An Interview with Tarquin Pack
Steve: You’re about one of half a dozen producers on Kick-Ass aren’t you?
Tarquin: Yeah! There are… who are my other producers… Brad Pitt, David Reid, John Romita Jr, Kris Thykier… how’s that for independant film-making!
Steve: That’s pretty damn impressive! The movies got a high calibre of people behind it I have to admit. Essentially, Kick-Ass is ‘the little comicbook movie that should’nt have worked’. It was made outside of the studio system, it evaded the censors. How has it been for you to see this movie get such a cult status in such a short amount of time?
Tarquin: It’s been, you’ve actually hit the nail on the head. It’s basically the little movie that could. We went on this extraordinary journey where we sent it to the studios, they all said no, we felt so passionately about it. Matthew is as a director and kind of as a filmmaker, he was kind of like ‘I know I’m right, I’ve done this before, I was here with Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels before, exactly the same position’, so it was unbelievable to go on the same sort of journey. The feeling to go to Comiccon, we kinda played it for the people we made it for, we got a standing ovation, you’re just kinda like, I hope to keep making films for a long time? I think it’s unlikely I ever go on that journey again! *laughs* We were the film that noone knew about, we made it despite everyone saying no, we thought we were right, we made it for the fans, the audience, and everyone was like ‘WOW!’
Steve: Obviously the movie a hard sell to the studios, it took a while to sell it I believe, without naming studios or people… what were some of the more absurd changes that were requested from you guys, to make the movie more ‘crowd pleasing’??
Tarquin: Oh we had them at every step of the way. When we were trying to get the film made, we had ‘Noone will want to go see a film which has an 11 year old girl slicing and dicing! Young men in particular don’t want to see that!’ I mean I dunno, Im young, I’m fairly young-ish? Cut to a year later, the same people are saying ‘What would be great is if there were MORE Hitgirl in the movie!!! Oh what about a Hitgirl spinoff!!! Yeah she’s the movie!!!’ Yeah cause you guys wanted to get rid of her completely…
Tarquin: My favorite was a studio coming to us and saying ‘We love it, we want to release it, but can you release a PG13 version?’
Steve: Oh shit! *laughs*
Tarquin: Yeah!!! *laughs* I remember sitting there with Matthew and we were like ‘Oh man that’s gonna be like four and a half minutes long! I mean we didn’t make it with a studio, so we never gave ourselves options. We never kinda went ‘well lets have a version where the guys don’t say fuck!’ we always were aiming to make an R rated movie! I mean I guess they’re used to dealing with people with the money they’ve got going “We’ll do it both ways to see what the censors say…” so no, there’s no secret PG13 version out there… nor would we want one! *laughs*
Steve: What was it that drew you to the Kick-Ass property?
Tarquin: The thing is, it was Matt who kinda found it through Mark Millar. He came to me and said ‘I’ve found this thing, it’s kinda an awesome homage to superhero movies?’ He felt it was the next logical step for superhero movies? We’ve seen Superhero movies, so now lets see a movie about people who want to BE superheroes because they’ve seen all the superhero movies! So… I mean, why, because we’re postmodern wankers? *laughs* Probably because it was fresh, it was different and it was new. I mean noone had done it before, so probably because it was fresh.
Steve: What was the feeling when Lionsgate finally bought the movie from you guys, especially seeing as they said ‘Do what you want we’ll release it as is’?
Tarquin: Lionsgate in that respect. We did a big screening in LA, all the big studios came, some of the studios had some facile kinda comments, one kinda, it declared itself out quickly but then came back around, we had some interest, serious interest, but Lionsgate saw it, they got it straight away, what the movie was. They were like ‘We love it we want to release it.’ That was a big part of it, the decision to go with them, it was like, they hung their hat on our peg and didn’t ask us to change a thing. That’s what we were dreading, ending up with a studio you know, having arguments over cutting, but Lionsgate never did that. It was great!
Steve: Made independantly obviously it was a huge gamble for you guys. Was there ever a point where the movie seemed too intimidating, where you wondered ‘what are we doing?’ or that you thought maybe you’d bitten off more than you could chew?
Tarquin: Hmmmm… do you ever go on rollercoasters??? *laughs*
Tarquin: I mean it was, there were so many points where it felt, like 3 or 4 weeks out from photography we hadn’t found Aaron Johnson. We thought the most difficult part to cast was Hitgirl, but she was one of the first few girls we saw. Then it was like, it would be real hard to cast Big Daddy? But you know, Nicholas Cage was like ‘Yeah love it! Im in!!!’, I mean the one thing that can’t be hard is casting a 19 year old right? We’re sitting in LA, and whatever we did we couldn’t find him. Matt was at the point, sitting there saying ‘I can’t make the film without the right guy, we’re gonna have to pull the plug!’ then this guy walks in and nails it, absolutely nails it. We were like ‘Wow that’s amazing! Where are you from???’ and he suddenly replies in an English accent and told us he’s from this little place just outside London? I mean the irony was, the casting director who was english said to us ‘I actually asked you guys to look at his tape, but because you’re both complete fuckwits, oh noooooo you need an AMERICAN kid to play an American… we can’t possibly look at any english people, so go over to Los Angeles and look for one. Three months before she actually HAD put him on tape! So there’s a lesson in that. Listen to your casting director! Throughout the whole thing, we had too little money, way too much ambition… it was great.
Steve: How did it feel when the first teasers got released and the internet went absolutely apeshit for them? Myself included!
Tarquin: It kinda vindicated our belief. Look it woulda been great if the movie coulda done more money in Australia? From a boxoffice point of view it was pretty succesful. From a personal filmmaking point of view? When you fall in love with a project and people tell you it won’t get made or shouldn’t get made and you go and make it because you KNOW there’s an audience for it? It’s like, a basic joy and happiness, I hope it’s not a generic movie, but you know, I think we crafted it well, the audience seemed to respond well to it, they weren’t served up yet another plate of shit? I mean the feeling the crew had when we were making it, everyone got invested, they decided they cared as well. When people started seeing it, seeing the teasers, how they reacted, it was like, it was great, it was amazing!
Steve: Do you hope to be working on Kick-Ass 2 : Balls to the Wall as a Producer?
Tarquin: Well I better do, or I’ll be in terrible trouble! *laughs* Hope I’ve done a good enough job working with Matthew, I mean I’m workin with him on Xmen First Class, so unless I really, REALLY fuck up on this one? Yeah I think I will be!
Steve: Is there anything you can tell us about the new X-Men movie at all?
Tarquin: I really wish there was but I’ve been sworn to secrecy! I’ve been told I can’t say ANYTHING about it other than it’ll be brilliant.
Steve: I mean I have to be honest I wasn’t a fan of the third one. Loved the first two and I’m really looking forward to this because I’m a fan of Matthews work.
Steve: Well Tarquin thanks for your time!
Tarquin: Thank you Steve, have a great day!
Kickass is available now on Bluray and DVD.
Xmen : First Class will be released in June 2011.
If you haven’t seen Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels… the question is why the hell not??? GO, watch it NOW.