Comic-Con 2013: ‘Kick-Ass 2′ Director Jeff Wadlow
Picture this scene: Playboy and Universal Pictures host a wild party outside at Comic-Con the other night. There are stuntmen on ziplines, Playboy bunnies, lots and lots and lots of alcohol. Now imagine showing up to that party the very next morning at 9am. There are no stuntmen or models and the only alcohol left are the many random bottles still strewn around. This is when and where I meet ‘Kick-Ass 2‘ director Jeff Wadlow.
We both look and feel a little…worse for wear. A member of the cleaning crew is nice enough to cover over with some Windex and clean off a small area for us to sit. I feel hungover. I feel like I’m back in college. It all feels very…’Kick-Ass.’
And with that, we’re off and talking Comic-Con, the challenges of making a sequel and casting Jim Carrey.
Is this your first time at Comic-Con?
No, this is actually my seventh time.
Yeah, they said I only needed to come for one night but they would pay for the hotel for four nights. Well, then I’m staying for all four nights.
Did you do anything on the floor before your panel?
Yeah, I walked the floor. I love the floor. I walked the floor on Wednesday night and a little on Thursday morning. Then I hit the Hasbro booth and got all their stuff. This is the first year where I didn’t have to wait in line to get the ticket. My agent represents Hasbro and he’s like, “You’re not getting in line! You’re getting hooked up!” So, how many years have you been coming here?
This is my eighth year.
Yeah, I remember coming when there wasn’t anything like this.
It’s almost turning into Sundance for pop culture. I love it when they have the ‘Castle’ panel here. Really? There are a lot of ‘Castle’ fans around?
So how’d you think your panel went?
I was pleased! We had a lot of people up there and a little more time would’ve been nice. They were trying to get us off the stage and I hijacked it to make sure that Donald and Lindy got a question. I would’ve liked to have opened it up to the audience.
How’d the audience react to the panel? I wasn’t able to get there.
I think they liked it. I was close to the center channel and all I could hear was ringing but I talked to people in the crowd afterward and they loved it.
How close are you to being done with the movie?
Completely done. Wrapped. Finished in the middle of May. I made the movie in London and Toronto so I was away for a full year. I left the dub stage on the last day and got on a plane and flew back here and that was the end of it. Comes out in four weeks.
That’s something of a luxury. You hear a lot of horror stories about directors working right up to the last second to meet a predetermined release date.
Well…yes and no. I was still on deadlines that were just as tight because of budgetary constraints. This was not a big-budget movie. We made this movie for $28 million. Not so sound modest but when I pitched myself, I said, I don’t consider myself some great artiste but what I do is, I can make your money count. My first movie was $1 million and I think it looked like about $5 million. My second movie was $18 million and I think it looked like $30 million. Trying to do the same thing here.
When you went to pitch yourself for the job, what else helped you secure the gig?
It was a weird decision, where it was an open directing assignment. Basically, I pitched Matthew another project. He liked it but went to do ‘X-Men: First Class’ so I wrote it. I sent him the script and he said, “the script is great, it’s just like the pitch. So you do what you say you’re going to do.” And I’m like, “yeah…” And he said, “Do you want to do ‘Kick-Ass 2,’” and I said yeah. We talked a lot about the story and I told him where I thought it should go and they were all very nervous because in the comic, Mindy is 11 but Chloe is 14 and she can’t play 11 any more. Does Hit-Girl not work? But I told them, that’s the story you tell. Tell the story of Hit-Girl coming of age. That was my big idea for the movie. I didn’t hear from Matthew for a while. So, I just wrote it without a deal.
Almost on spec.
Actually on spec! I sent it to him and he was surprised but he really liked it. Things weren’t really happening, so I took a job on this show ‘Bates Motel‘ as a producer and wrote two of the scripts. And then they finally got back to me and I had to tell them I was working on a TV show. ['Bates Motel' producer] Carlton Cuse is a great guy and he just told me, “Go and make your movie.” Then I went to London and started prepping.
Once you got started, did Matthew get any more involved the production?
Matthew was the perfect producer for me because he’s a filmmaker. You need to be supported but you also need to be given the freedom to make your movie. So, he didn’t come to the set, ever, but I talked to him every day on the phone. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner in terms of support and freedom.
Was there every any concern about getting the entire cast back.
Oh yes. This isn’t a Marvel movie where they have contracts for 11 films. There was no obligation for any of them to come back. Fortunately, they really loved the script, which also helped me because there were questions about, “Who is this new guy?” But, any rumblings that I had caught went away once people read the script and then everyone was in.
When you went to try and cast Jim Carrey, did you think that would ever actually happen?
Well, Jim was my first choice. I wanted someone who could be intense and serious but also funny and physical. Someone who, you didn’t know what they were going to say or do next. And that’s a very short list of actors. If there’s someone who’s really funny, you can’t picture them in a fight, really, and if there’s someone who’s good at fighting, you can’t imagine them being very funny. Jim ticked all the boxes and is who I wanted from the very beginning. I put it out there that I wanted him and I knew he was a ‘Kick-Ass’ fan because he had been on Conan O’Brien wearing the costume. He heard that we were interested and he read the script and came with some great ideas. Some of the best lines in the movie, he brought to the set or we worked out together on the set. Like, “Try to have fun, otherwise, what’s the point?” Or like, “There’s a dog on your balls!” That was a complete Jim Carrey improv.
Have you talked to him at all since his statement on Twitter?
You know, I haven’t spoken to him. My take on it is, the reason we all love Jim Carrey is because you never know what he’s going to do or say. And that makes for truly iconic moments on screen. In real life, you really don’t know what he’s going to do or say. I respect his political beliefs and I think people should see the movie and judge for themselves.