KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE
Enter The Statesmen
The Golden Circle begins with a huge shock: a devastating attack is launched on
the organisation. "It puts Eggsy in a position where he has to go out, spread
his wings, and meet other people," explains Vaughn of this epoch-shaking moment.
"I didn't feel I had to blow up Kingsman, it was just the natural thing to do."
After the attack, Eggsy teams up with Merlin - who appears to be the only other
survivor - to investigate the circumstances behind it. The Kingsman's 'Doomsday
Protocal' leads them to Kentucky, where they discover that Kingsman isn't the
only name in international espionage. Welcome to the lavishly-funded
all-American organisation, Statesman.
"They're the American equivalent to the Kingsmen, and now they have to work
together," explains Vaughn. "American and English share a language, but we're
very different culturally. I wanted to riff on the special relationship. What
people loved about Kingsman: The Secret Service was seeing Colin Firth and Taron
Egerton's different worlds colliding, and I wanted to continue that with the
American world colliding with ours."
Vaughn and Goldman conceived of the Statesmen as self-made billionaires whose
foray into the bourbon business had given them immense wealth and the
wherewithal to build incredible gadgets and weapons, on a scale beyond even the
Kingsmen. But where Kingsman is all about style and sophistication, Statesman
embraces all out Americana. "I used to love cowboy movies as a kid," says
Vaughn. "I thought they were amazingly cool characters, and wanted to have some
fun with Americana. So where we had an action sequence with an umbrella in the
first Kingsman, here I wanted to do an action sequence with a lasso. We've given
them whips that are cool as hell, and six-shooters which we've altered to make
Where Kingsman operates - or operated - out of a Savile Row tailor's shop, a
discreet and elegant front befitting of a discreet and elegant organisation, the
Statesman HQ is a very different, much larger, and brasher kettle of fish. It's
a giant whiskey distillery in the heart of Kentucky - another huge challenge for
production designer, Darren Gilford. "Matthew was definitely looking for an
American sensibility to steer that," says Gilford, who also had to build the
Statesmen's grand private plane. "We started doing research into Southern
culture. That was the fabric we started to grow everything from for Statesmen.
So with the distillery, there's no hint of the spy organisation above ground.
Below ground, we wanted to carry that same bourbon culture into a spy lab, which
was really fun."
Vaughn worked closely with Arianne Phillips to carve out a distinctive look for
the Statesmen. As Halle Berry notes wryly, "They don't go to the same tailors."
That thought was uppermost on Phillips' mind. "I thought of what was
quintessentially American," she says. "Denim was a no-brainer, and cowboy boots.
There's a rogue cowboy Americana feel, and yet there's similar tailoring to the
Kingsmen. Different fabrics, but you can see the subtle connection that binds
the two worlds."
Although Statesman is a large organisation, the chief agents encountered by
Eggsy and Merlin are: Champagne (Jeff Bridges), Tequila (Channing Tatum), Ginger
Ale (Halle Berry) and Whiskey (Pedro Pascal). "All of the secret agents at
Statesman happen to look like Hollywood A-listers," laughs Egerton. "It's very
The first Statesman we meet is Tatum's Tequila, a swaggering spy who quickly
gains the upper hand on the two British interlopers. "He's one of the younger
Statesmen, experience-wise," says Tatum of his character. "And definitely the
problem child." Tatum was Vaughn and Goldman's first choice for the role.
"Channing is enormous fun," says Jane Goldman. "He has such great physicality."
Berry's Ginger Ale is the team's tech guru, the equivalent of Merlin in many
ways. "I've never played a techy, cerebral character like this before," says the
Oscar-winning actress. "And there's more to Ginger than meets the eye. And I
think she can be deadly."
As Champ (short for Champagne, which he thinks is "too frilly"), the experienced
leader of the organisation, Vaughn turned to the great Jeff Bridges. No stranger
to playing cowboys over the years, Bridges drew upon memories both of his
father, Lloyd Bridges, and previous characters like Wild Bill Hickok for the
role. "Champ can be laconic at times, and quite tense as well," says Bridges.
"And he loves his booze, that's for sure. He really enjoys his job heading this
organisation with these brilliant people - that fondness for play and work is
something I observed in my father."
The Statesman we, and Eggsy, spend most time with is Agent Whiskey, played by
former Game Of Thrones star Pedro Pascal. "The relationship with Whiskey is
fantastic," says Egerton. "Eggsy is craving Harry's fatherly guidance, and
Whiskey begins to step into that role a little bit. But he's a younger man, a
rogue, a bit of a lothario and it's not quite as wholesome as he would expect
Just as Harry Hart was inspired by David Niven, Vaughn had a very specific set
of references in mind when creating Agent Whiskey. "I would describe him as the
Marlboro Man sprinkled with James Coburn and Burt Reynolds," says the director.
"He's got swagger. He has that Reynolds vibe. When was the last time we saw that
Burt Reynolds-type character, with the smile and the cowboy hat and the
moustache? Then Pedro walked into my life and I thought, 'I've found him'."
Pascal, best known for playing The Red Viper on the HBO's, Game Of Thrones, came
on board after a phone call with Vaughn, who outlined his vision for the
character. He confesses that he was attracted by Whiskey's roguishness. He's a
man who, somewhat aptly, lives his life perpetually on the rocks. "Jack has a
very practical logic," he says. "Seize the day and seize any opportunity to
enjoy oneself. I wouldn't call that sleazy. I'd call it smart. It's just
important for him to have a really good time."
One thing that unites all the actors who play Statesmen is a fondness for
Kingsman: The Secret Service. "I jumped at the chance," admits Bridges. "I
thought, that would be a fun party to attend." Pascal talks fondly of arriving
in London to find that the original movie has become something of a national
treasure. "You talk to people and they just absolutely love Kingsman," he
laughs. "They'd be like, 'what are you doing in London?' I'd say, 'I'm shooting
a sequence for Kingsman' and they'd be like, 'OH MY GOD! I LOVE THAT MOVIE!"'
As for Tatum, he admits to being blown away by the first movie. "It turned the
genre on its ear," he says. "Matthew says, 'there are no rules. As soon as you
make a rule, you break it.' And that's a special tone to hit..."
And when it comes to breaking the rules...
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