Exclusive Interview: Mark Millar talks Kingsman and future projects!

One of the busiest men in Hollywood just happens to be a comic book writer. Go figure! Mark Millar is the man whose graphic novels WANTED, KICK-ASS 1-2 and KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE - which is just about to arrive on home video - have inspired blockbuster film adaptations. He currently acts as an advisor on all of 20th Century Fox's superhero films (the upcoming FANTASTIC FOUR reboot was overseen by him and inspired by his Ultimate Fantastic Four run), while the Marvel Cinematic Universe regularly relies on Millar's "Ultimates" and Marvel 616 books for ideas and stories, specifically next year's CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVAL WAR. He's also got about seven or eight other books in various stages of development at several different studios, including Starlight, Nemesis, Chrononauts and Kindergarten Heroes (to name a few).

When you talk to him, however, Millar sounds anything but weighed down by his workload. Cheerful, chatty and enthusiastic, Millar appears eager to talk about any and everything comics and/or movie related. Unfortunately, I only had about 15 minutes with him, which seems like a drop in the bucket when you're listening to the Scot. We spoke a bit about the upcoming KINSGMAN Blu-ray (oddly enough, we mostly talked about what's not included on the disc), as well as his collaboration with KICK-ASS/KINGSMAN helmer Matthew Vaughn, his plans for KINGSMAN 2, a potential stand-alone HIT GIRL movie and other projects in development.


Hi Mark! How's it going?

You know, you've got a great name. It sounds like it's from the French Connection or something.

I appreciate that!

I'm going to use it in something, it sounds like a guy who would hang out with Dirty Harry. A 70s cop name, you know?

Please do! So it's been a few months since Kingsman came out, it made $400 million worldwide, that's got to feel good. Could you have imagined it would be so successful?

Up until the movie came out, I was very nervous, I've got to say. There's so many ways this movie could have gone wrong. Just having a good movie is not enough, people have got to be aware of it, there's got to be some anticipation. The day it opened in the UK - which is usually a pretty good indicator of how it was going to go, you know, there's a mathematical formula where you can figure out on the first day how the movie is going to do for the weekend. The first day was disappointing, because there was a lot of snow in the UK, there was a massive snowstorm and half of the country was snowed in. I remember one of my friends who runs a rival studio phones me up and says, "Oh, your movie's not going to do very well." [Laughs] I was like, "Oh, great, thanks!" So Matthew and I were all worried on Friday, but on Saturday it did gangbusters and then we started to relax.

But launching a new franchise is quite a thing, you know; Kick-Ass was only $28 million to make, so when it made $100 million we were opening the champagne. But when you have a $100 million budget, we were like, "This is kind of scary." Because it has to make $200 million to break even, so when it made $400 million I couldn't believe it. There was nobody happier than me. Actually, Matthew was happier than me because he was getting all the money. [Laughs]


The Blu-ray is coming out, what features on it have got you excited? Looks like there's a very intensive documentary on it.

I watched all of it months all ago, actually I think I watched it before the movie came out because all that stuff was made while the movie was being made, and it's really cool, there's literally hours of this stuff. The one thing I wish was on it is, there's a seven minute version of the church fight scene that was in the very first cuts, and it's so intense and so crazy; I don't know if one day they'll make a super extended edition Blu-ray and include that outrageous fight scene as an extra.

I don't even know if people could handle a more outrageous version of that scene.

[Laughs] I couldn't handle it! I live in Glasgow, Scotland, and I see fighting all the time, I'm completely desensitized to fighting, and even I was like, "This is the most disturbing thing I've ever seen." The seven minute version was so intense, and to see Colin do all that was phenomenal.

I know there was a deleted scene featuring a young Michael Caine at one point, what happened with that? Seems like it would have been awesome.

It's weird because Matthew and I watched it and talked about it a lot in the editing suite; it was quite an expensive scene because it had a lot of CGI in it, to make Michael looks younger, he had to look Harry Palmer age Michael Caine. Before the special effects were actually done, the thing I felt really strongly about it was, it killed the movie's progress. It was a cool little scene, and it added a little bit to Arthur's backstory, but it didn't move the movie forward. At the same time, we had all the training sequences with Eggsy, which were kind of not moving the plot forward, it was moving the character development. There was another scene with Colin dressed as a clown [laughs], and it's a great scene, a really great scene, but it killed the movie's progress. Likewise the Michael Caine scene, when we watched it I felt like I wanted to see more of that story, and that's the wrong feeling to have when you're supposed to be worried about Valentine and what his big plan is. It was one of those things that was really brutal. The same thing happened on Kick-Ass, there are two really fantastic deleted scenes in Kick-Ass that were so great and were part of Hit-Girl's training, but all they did was slow the middle of the movie down, it was so frustrating because we were trying to think of some way we could squeeze them in, but you've just got to keep moving forward. So unfortunately that Michael Caine thing was so awesome, it was tragic we had to cut it.

You should do a short prequel just starring digital Michael Caine.

[Laughs] I think even a two minute prequel, it can even just be what was shot. A two minute prequel and you can charge people ten bucks!


You've been collaborating with Matthew Vaughn for a few years now, what has that been like for you and how has the collaboration evolved?

