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Quint chats superheroes, Hit Girl and KICK-ASS 2 with Jane Goldman!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with my final remaining WonderCon interview which was with the lovely Ms. Jane Goldman, co-writer of the script for Kick-Ass and longtime Matthew Vaughn collaborator. It was hard to miss her in the hotel lounge, with her boisterous and adorable accent and fire-red hair. I sat while she finished up a phone interview, which was good because I had been awake until the wee hours of the morning completing my Day 1 coverage of WonderCon and had to struggled to will myself out of bed when the alarm when off. So, the brief downtime allowed me to flesh out some of my questions and think about what I wanted to talk about, much of which went right out the window as soon as our chat began. I’m a very conversational interviewer and Ms. Goldman was a conversational interviewee, so there wasn’t a moment where I was awkwardly trying to propel the chat along. We talk a bit about the journey Kick-Ass took from independent film to big studio release, how its early showing at BNAT helped and how Comic-Con fueled the fire that got Lionsgate to scoop it up. We also talk a bit about a Kick-Ass 2. Enjoy the chat!

Quint: I apologize if there’s a lethargy to this conversation; I was up until 4:30 in the morning writing.

Jane Goldman: Oh, no worries. I woke up at 2:30, so we are probably making a good pair.

Quint: So, I got to see the movie at Butt-Numb-A-Thon.

Jane Goldman: Did you? Oh, of course. I wish I had been at that screening! It sounded like it went down well.

Quint: It’s so awesome.

Jane Goldman: Oh, thank you.

Quint: We had the new Scorsese film, we had the first James Cameron feature in a decade, we had the new Peter Jackson movie and then he had classics like Powell & Pressburger’s THE RED SHOES and all of this stuff… and KICK-ASS stole the night. Second to last movie.

Jane Goldman: That sounds like a great line up. I could not believe that when I heard. When I read the reports, I was just overjoyed. It’s a massive honor. I’m so pleased.

Quint: And I have to give a lot of credit to Matthew [Vaughn], because there were technical difficulties, a speaker blew out, and I talked to him in the 25 minutes in between when the speaker blew out and when they were able to get it back and I don’t know… I’ve seen directors, especially showing their work for the first time… He seemed very calm and very laid back and went with it, but I’ve seen people, even when the sound isn’t turned up enough go “My movie! My glorious movie!”

Jane Goldman: That was probably Matthew’s nightmare actually, because he is always fiddling with the sound whenever we have a screening or the ratio or something… There’s always something, so for it to actually break is probably Matthew’s nightmare made real.

Quint: I think he was feeding off of the excitement, because it broke right at the first Hit Girl action sequence…

Jane Goldman: I know! That’s so crazy!

Quint: She had had her “Cunts” line and everybody went ballistic and then whatever blew out the speaker. S5o while they were fixing the speaker, everybody was buzzing off of that action sequence.

Jane Goldman: Awesome. Good.

Quint: It was almost like it was planned, because it fed into the excitement of the crowd and then when it restarted, that’s when people started clapping along with the music and getting into it.

Jane Goldman: It sounded like it worked out great. I’m so happy and that’s an amazing lot of feedback we got from that screening.

Quint: You guys picked a good crowd. We are a punch of geeks and that movie is…

Jane Goldman: If your crowd hadn’t enjoyed it. If the BNAT crowd hadn’t enjoyed it, we would have been fucked to be honest. (laughs)

Quint: Well I’m glad we liked it, but it’s easy to like the movie. You guys have the hard job of actually making it and making it work. I interviewed Mark [Millar] and John [Romita Jr.] way back at SXSW (coming soon) and they were telling me that you guys were actually feeling around on another project and then they were like “Oh, we’ve got this other thing that we ware doing” and pretty much dropped the other thing and said “This is what we want.”

Jane Goldman: There is definitely something to that, yeah. Matthew and I had just finished writing a script for a film called THE DEBT which is coming out later this year that Matthew was thinking of directing and then at that point he was also thinking of getting involved in THOR, but then as soon as he heard about KICK-ASS and heard about the story and it really was literally just a concept at that point, I think Matthew knew that was the next film he wanted to direct. So THE DEBT went to John Madden who directed SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE and that’s coming out later this year and THOR went wherever THOR went…

Quint: To Branaugh.

Jane Goldman: Exactly, which is fine. I think Matthew’s got a great instinct for story and for what he wants to do and I think he immediately knew he wanted this to be the project we would work on next.

