Every even moderately successful film — which would include “Kick-Ass,” which underperformed back in 2010 — gets a sequel. But for the film’s young stars, doing the second one had to be about more than chasing dollars.
“We had to find a reason to even come back here,” says Chloe Moretz, who returns as the 15-year-old purple-haired vigilante Hit Girl.
“What did we not see in the first film that we should see in the second? You saw Hit-Girl but you never saw Mindy Macready [her real self]. You never saw the girl behind the mask.”
In the film, Hit-Girl/Macready, whose father (Nicolas Cage) died late in the first, is forced to ditch her persona by her new guardian (Morris Chestnutt) and actually start going to school. Her new issues involve no longer being sure who she is.
“She watched her father burn in front of her and held him in his last moment,” Moretz explains. “But she doesn’t have anyone looking out for her except [Chestnutt’s character] — and he’s a cop, the opposite of who she is. She doesn’t know what she’s doing.”
For Aaron Taylor-Johnson, reprising the titular role of the high schooler who starts a trend toward regular people dressing up as makeshift crime-fighters, the challenges were returning to any character at all.
“I like to do a character, erase it and go do something else,” he says. “To go back to something and try to make it feel like the same person is a lot harder than it seems. Just getting back to that personality, the essence of that character — it did mess with my head a little bit.”
Taylor-Johnson has changed dramatically in the last three years. For one he has a new compound surname: He took the name of his wife, filmmaker Sam Taylor, who directed him as John Lennon in “Nowhere Boy.” They now have two kids. Playing a teenager again proved odd, although not as difficult as the horseplay.
“There’s a lot more fight scenes in this movie,” he says. “I did more training: MMA, boxing, things like that. You just naturally wind up getting properly into shape. Then I’d go onto set and Chloe would kick the s— out of me.”
The same difficulties plagued Moretz, particularly a one-on-one with a movie-stealing Amazonian baddie named Mother Russia (Olga Kurkulina). “We wanted it to be realistic — seeing how much she could fight back. How could this tiny little martial artist crazy whiny girl realistically fight back without being killed?” Moretz asks. “Obviously we fudged a lot of stuff. She isn’t a superhero. She’s a 15-year-old girl.”
The toughest scene
“I think the scene I got most beat up during was with the van,” Moretz explains. “The hydraulics in the car were shaking so much that my rib cage was purple and blue. At one point they whipped too hard and I went sideways and the door shoved in. I couldn’t breathe,” she says — with a laugh.