see that. You can convey emotion and anger in different ways.
You’re rumoured to be playing Quicksilver in Avengers: Age of Ultron – can you confirm that?
No, it’s not 100% yet, it’s not official. You’ve got to remember that they start filming next year in February or March or something like that so we’re still a long way away. It’s all in discussion and in a friendly way as well, you know, I’ve met with Joss Whedon now twice and we spoke about it a lot and I’ve been with the Marvel guys and they’re fucking awesome dudes, so I am flattered to be asked to be a part of The Avengers, who wouldn’t? But more importantly to me, I have to know if I can convey that character in the right way because that’s what it comes down to. So that’s all for now really, they still have loads of other characters and actors to make sure they can schedule and stuff.
So you’d want to do it?
I’d fucking love to do it.
Kick-Ass 2 is out on August 14th and you can read our review here.