KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE
A Poppy Grows
Every hero is only as strong as their villain, of course. And in The Golden
Circle, that conflict comes from the introduction of Poppy Adams, a drug dealer
who, as head of the mysterious Golden Circle criminal enterprise, sets in place
a nefarious plan that sets her on a collision course with Eggsy. For Vaughn, the
villain's plot was of paramount importance.
"One morning I woke up with the whole storyline in place," he recalls. "I was
worried about the villain. It's really hard to come up with a villain plot that
doesn't seem silly, and that's relevant, and that's believable." In the first
movie, Valentine's scheme to reduce the world's population significantly, and
thus ease the burden on the environment, by transmitting a signal that caused
people to give into homicidal urges may have been utterly insidious, but came
from a vaguely well-meaning place. "Valentine's plot made sense, and the
environment is a problem," adds Vaughn. "Poppy's plot, I guarantee people will
be debating. Is she right? Is she wrong? Her aspirations make sense, but her
method of making that happen really isn't very nice!"
For the role, Vaughn and Goldman were keen to once again bring the audience
something they hadn't seen before, so reached out to Moore to play Poppy (via
Colin Firth, with whom she had worked previously). "I loved the first one, I
thought it was wildly inventive and funny," says Moore. Clinging to dreams of
her homeland, Poppy has taken over an ancient ruin in Southeast Asia and
ploughed some of her vast fortune into building Poppyland, a villain's
lair-cum-theme park complete with all things Americana - including a beauty
salon, a bowling alley, a concert hall, and a lavish diner that doubles as her
office, dominated by a shiny and terribly sinister mincing machine. "She's very
interested in American pop culture and misses it," adds Moore. "Everything in
her world is there to satisfy her need to be at home."
Vaughn's fondness for practical, old-school stunts, effects and sets meant that
Poppyland had to be built for real at Longcross Studios, just outside London.
"That was a fully made interior/exterior set," says producer Adam Bohling of the
astonishing set, described by fellow producer David Reid as "Cambodia, just off
The Poppyland set was overseen by the film's production designer, Darren Gilford
and his art director, Joe Howard. "He basically lived there for five months,"
laughs Gilford. "Every detail was under his supervision. Poppyland was so much
fun to think about. Matthew wanted something that would frame Poppy in a cross
between Vegas and Disneyland, but built into a crazy old ruin. What would Poppy
want in terms of her businesses? So we did a bowling alley, a beauty salon, a
hotdog shop. All of these whimsical fun things. She wants to build a piece of
Americana in her prison, so we mashed in the Martha Stewart vibe."
Vaughn describes Poppy, an ex-pat who is unable to return to the United States
for legal, and very illegal, reasons, as "America's sweetheart gone very wrong".
Moore elaborates: "There's something very human and appealing and approachable
about her. But she's still very much a villain. She's a funny character but
clearly a sociopath. Being able to play that duality, so she's nothing like a
moustache-twirling villain and has some charm, was really intriguing."
When it came to designing a look for Poppy, Moore worked closely with Arianne
Phillips, returning as costume designer from the first movie. "Arianne is
awesome," says Moore. "Matthew wanted a very classic American ladylike look, and
Arianne and I wanted to make it timeless. Her look is so American and appealing
and ladylike." Not giving any hint of what lies underneath, which was very
deliberate on Phillips' part. "I wanted her to be very vibrant in colour," she
explains. And Poppy's colour, which is splashed all over Poppyland, is
predominantly red. "She has an American optimism, and a friendly demeanour. As
evil as she is, she's likeable and all smiles. I wanted to create that
juxtaposition in her costume."
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