Quint: As a writer, is it interesting to you especially where you can look at a project like KICK-ASS and whenever you guys were attached, it wasn’t a phenomenon yet.

Jane Goldman: It wasn’t even a comic yet! (laughs) That’s the crazy thing.

Quint: That’s what I mean, you get to jump in...

Jane Goldman: It was a very unusual situation, very unusual. It certainly wasn’t your regular adaptation kind of situation, which was great, but I think what made it so easy was how laid back Mark was about us taking liberties and knowing that he wasn’t going to go crazy knowing that he had given us so much free reign and that made it very easy and very pleasurable.

Quint: They seemed to be really pleased with the movie. John hadn’t seen it when I had talked to them, but Mark had and he was like “You are going to go crazy, because there are scenes that are just really visual moving adaptations of your work.”

Jane Goldman: Well, they would be, because the screenplay came first and then the comic. (laughs) That’s why there are so many similarities yeah. They were really stories that grew up alongside of each other. There were places where Mark decided to make different choices that were more fitted to a comic book, but…

Quint: Yeah, I noticed in the book that there are a few pretty significant branchings off, but the tone is the same.

Jane Goldman: Absolutely the same. Absolutely. But I think that was the nice thing about the screenplay and the comic kind of being written side by side. The spirit of the thing is very much intact in both.

Quint: When you are working like this… Obviously you guys had to pepper in things. You see the end of the movie and it’s obvious that you are setting up a sequel or at least the ideas of a jumping off point, but when you are doing that, when you are writing that at the very same time as the comic, how closely did you need to collaborate with Mark?

Jane Goldman: Mark had pretty much said to us at the beginning “Look, as long as you don’t kill anyone that I’d like to be alive at the end of the first volume, then knock yourselves out,” which was awesome of him, but essentially, obviously, we would keep in constant contact with Mark and just go “Look, is it cool if we do this? Is it cool if we do that?” Then Mark would say, “Actually, I’m going to go this way with that,” but in terms of how…

Quint: It almost sounds like how they worked with JK Rowling on HARRY POTTER, but she knew what was going to happen.

Jane Goldman: Sure. That’s the thing, that JK Rowling always had those books mapped out in her head, whereas actually at the point where we jumped on Mark was still making decisions, some of which were…

Quint: Still a seedling.

Jane Goldman: Yeah, absolutely. It worked out really well and as I said, it’s a testament to Mark about how laid back he is. I think Mark’s idea for his sequel, he’s always had more fully formed in his head and if there ever was a KICK-ASS sequel, whether it would exactly follow Mark’s second volume, I’m not sure.

Quint: Oh, I think there’s going to be a demand for it, so you better be prepping for it!

Jane Goldman: (laughs) Like I say, Mark is far far down the line with his. He’s had it in his head a long time and I know where he wants to go with it, but whether… In terms of the symbiotic relationship between the KICK-ASS sequel for the comic and any possible sequel for the film, which Matthew and I really don’t want to jump the gun about. We really want to see how we do and everything, although it was so much fun to work on, but yeah they may diverge a little more. I don’t know.

Quint: And I don’t know any of the behind the scenes stuff, but it almost seems like kind of a dream result for the movie, because you guys did it independently and then not only were you able to sell it once you finished it, but you sold it to a studio who seems to be throwing their full weight behind it.

Jane Goldman: We were so grateful for that. It really has been quite a fairytale for us because we were taking a massive chance really.

Quint: It’s not a small movie and that’s the thing. It’s definitely something that if it didn’t work, it would have been disastrous.

Jane Goldman: Definitely and for a lot of people involved.

Quint: And even if it did work, the fact that it’s an R rated examination of superhero iconography and culture, but at the same time turning into its own superhero movie… that’s what I love about it. It starts off as something where it’s like in the real world this is what happens, and by the end of it, you’ve got a guy flying around shooting machine guns.

Jane Goldman: It certainly does take that turn, but yes I think it was… It sounds like a made-up story, but it’s absolutely true the fact that we took the script as it was around the studios and it was either turned down flat or we were told that there were caveats and we were told “Could you change this and that” and absolute kudos for Matthew Vaughn for sticking to his guns and saying “This is the way I want to have it made.”

Quint: I think it will make all of the difference. What’s interesting… I love that the studio is behind it, but like you were saying no studio would have ever made this movie.

