Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. This get a little crazy when I interview Mark Millar. I don't exactly know why... maybe it's just that I usually talk with him at Comic-Con and that place Crazytown in and of itself.
The last time was for Kick-Ass 2 and we talked very little about the actual movie and more about a potentially traumatic childhood viewing of Mary Poppins. You can click on that link above or wait around for Mark's recap of that moment to Mr. Dave Gibbons, the incredibly talented illustrator who unfortunately had to sit and bear witness to the nuthouse talk that happens when I sit down with Mr. Millar.
The interview took place at the Hard Rock Hotel, which was the site of a crazy party the night before. Millar brought up how loud it was, especially for a man with his family (and baby) in tow. That got me talking about a Comic-Con party of yesteryear and that's where we begin this chat. Ready? Let's do it.
Quint: There was a party held here one year where there were... I hesitate to call them strippers, but that's kind of what they were. They were on little stages, they had tape covering their nipples, but everything else was pretty much exposed. They were down in the courtyard and I remember looking up and seeing these five year old boys, faces pressed up against the windows, looking down in awe...
Mark Millar: (laughs) The thing is at 5 you still have fond memories. They're like, it was just four years ago... I remember breasts!
Quint: I must admit I know almost nothing about Kingsman. I haven't read the Secret Service books yet...
Mark Millar: I'll send you a PDF of it.
Quint: Great. I'm embarrassed I haven't read it yet, but I just wanted to preface this interview and say that if it sucks it's because of that. I mean, usually I have no idea what I'm talking about anyway, but now I'm extra clueless. But one thing I do know that you guys have an awesome cast and I'm really happy that you guys got Mark Hamill before he came back into vogue thanks to the new Star Wars movies.
Mark Millar: I love that. (Turns to Dave Gibbons) I don't know if I told you what happened with that. Part of the plot, which I'd actually used before, quite naughtily, in a Fantastic Four comic, is that the world is in trouble and a bunch of famous people around the world are being kidnapped and you don't know why. That's the opening scene of Secret Service and Mark Hamill is the guy I used. I wanted to do random figures, so there's this molecular biologist that has been kidnapped and Mark Hamill.
I picked Mark Hamill just because I love Mark Hamill, right? I thought, “I have to ask his permission for this. I better get around to this...” Then six months passed and I remember Dave drawing this (sequence) and I thought, “Shit! I still haven't asked for permission for this!” Then it got later and it was actually going off to the printers the next day. I don't know if you know this, actually, but Harris put in touch with Mike Richardson, who is a friend of Mark Hamill's. He's the guy who runs Dark Horse Comics. I said, “Can I get Mark Hamill's phone number? This is literally going to the printers tomorrow. I need to get his permission or else he can sue! Eight pages of the comic is all about him!”
I phoned him up and it was the weirdest call I ever made because I'm basically a stranger phoning him up and asking him if I can use him in a comic and kill him inside a few pages in a grisly death! I didn't know what kind of guy Mark was...
Quint: That probably appealed to him, actually.
Mark Millar: Right? I've met quite a lot of actors, but Mark Hamill is kind of special, isn't he? Even Harrison Ford has done Hollywood Homicide and all that. It makes him less special to me, but Mark Hamill is Luke Skywalker to me! He's the voice of the Joker, too, but to me he is Luke Skywalker.
Quint: He did do Corvette Summer, too, so you don't need to put him on too big of a pedestal.
Mark Millar: (laughs) But calling him, honestly... I remember I had to phone Stan Lee about 10 years ago and it was like phoning Galactus. The phone sat in front of me and I actually spent ten seconds, took a breath, and then phoned him. It was that way with Mark Hamill, but he couldn't have been nicer. He said, “Yeah, no problem at all.” I said, “If they ever make a film, which Matthew (Vaughn) is actually talking about doing after X-Men, then obviously there's nobody we can get to play Mark Hamill except you.” He said, “Okay, cool.”
