While many superhero movies strive to be populist — butt-kicking, awe-inspiring but still PG-13 friendly — Kick-Ass is a comic book movie of a different caliber. Developed in conjunction with the comic series of the same name by writer Mark Millar and artist John Romita Jr., the film chronicles the adventures of a geeky teen named Dave Lizewski, who decides to don a costume and fight crime because he’s tired of people getting away with it. After becoming an unwitting Youtube hit, his newfound (and dubious) public hero status is challenged by another hero named Red Mist and assisted by a bizarre father-daughter team called Big Daddy and Hit-Girl who do more than kick ass — they kill people. When they all ultimately get entangled with the mafia, the R-rated Kick-Ass turns into a bigger bloodbath than most superhero movies usually do.
Movies.com caught up with the film’s three young stars — Aaron Johnson (Kick-Ass), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Red Mist) and Chloë Moretz (Hit-Girl) — to discuss this edgy, over-the-top action flick.
Movies.com:Were you comic book fans prior to making this movie? Or was this all new to you?
Aaron Johnson: It’s pretty new to me. I watched the Batman [movie] box sets growing up and watched a lot of Spider-Man. I loved Tim Burton’s Batman. I was a big fan of Wolverine. I had a Spider-Man costume when I was six, but I really loved Wolverine. I used to put metal kebab skewers between my knuckles. I don’t think my mom was that impressed. I never read comic books. Kick-Ass introduced me to that world.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: I wasn’t too familiar [with comics]. My dad’s been a huge comic book fan since the ’70s. He’s got thousands in the garage, by the chair and by the toilet when he’s doing number two. I know I’ve read some of his comics back in the day but I can’t quite remember.
Chloë, had you read the comic book before the auditions?
Chloë Moretz: I hadn’t. I read the script. I hear that it was a lot like the comic. I like looking at the pictures. Is that bad to say? The comic is even more violent than the movie. I don’t chop someone’s head in half in the movie.
What kind of training did you have to do for this film?
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: I didn’t have to do too much. Chloë did a lot of training for this movie, but I hated my costume. It was awful. The first day it was amazing because I looked so cool in it, and after that you’re wearing it for 10 or 12 hours a day and are sweating nonstop. You have to keep hydrated. The cape was tied very tight around my arms. It would cut [into me], and I would get bruises and weird rashes in places. It was very uncomfortable.
Chloë Moretz: I worked with UCLA top gymnasts, the Jackie Chan stunt crew, the 300 stunt crew. I worked with one of the top tumblers in the world and gymnasts. It was so hard, but it was something that I really love because I’m so athletic. I trained two months before the film even started.
Did you do gymnastics before?
Chloë Moretz: Yeah, I do ballet and gymnastics.
Aaron Johnson: I used to be a dancer, so Matthew wanted me to lose a lot of weight and just quit exercising. When I was 16, I was more bulky and had [wider] shoulders. He wanted me to look like an ordinary, weedy kid. I trained to be able to take a punch in the face and a kick and roll around on the floor and wave my arms around manically. That’s pretty much it.
Chris, did you have any regrets that you didn’t get this great fight training?
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: Yes, but then four months into it I’m just sitting there eating a sandwich and drinking Coke while Chloe is stressing out and working so hard. And I’m kicking back. But if there’s a sequel — knock on wood, if there is one — I think I would train for that one and do some pretty cool stuff.
It’s interesting that Aaron mentioned Tim Burton’s vision of Batman, because there is a parallel between Burton’s films and this one in the sense that the costumed crusaders are portrayed as dysfunctional and even homicidal.
Aaron Johnson: Why Kick-Ass works is that everybody can relate to the fact that these kids have been brainwashed inasmuch as comic books are all they read every day. That’s their world. They naïvely go into these things and not think about the consequences or the circumstances they’re putting themselves in. I think Hit-Girl is a great example for when you tell a kid that they can do anything, they’ll go out and do it. Hit-Girl is trying to kick ass and beat people up. That’s all she knows she can do until she gets kicked in the face, then there’s a moment of realization that she hasn’t gotten any superpowers. I think that’s what’s great about it — none of these kids have superpowers, and they can all die in an instant.
What advice would you give for preparing for a superhero movie as opposed to a straight drama or comedy?
Aaron Johnson: To beware of the chafing of a jock strap because wearing that 12-1/2 hours a day is sweaty.
Chris, what was the inspiration for playing Red Mist?
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: [The character of] Chris D’Amico was very tame and low-key, and he was always looking for his father’s acceptance. When he creates Red Mist, he allows his alter ego to come out — more free, smoking weed, blasting music and dancing with Kick-Ass, the more party side to him. That’s what I was going for.
Did you actually get to drive the Mist Mobile?
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: Yeah. It sucked. It was a stick shift, and I had never driven a stick shift. I had to learn on that car, and it was a $200,000 car, so if I wrecked it I would have to pay for it. I’m getting all nervous and clammy right now just thinking about it.
We hear that you think that Red Mist looks like Adam Lambert?
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: I was going for the David Bowie look, and then some asshole said, “You look like Adam Lambert.” I was like, “You just ruined it all for me, man. I don’t want that. That’s not what I think.” So don’t quote me on that.
Chloë , were your parents worried about any of the stunts that you did?
Chloë Moretz: The first movie I ever did was The Amityville Horror, and I was actually on the roof 40 feet up on wires, so I’ve always been pretty cool with action. I did all the stunts here except running up the wall.
Were there any times you got hurt?
Chloë Moretz: I fell on my face once. It was really funny actually.
Did they get that on film?
Chloë Moretz: They did. I ran across this table and slid across it, and I slid a little too much and Mark [Strong] accidentally stepped on my cable a little bit. I fell on my face and lay on the ground. Everyone got really scared. The reason I stayed there for about a minute while I thought that they were still rolling is because the action guys would go, “Stay on the ground. They might be able to finish the scene if you’re on the ground. So just stay and don’t move!” So I stayed on the ground. They thought I died.
Who do you think is going to see Kick-Ass?
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: I’m hoping we get the teenagers. I think the teenage boys are going to love it. My dad loves it, and comic book fans are going to love it. We just did an all-girl screening in London, and they loved it. They were all different ages, from 20 to 50. Aaron is a very cute guy, so I’m hoping girls will want to go see him.