This week marks the long-awaited release of Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman: The Golden Circle, the follow-up to 2014’s massive blockbuster which grossed over $400million at the worldwide box office.

The sequel is even bigger than the first and sees Taron Edgerton (Eggsy), Colin Firth (Harry) and Mark Strong (Merlin) joined by a host of eclectic talents including Julianne Moore, Jeff Bridges, Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, Elton John as the Kingsman go Stateside for their latest mission. We sat down with the film’s director to chat about the eagerly-anticipated film.

After the huge success of the first film, a sequel was inevitable but Vaughn said that it was no easy feat to pull the film off, saying it’s a hard thing to pull-off as so many others have failed. He said:

“It’s very hard to be original twice and sequels are something of a horrible dance – you want to give people loved about the first film but you can’t give them too much of it or they’ll think you’re just remaking the same thing again. A sequel has to have a reason for being made, there has to be a continuation of the story, continuation of the arcs of the characters and a focus for making a good film and not just cashing in.”

After agreeing to the sequel, Vaughn went back and watched as many sequels as he could, both successful ones and the less successful with The Dark Knight and two other successful sequels being used as “blueprints” to help avoid those second-film-pitfuls. He said:

“I watched so many sequels again! Good ones and bad ones just thinking ‘Well did they do to make it work?’ The Godfather Part II is a masterclass on how to do it because you get more about the characters with De Niro’s stuff but you’re also seeing Pacino going on with his journey and I nearly borrowed some of that with lots of flashbacks to Kingsman, how it was founded and stuff but there wasn’t enough screen time. And The Empire Strikes Back is just such a great bridge of just the world expanding but contracting at the same time and you really get to know those characters more.”

While Vaughn was busy putting the touches to the film in terms of its story, action and narrative, he has been blessed with a stunning cast to help lead the charge. And the director says its casting that is where he shines most – indeed, after giving us James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender as Professor X and Magneto in X-Men: First Class, he has continued to showcase he eyes for talent in his subsequent films, saying:

“Casting, with sounding too arrogant, is one of my strengths as a director. I find it weird that people say ‘Well, god, you’re brilliant at casting, how do you do it?’ I just say ‘Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it? They come in, like Taron did when he read it (the first film) and said ‘That’s Eggsy’ and some said ‘Yeah but he’s unknown’ and I said I didn’t care, that’s Eggsy and he’s gonna play Eggsy! Same with Aaron Johnson – he came in, knocked it out the park and everyone said ‘How do you know?’ and i said ‘Well, wasn’t that amazing to watch him say the lines?’ and wouldn’t it be good to have that person than forcing me to have Taylor Lautner or someone just because they’re a bigger name but weren’t right for the role?”

“It’s harder to cast bigger actors because you don’t get them to screen test so you’re hoping they’re right and it’s weird thing when they come on set the first day – there are examples where movie stars have been miscast and it’s because they don’t read.”

You can watch the full interview with Vaughn below.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle opens on September 20th.