Who says you need powers to be a super hero? Aaron Johnson as Kick-Ass and Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Red Mist show that you can fight crime without super powers in director Matthew Vaughn’s action-packed film “Kick-Ass.” A mix of humor and fast-paced action, “Kick-Ass” combines elements of “Zombieland” and “Fight Club” into one awesome flick that hit theaters last Friday.
“Kick-Ass” is adapted from Mark Millar’s hyper-violent Marvel comic book featuring kids who take on villains before bedtime. Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson), aka Kick-Ass, is an average comic book loving, teenage New Yorker who purchases a wet suit and fights crime without coordination or superpowers. Soon Kick-Ass becomes the talk of the town and is joined by “real heroes” Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and his “preteen killing machine” daughter Hit-Girl (Chloe Moretz). The group takes on Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong), a ruthless drug lord and his ambitious son Chris (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) a.k.a. Red Mist.
At the posh Palace Hotel off of Market and Montgomery, the Foghorn sat down with the film’s protagonist Aaron Johnson and his arch nemesis Chris Mintz-Plasse. Both Johnson and Mintz-Plasse said they started acting when they were six-years-old. British native Johnson played John Lennon in “Nowhere Boy,” Robbie in “Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging” and Young Eisenheim in “The Illusionist.” Chris Mintz-Plasse gained fame right out of high school for playing Fogell, or rather McLovin,’ in “Superbad,” and hit the big screen more recently in “Role Models,” “Year One” and “How to Train Your Dragon.”
Sitting down with Johnson, I asked if the filming process was different for an American film than a British one. “No, but I have had some experience with American films before, such as when I did “Shanghai Knights” with Jackie Chan,” he said. “Also, the crew of Kick-Ass is British and we filmed a lot of scenes in London, so I didn’t feel out of place. I had a lot of support from everyone involved in the film. They all felt like family,” he answered in his charming English accent.
However charming it was, Johnson had no problem dropping his accent for an American one in the film. “I picked it up quite easily by talking to Americans,” he said. He didn’t have to pick up as many fighting skills as his 11-year-old coworker Chloe Moretz, who had to train for two months to learn her Hit-Girl moves. Johnson didn’t do much of his fighting. Of the moves he did have to perform, he said, “I use to be a dancer so it came naturally.”
Even though the character Kick-Ass does not possess any natural superpowers, Johnson knows what kind of powers he’d want to have if he were a comic book superhero: “Powers that would cure cancer or ones that could speed up time or slow it down.”
Johnson enjoyed working with director Matthew Vaughn. “He’s brilliant! He’s a fantastic director!” he said. “He took a huge gamble on this film and it came through because of him. This film needed someone who was strong and he was that someone.” Getting the movie made was challenging because of the violence and Hit-Girl’s potty mouth. Even though the film is about teenagers stopping bad guys, the adult language and hostility make this film rated R, which eliminates some potential viewers.
Like James Lipton on the Actor’s Studio, I asked Aaron if he has any tattoos. As it turns out, Aaron has a tattoo on his hip. He laughed and said it is John Lennon’s first lyric that he wrote and sang: “In spite of all the danger” as he showed me it. He got the tattoo after playing John Lennon in “Nowhere Boy.”
After a picture and goodbyes, I walked into a different suite where I met Mintz-Plasse, who began filming “Superbad” after finishing 11th grade. He auditioned using a headshot off his cell phone, was home schooled for about three months and then returned to finish off his senior year. Since he was a minor, his mom had to be present during his sex scene for “Superbad.” “It wasn’t too horrible,” said Mintz-Plasse. “The movie came out after my senior year, so that was nice. It was good because I didn’t need to go to college anymore.”
He also had a positive experience working with director Matthew Vaughn. “He’s very relaxed with a dry sense of humor. If you get on his good side then you are good. He made a lot of risks for this film that paid off in the end I think.” I asked him if he had read the comic book before the movie and he said that he read it before he auditioned, though his role wasn’t in the original text. “I originally auditioned for the part of Kick-Ass, but they said I had a different look and so they wrote the part of Red Mist. That’s why the character’s name in the movie is Chris.”
Once again I asked the tattoo question. He laughed like Johnson, but said he does not have a tattoo and he will never get one because it’s there forever. Then came the question I was dying to ask: has your love life improved since you became famous, especially since your nickname is McLovin’? Of coarse he laughed, and declared, “It’s improving by the second,” as he proceeded to ask me on a date. Sadly, we did not exchange numbers.
Mintz-Plasse plans to keep acting and wants to branch out from the comedy genre. “I would like to continue acting obviously, but I want to do more dramatic roles.”
Like many actors, both Johnson and Mintz-Plasse do not like watching themselves on the screen, but they shouldn’t worry. With their humor and talent, this movie definitely lives up to its name.