Interview: Christopher Mintz-Plasse on ‘Kick-Ass 2’ and Career Choices

By July 26, 2013


Christopher Mintz-Plasse is at a crossroads of sorts. Although he found enormous success as McLovin in Superbad, which led to numerous other comedic roles, he now faces an important professional and personal quandary – stick with what he’s done, or branch out into other directions? Remarkably, however, by doing the former, he may earn the chance to achieve the latter: reprising his role as Chris D’Amico in Kick-Ass 2, he ventures into significantly darker territory as the character transforms his pain into anger, and becomes a formidable villain with an equally intimidating name – The Motherfucker. That the character goes through such a significant transformation can only highlight his versatility, not to mention his commitment to exploring the depths of his characters.

GeekNation sat down with Mintz-Plasse at Comic-Con to talk about about Kick-Ass 2, which he’d appeared in Hall H the previous day to promote. In addition to talking about the film’s evolution from its predecessor, Mintz-Plasse revealed details about his character’s arc, and talked about the challenge – and opportunity – he hopes to explore as he ventures into uncharted territory for himself as an actor.

What do you think of as the essence of this character, or the arc that he goes through in this film?

In the first one, he’s a kid that doesn’t really know where he belongs. He becomes Red Mist, then he becomes Kick-Ass’s sidekick and he loves that world, because he can be someone who he isn’t. But then he also is looking to get respect from his father, so he’s torn between the good and the bad guy, and at the end of the first one when his father dies, I think that honestly transforms his mind – as it would transform anyone’s mind if their father got killed. Where he leaves, it just starts in the second one as pure revenge and pure hatred for Kick-Ass for killing his father, and then he loses his mother as well, so he has no family to turn on. And when you have no family to turn on, you have nothing to live for – it’s like The Punisher, where he has nothing to live for. And that’s kind of the inspiration I took, where it was like, he can go so dark because he has no one to live for. But it was crazy – crazy fun.

What does Jeff Wadlow bring to Kick-Ass that distinguishes him from Matthew Vaughn’s take on the characters and their world?

Well, Matthew set the whole ground for Kick-Ass. But Jeff was so good at [addressing] that there’s a lot of people that didn’t see the first one that are going to see this one, so he was really good at putting elements of the first one [in this]. Like the first 15 minutes of Kick-Ass 2, it’s almost like a recap of the first Kick-Ass, which is really smart because so many people haven’t seen it. So they’re going to go and they’re going to understand that world more. But Jeff knows that everyone’s seen Kick-Ass and Hit Girl and Red Mist in that light, so he wrote all three of those characters such different arcs [than in the first movie]. I become The Motherfucker, who’s super evil. Hit Girl, she becomes a little woman – she goes to high school and starts making friends with other girls, and starts liking boys. Aaron is almost kind of the same, but he wrote these amazing arcs for these characters that the fans haven’t seen.

How tough is it to balance that gravitas with the comedy that has become a hallmark of these characters?

Well, Jeff [Wadlow], I think that comes down to his script. And he put so much great humor and great jokes in there that I didn’t feel like I had to be funny; it felt like the lines were just funny, and if you delivered them in a serious way, they were going to be funny. So I didn’t feel like I had to be jokey or anything like that.

Chloe was so iconic in the first movie.

Iconic! She’s the best.

How much do you just sort of get out of the way when she’s doing her thing?

I would get out of the way any day for her, man. She can take all of the limelight. She’s amazing.

How much do you two interact?

I’m only in one scene with her. It was a bummer because on the first movie we grew so close, we were in a lot of it together. We were living in London for three months, so we were hanging out all of the time. And in this one I was doing the TV show, and then I’d come to London and then immediately when I was done I would go back to LA. So I wouldn’t have time to hang out with Chloe and Aaron – which is a bummer. That’s why I loved the first one. But Chloe and I have been in communication this whole year doing press, and we’re going to London and Berlin together. So yeah, we’re going to do well.


In the last five or six years, how do you feel like you’ve refined your comedic sensibility?

I think it’s all about comfortability with who you’re working with. I’ve been very, very lucky to work with such funny people, and surround myself with funny people. So when I’m on set, if I’m not funny, they are, and they make me look good. So I feel very lucky. I just shot a movie called Townies with Dave Franco, Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Jerrod Carmichael, who are such funny people – and when you’re so comfortable around a group like that, it’s hard not to be funny.

Do you prefer the more broad and transformative comedic performances, or something that’s more grounded and realistic?

What I loved about what I just did is that the sitcom is such high energy – I’d never done a sitcom before. The acting is a completely different thing – it was such a beast, and so hard. And to do that which is a different style of acting, and to jump to Kick-Ass, which was so dark, and then to jump to Townies which was so broad and so funny, I don’t think I could pick what I liked more. I think I’m very lucky to do them all, but I think next I would like to try something like The Way, Way Back, something that’s like real low-key – just a little indie – and kind of take a breather from all of the comedy and action and stuff. It would be nice.

How difficult is it to find those creative challenges that are departures from what you’ve done before?

Superbad was my first movie, and I was really finding myself as an actor – I’d done theatre since I was eight years old, so I’ve known acting, but it was such a different beast to get into movies. So I think I was so comfortable in Superbad that I wanted to do comedies like that – not the same character, but the same vibe, just be funny and loose and really find myself as an actor. I think now I’m starting to feel like I can explore different boundaries and do movies like Kick-Ass 2, and hopefully someone sees this and likes it and then offers me something, like a more dramatic piece, that would be really fun. So I think right now I’m starting to feel comfortable in my skin as an actor.

How aggressively are you choosing projects that are sort of diametrically opposed to that – something purely dramatic, for instance?

I would love to. I was definitely frightened of that, because who’s going to want to see me in that kind of movie — and can I do it? And now I’ve got this acting coach who’s so amazing and gives me so much confidence that I’ve already been telling my manager to send me those scripts.

I was thinking about the actor who plays Joffrey on “Game of Thrones,” who’s great, but I’m not sure I want to see him in anything else—

Yeah, I’m sure people had that thought with me and McLovin.

How tough is it to find people who are receptive to you trying new things, professionally speaking?

I think that’s going to happen all of the time. There’s going to be people that know me as Christopher Mintz-Plasse, then there’s going to be people that only think of me as McLovin – and there’s no stopping that. I’ve got to do it for myself, and if people want to keep giving me movies, and I’m so lucky that they do, then I want to just keep challenging myself.

Kick-Ass 2 hits theaters on August 16th, 2013.

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Todd Gilchrist is a film critic with more than ten years of experience working in Los Angeles. A member of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, Todd has contributed to a wide variety of print and online outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, Variety, The Playlist, MTV Movies, and IGN.