Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Firth Applaud 'Kingsman' Weapons and Overdue, R-Rated Spy Humor

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Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson and Sofia Boutella

"In 'Skyfall,' Q says, 'We don't do gadgets.' I thought, if I were a spy in a modern-day world, I'd quite like having a blade covered in some horrible toxin or a watch that shot amnesia darts!"

"I speak for the Americans in this cast — I guess I'm it, almost, right?" jested Samuel L. Jackson to the SVA Theatre audience at the North American premiere of Kingsman: The Secret Service on Monday night. "For those of you who think you're gonna see this film for free tonight and watch Fifty Shades of Grey next Friday, I just want you to know that you can probably make your own version of Fifty Shades of Grey at home and it'll be better than the version that you'll pay your money to go and see! I suggest you take some friends to see this as your Valentine's gift."

Jackson's lighthearted introduction at the New York City screening — presented by both Twentieth Century Fox and 21st Century Fox — was a fitting preface for Matthew Vaughn's British gentleman spy film, which stars Colin Firth as an agent of the independent international organization that challenges Jackson as Valentine, a tech billionaire and philanthropist with a plan to solve the world's environmental crisis. Firth told The Hollywood Reporter of shooting opposite Jackson: "It was genuinely difficult to keep a straight face — all the paradoxes. He's a crazy homicidal maniac who can't stand the sight of blood!"

With campy one-liners, self-aware hero-villain explanations and absurd violence, the big-screen adaptation of Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons' comic-book series "pays homage to all those slightly more theatrical, fun spy romps," explained Taron Egerton, with Jackson and Firth agreeing. "There are nods to James Bond and John Steed in The Avengers, but I think it stands on its own as well. It's not a parody or a spoof; it's a satirical love letter."

Added Jack Davenport, "Nothing was sacred — he's taken all the elements you'd want in a spy movie and then gleefully subverted all of it. It's also fairly outrageous! It's well-documented that spy movies in general, they're great these days, but they're quite serious! I think the world needs more villains with razor-sharp legs, quite honestly."

The indulgence in British culture onscreen continued at the High Line Hotel after-party, where the guests — including Mick JaggerKevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick, Olivia Palermo, Paul Haggis, Brooke Shields, Claudia Schiffer, Catherine O'Hara, Rachel Roy, Magic Johnson, Maxwell, Julie Henderson, Erin Richards and Roger Ailes — joined the cast for drinks from Kingsman-branded bottles and signature U.K. dishes including beef Wellington, shepherd's pie and fish 'n' chips, as well as sliders and fries — a nod to the film's major meal.

Nailing the hybrid tone of the R-rated romp — which also stars Michael Caine, Mark Strong and Mark Hamill — was "very hard" and "a balancing act extraordinaire" for Vaughn. However, "the fun thing was bringing in old gadgets and making them relevant," the director said with a smile. "In Skyfall, Q says, 'We don't do gadgets.' I thought, if I were a spy in a modern-day world, I'd quite like having a blade covered in some horrible toxin or a watch that shot amnesia darts. That would help you in life! Let's bring it back. If Bond ain't got it, we'll take it!"

"I was in love with this stuff as a kid — I'd fantasize that all my school equipment was actually something else," added Firth of playing with the Kingsman equipment. "Those of us with ordinary lives, that's a way in: We're not really this ordinary, secretly we can do all these incredible things, and we're on a mission to save the world." Among multifunctional pens, lighters and thick-framed glasses, Sofia Boutella loved the Kingsman protective bespoke suit, and Sophie Cookson preferred the bulletproof umbrella. "It's because I live in London and it's always raining, so I feel attached to it!" she said.

The younger Kingsman actors — for many, it was their first major feature — noted that despite playing the villain, Jackson acted as a mentor on set. While his Live! With Kelly and Michael interview suggested that Jackson should pen his own advice-filled memoir, he admitted to THR, "I've never given it any thought. I'm so busy living!" But if he were to do so, he'd tell readers "not to miss any experiences — people always say, What would you do differently? I guess, nothing, because everything led me to this particular place. Just always realize that there's some light at the end of your tunnel. You just have to keep focusing on the light and not the dark."


The evening's co-hosts, 20th Century Fox chairman Jim Gianopulos and 21st Century Fox Co-COO James Murdoch fete director Matthew Vaughn.

Email: Ashley.Lee@THR.com
Twitter: @cashleelee

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