It's funny because, Matthew and I couldn't be more different. We come from very different worlds, I come from what was the poorest part of the UK, the west of Scotland, and he comes from the richest part of England. He had butlers and things, he came up like Bruce Wayne, and I grew up like Trainspotting. Our lives couldn't be more different. The very first time we spoke on the phone, I think we spoke for about three hours. It's very weird, our top ten movies are the exact same movies! What we have in common is all the geek stuff; we have these points of reference in common, which I suppose is the basis of the friendship.

Do you think Matthew is the optimal person to adapt your work?

I love working with him. We're pals, we talk on the phone every day, and 45 minutes of that is just giving each other shit about something, and then 50 minutes of brainstorming. We have a good laugh, and often that's what we base the collaboration on, we actually enjoy working together. I've done three movies with his company now, so I know the film editors extremely well, I know the other producers really well. Any time there's a movie coming out, I'll fly in and just watch the movie with a fresh pair of eyes. They've been working on it all week and I'll come in and sit and watch it and then we'll sit afterwards and talk about it. I built up this relationship with the people there, they're all so lovely, and Matthew's employed the same guys for years now, it's like a nice little family. I do other stuff too, I'm working with Simon Kinberg over at Fox, and at Paramount and Universal I'm doing a couple of things, but Matthew and I think we'll probably always work together.

You just have so much on your plate, how do you manage to juggle all of these projects at once?

I'm a big believer in just letting it roll. Although it looks like I'm doing tons, I actually live quite a nice laidback lifestyle. I have three kids so I try to have a good balance and make sure I see plenty of the children. What I do is, I work 12 hour days. It's kind of like the way my dad worked, actually. I work 12 hour days, Monday through Thursday, then I take Friday, Saturday and Sunday off just to be with the children. It gives me a nice balance, and it means by Monday I'm really recharged again with the three days off. So I get up at 6 a.m., start at 7, then blast through as much work as I can. But I do less work than most of my friends, most comic guys do about 30 comics a year, and I do about 18. The film commitments and things take up a chunk of time, but I think 18's a nice number and it means I never push it too hard.

I know you can't say much about it just yet, but have you and Matthew talked much about Kingsman 2?

I haven't given it a huge amount of thought. Matthew's been putting some ideas together at the moment, but I'm finishing up some other things. I do this weird thing where I compartmentalize, I find it really hard to jump out of one thing and into another. He and I have been talking on the phone about it, but I haven't done a book for the second one or anything, so it would really just be an original screenplay, I think. It'll mostly come from pub conversations, and then Matthew and Jane [Goldman] will write a screenplay I guess. At the moment, it's just some set-pieces and some ideas, but there isn't really a finished thing yet, there's nothing close to a finished thing yet.

When I spoke to Matthew earlier in the year, he said you guys were quite keen on making a stand-alone Hit Girl movie. What can you tell me about that?

I love the idea of there being Hit Girl movies, it has to be the right story though. We have a crazy idea for it, and every now and then I think, is this too crazy? Because it's kind of insane. Would the world accept this? It makes Kick-Ass look like Finding Nemo. Matthew and I have chatted about it in the pub, and it's fine in the pub, but when we're being interviewed two years later, is it going to be terrifying? So I don't know, it seems a fun thing, though. It's funny, because Hit Girl was slightly pre-dated by about a year, before those kick-ass action heroine characters like The Hunger Games and Hanna and those kinds of things came along. And now I feel is a great time for her, so it could be really interesting.

I know you're a busy guy, you've got a ton of projects on your plate, what's front and center for you now, cinematically? Or what's the one that you really want to see move forward?

The next two that I think will be moving forward pretty quickly are Starlight and Chrononauts, I think they'll probably be made at the same time as Kingsman 2, if not even before. I think Starlight's screenplay is finished now, it was written by Gary Whitta, he finished the screenplay a couple of weeks back and we're just moving forward now looking for a director. Chrononauts, there's one of the actors already and we're just looking for the second guy. Those two I think are the most likely to be the next two out, and then we should have another three ready to roll next year as well.

I also have to ask you about the status of Kindergarten Heroes; that's one we heard about years ago but not so much recently.

That's over at Fox, I'm executive producing. About two, three weeks ago, Carter Blanchard, the screenwriter, handed in a new draft of it, so that's just up to Fox now. That's going to be interesting, because my stuff is generally R-rated, and I do love the idea of mixing it up a little. I love Quentin Tarantino, but I love Steven Spielberg, as well. So I love the idea of something like Starlight, or Chrononauts, something that's a big family-friendly adventure, and Kindergarten Heroes would be the most overt of those. I've got all these children, and I can never take them to any of my movies, I feel terrible, I feel like the worst dad in the world! [Laughs] At least with Kindergarten Heroes, they could probably play parts in the movie, you know?

Well, thank you so much for your time, I really appreciate it. I'm really looking forward to seeing my name in one of your books!

Listen, I'm gonna use it! It's fantastic, I love it. It's gotta be in the 70s, though, a 70s cop!


KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE hits Blu-ray/DVD on Tuesday, June 9th. Order your copy right HERE.

Source: JoBlo.com



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