The Kick-Ass kid talks to Total Film about, erm, kicking ass…
Aaron Johnson is no stranger to film sets. He played lust interest Robbie in Angus, Thongs And Perfect Snogging and a young Edward Norton in The Illusionist. But the curly-haired 18-year-old from High Wycombe jumped into the big time when Matthew Vaughn anointed him the teenage hero of Kick-Ass.
Johnson labels it “pure luck” that he bagged the role of New York City high-schooler Dave Lizewski, a comic-book geek who resolves to turn himself into a superhero despite lacking any special abilities. “They already had a guy but Matthew was looking for something different. I came in just at that point where the director was about to break so I guess I was a breath of fresh air.”
Adapted from Mark Millar’s hardcore comic, Kick-Ass shot last autumn in Toronto and Elstree. Alongside Dave – who Johnson describes as “this kid that no one wants to talk to who becomes one of the coolest icons out there” – the actioner also features Nicolas Cage as an ex-cop united in vigilantism with his daughter Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz) and Christopher Mintz-Plasse – aka McLovin’ – as co-wannabe Red Mist. Johnson was gutted, however, to learn that extensive physical training wasn’t required. “I was thinking, ‘This is great! I can get buff and learn how to fight!’ But my character happens to be very bad at fighting.”
Unlike last year’s adap of Wanted (“I wasn’t that impressed with the film because Mark’s comic-book is so incredible”), Johnson insists that Vaughn has stuck closely to Millar’s frenzied universe. “It’s not all clean-cut and 12A, it’s got this raw edginess to it,” says Johnson, his fingers calloused from guitar lessons for his next gig, playing one John Lennon in Nowhere Boy. “People at the studios are like, ‘It’s too hardcore!’, so Matthew may have to dial it down. But imagine an 11-year-old girl getting out two samurai swords, chopping a guy’s head off and going, ‘What cunt’s next?’ And then killing everybody in a massacre. It’s bad-ass.”
And, indeed, kick-ass…