Jane Goldman: No. [Laughs] In fact, the gentleman journalist I was talking to just before was telling me the story of the guy who decided to send around the script for ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST, but with a different title, to see what everyone’s response would be and everyone turned it down and one person said “Maybe if they killed the big nurse we might consider it,” but I think it is interesting. Whether that’s real or not, I don’t know, but it’s a good story. I think the point is, something that maybe falls between genres that might not be immediately obvious exactly who the audience is, I think it’s a scary investment for the studio.

Quint: Or the assumption that the audience that it’s aimed at would be too small, but you see the fan support you guys are getting. Every time you show the movie, you are getting more and more voices that are screaming about it.

Jane Goldman: It’s been a delight and to be honest a huge part of how this story went for us was Comic-Con in San Diego. It played a massive role and in a way it was a crazy chance that we took that we were saying “We are going to play it there and if it goes down well there…” That was the week before we were going to go see studios and distributors and try to get it sold. As Matthew always said “It could end up being the world’s most expensive home movie” and the fact that our entire plan was “Let’s take it to Comic-Con and hope people like it.” That’s a crazy plan!

Quint: I was doing interviews, so I couldn’t be there, but I heard the reaction when I was upstairs talking to people and then everybody was like “Oh man, KICK-ASS stole the Con.”

Jane Goldman: We were so happy. It was almost like a silly sweet 40’s movie moment and then there’s the standing ovation and I literally had a tear in my eye. “It’s all going to be okay,” which is kind of odd to have to turn your eye when people are giving you a standing ovation for a child chopping off a crack dealer’s leg. That maybe undermined the Capra-esque nature of the moment, but yeah it was a really moving moment because we were all like “I think we are going to be okay!” Then it literally, as I say, had this fairytale quality where we got this wonderful reception from giant Hall H with 6,000 people or whatever and literally a couple of days later when we had our screening in LA every studio head showed up. It was a very sweet moment. We were very happy.

Quint: Nice. Well I can’t not talk about Hit Girl and how especially writing her character, you have to know that that role is so cast dependent.

Jane Goldman: Yes!

Quint: It can work so well on the page, but you have to find that one kid in a million to pull it off.

Jane Goldman: Absolutely. We were very fortunate in that Chloe [Moretz] was one of the first people to come in an audition. It was immediately apparent, as you can imagine, that she was the right girl for the role, so that was a huge weight off of our minds.

Quint: You not only had to audition her, but you had to audition her parents.

Jane Goldman: This is absolutely true. The thing is the script had gone out and hopefully any parents who had an issue with the material hopefully wouldn’t have brought their kid in for the audition.

Quint: I was at Golden Apple comics in LA around, I guess, the time the auditioning process was going on and I was talking to the guy behind the counter and he was saying that he had a very entertaining day pretty much selling nothing but KICK-ASS comics to all of these moms and little girls, because they were all going out to read for it.

Jane Goldman: (laughs) That’s hilarious. That’s amazing. We were very fortunate in that Chloe was utterly perfect and comes from a very supportive family and they are an extremely polite family and certainly wouldn’t behave like that in real life, but I think her mom is a very sophisticated sensible woman who is easily able to differentiate between fantasy and reality, so it was not an issue at all.

Quint: So, what’s next? You have the movie coming out and then you have whatever you are working on now.

Jane Goldman: Yeah, in terms of Matthew and I it’s still up in the air despite anything you might hear. Certainly lots of things are being talked abut, but we are totally just focusing on this right now, but THE DEBT, which was the movie that got abandoned, comes out later this year with John Madden’s very grown-up stamp on it. It’s very good. It’s a really interesting movie he has made there. It’s much more of a drama. It’s a huge departure in terms of Matthew and I, but John’s done a wonderful job. And I’ve just finished a final draft for an adaptation of THE WOMEN IN BLACK, which is this sort of Victorian ghost story thing that James Watkins is going to be directing. In terms of our next project or Matthew’s or however it turns out. There are a few things being talked about right now, but absolutely nothing is firm, but it’s an exciting time.

Quint: It’s just good to know you guys are continuing to work together, because I think you guys work very well together.

Jane Goldman: Thank you so much.

Quint: It’s a great collaboration..

Jane Goldman: Well I appreciate it. Thank you very much.

Quint: Thanks!

I have a few other Kick-Ass interviews that will drop this week, including my lengthy chat with John Romita Jr. and Mark Millar and a video interview (my first) that was done with the cast of Kick-Ass (Aaron Johnson, Chloe Moretz and Christopher Mintz-Plasse) for SXSW’s Studio SX. -Quint Follow Me On Twitter

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