Dave Gibbons: He was a real good sport about it. When I got the script from Mark Miller, it said “Mark Hamill sits in a Swiss chalet surrounded by armed men.” I went, “He obviously means somebody who looks a bit like Mark Hamill,” but Mark said, “No, it is Mark Hamill!” Of course, it had to be present day Mark Hamill. He's still a good looking man, but he's not young Luke Skywalker anymore, so I drew him as realistically as I could. I've had experiences with actors before where they are really picky about their likenesses, but he wasn't a problem at all. He said, “Fine, great.” He was thrilled to be in it.I didn't speak to Luke Skywalker, but I did have an email exchange and it was a huge thrill. I have since spoken to Luke... (laughs) “Luke.” I've since spoken to Mark about something else and indeed he is a prince among men, so it's fantastic he's associated with this.
Mark Millar: Everybody on set loved him as well. I think it was kind of special. I was at a Fox meeting a year or so ago and I said to Mark, “I'm going to be in town if you want to meet up for lunch.” By this point we had become email pals. Josh Trank sneaked along with me. There was no reason for him to be there, but he just wanted to have lunch with Mark Hamill! Joe Carnahan, who I was meeting that night, was furious with me. “You should have told me you were having lunch with Mark Hamill!” So, Mark Hamill is kind of special.
Dave Gibbons: Have you ever seen a movie called Sushi Girl? It's a little independent movie that he's in. It's a bit like Reservoir Dogs with raw fish. It's these people meeting after a heist, one of whom is Mark Hamill, in the basement of this club and there's this naked girl on a table covered in sushi and throughout the film she's used as the buffet. They help themselves to sushi. It was so weird to see him in that, but it showed he's a man with great range.
Quint: It's cool seeing your work being adapted by Matthew Vaughn again. You guys pair well together.
Mark Millar: It is weird. Have you ever seen a show called The Persuaders with Tony Curtis and Roger Moore? I see us very much as The Persuaders. He's the aristocratic englishman and I'm...
Dave Gibbons: The Scott!
Mark Millar: (laughs) I'm the rough Tony Curtis character. I'm from the streets!
Quint: And covered in baby vomit.
Mark Millar: (laughs) These are still the same trousers I was wearing. (To a lost Dave Gibbons) I bumped into Eric yesterday and told him on the plane... it was a horrible scene. We were sitting down in front and everybody was cooing over the baby. You know, people are pleased to see babies at first. The baby vomited breast milk and Mathilda freaked out, fell out of Lucy's arms and hit her head, got a horrible bruise, and then vomited in response. A two year old vomits like an adult! There was a lot. It was all over me. These are still the same jeans, but I tried to clean them up. It was an 11 hour flight and that was 20 minutes in. Everybody hated us. Some people bumped themselves back to economy genuinely to get away from the smell, it was that bad.
Quint: That's a brilliant way to get more personal space on a flight.
Dave Gibbons: I'm doing it now!
Mark Millar: I don't mind the smell of my own vomit, it's fine.
Quint: That's gonna be the headline now. Regarding Kingsman: “I don't mind the smell of my own vomit.” - Mark Millar.
Mark Millar: (laughs) The last interview we did, the one line that sticks in my head is me, for some reason, saying “I'm the only person who can remember the penis in Mary Poppins.” (laughs)
Dave Gibbons: There's a penis in Mary Poppins?!?
Mark Millar: No, my brother had pimped me out during the film. I was only 4 or something and a man said “I don't have any kids to watch this with? Can I have your little brother to watch this with and we can just sit and watch it together?” And my brother just passed me along for 50p or something and I sat with him and watched Mary Poppins. As far as I know I wasn't molested, I was just sitting and enjoying the movie...
Dave Gibbons: He's blacked it out!
Mark Millar: That's why I said to Eric, “Do you remember the penis in Mary Poppins?”
Quint: It was in the popcorn box! Don't you remember?
Quint: I bring out the best in Mark, as you can tell. It's either Disney dick or baby vomit when we get together. That's my time. Thank you both very much for talking with me.
Mark Millar: It was good seeing you again, Eric.
Dave Gibbons: Cheers! Thank you, I enjoyed that. (laughs)
That's one SDCC interview down and a handful more to go! But none of the other ones involve baby vomit. Sad, I know, but what can you do?
Kingsman was slated for release on October when I did this interview and has since been pushed back to February 2015. I suspect they did it so I can watch it on my birthday, so that's very nice of them. The footage shown at the Con was great and I eagerly await the finished film.