FOR actor Taron Egerton the new Kingsman movie involved a real slap in the face. Quite literally. When shooting a scene with actor Ed Holcroft, the 27-year-old leading man received a smack on the hooter.
‘Ed is supposed to just miss me with his punch and then they are supposed to CG it to make it look as though he has connected,’ laughs Egerton, ‘but he hit me square in the face, a right hook right on the nose. It’s in the movie in slo-mo.’
The pain didn’t end there. ‘During the opening sequence there is a big scene in a black cab and I got my hand slammed in the door,’ says Egerton. ‘I also got quite a lot of repetitive strain injuries. Every time you see me getting my head slammed into the ground, we’ve shot that about 15 different times.’
Such are the travails of a newly emerged action star. The pain comes as Egerton reprises his leading role in the second Kingsman movie, The Golden Circle, director Matthew Vaughn’s follow up to 2015 box-office smash The Secret Service. Egerton returns as Eggsy, a London street kid recruited into the ranks of England’s rather dapper undercover intelligence service, the Kingsmen.
The first comedy-action film, which Vaughn and screenwriter Jane Goldman adapted from the comic book by Mark Millar, proved something of a dark horse, scooping more than $400 million at the box office and launching Egerton on the road to stardom.
‘There have been other projects I’ve been involved in where you’re never entirely sure if it is going to work but I never had that feeling with the first Kingsman,’ Egerton explains. ‘This might sound a little arrogant but for me its success felt preordained. Maybe that was because it was the romance of getting the role without having done any other film work before. But I’m not sure we expected it to do as well as it did.’
Its success has seen Colin Firth return to play Eggsy’s mentor Harry, while also attracting a new clutch of star names. The likes of Halle Berry, Jeff Bridges and Channing Tatum have all joined the sequel, starring as Statesmen, the Kingsmen’s American counterparts.
‘I go toe-to-toe with Channing at one point and that was great,’ Egerton recalls. ‘I am really enjoying life. I get to go to cool places and meet cool people.’
Yet Egerton insists he’s keeping his feet on the ground.
‘I am trying to retain as much of a semblance of normality as I can,’ he says. ‘There’s this perception that when you make a couple of movies your life changes radically and the streets are paved with gold but I still go to the same places and I go home whenever I can.’
Egerton was born in Cheshire but moved to Wales as a child. His name is a misspelling of Taran, which is derived from the Welsh name for thunder.
‘These days I am a bit of a nomad,’ he says. ‘I spend a lot of time in London but try to spend as much time in Wales as possible.
‘I am in a relationship with a girl who lives in Hertfordshire so I spend time there. But my heart is in Wales if that doesn’t sound too sickly and romantic. That’s where I want to return to.’
Egerton fell in love with acting while living in Aberystwyth, appearing in a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream as a teen. He then trained at Rada.
He went on to secure a role opposite Alicia Vikander in 2014’s Testament Of Youth and, in the wake of the first Kingsman movie, landed a part in Tom Hardy’s Kray brothers biopic, Legend, before taking the starring role in Eddie The Eagle, produced by Kingsman’s Vaughn.
Coming up he has Billionaire Boys Club, a real-life drama with Ansel ‘Baby Driver’ Elgort and Kevin Spacey, and director Otto Bathurst’s Robin Hood movie, in which he takes the starring role.
‘Doing something like Robin Hood almost gives you licence to be a kid again,’ he says, ‘and Otto has a really interesting take on the story. Our version feels quite gritty and dark but also quite funny. I saw it the other day and I am very, very excited by it.’
Both Robin Hood and Kingsman: The Golden Circle look sure to do big business at the box office. If they don’t, well, that would be an even more painful slap in the face.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle is in cinemas from today
Who’s new in Kingsman 2?
Plays Poppy, a criminal mastermind linked with The Golden Circle, a secret underground organisation
Plays Ginger, a tech support wizard for Statesman, America’s network of Southern gentleman agents
Plays Champagne, the grizzled head of Statesman, more commonly known as Champ
Plays Tequila, a top agent at Statesman and a man with many talents. He gets into a ruckus with Eggsy
Plays Whiskey, another agent at Statesman. Their front is a liquor business, in case you’re wondering about the names…