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Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Christopher Mintz-Plasse test limits in 'Kick-Ass 2'

Chloë Grace Moretz, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Chloë Grace Moretz, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Christopher Mintz-PlasseUniversal Pictures

In the action comedy “Kick-Ass 2” (the sequel to 2010’s “Kick-Ass”), self-made superhero Kick-Ass, also known as Dave Lisewski (played Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and sweet-faced, foul-mouthed assassin Hit-Girl, also known as Mindy Macready (played by Chloë Grace Moretz) try to return to life as "normal" teenagers, but soon they are faced with their deadliest challenge yet. To seek revenge for his father's death, Red Mist, also known as Chris D’Amico (played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse), has re-invented himself as the leader of an evil league of super-villains.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Christopher Mintz-Plasse at 2013 Comic-Con International in San Diego
Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Christopher Mintz-Plasse at 2013 Comic-Con International in San DiegoGetty Images

To defeat their new nemesis, Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl must team up with a new wave of masked crusaders, led by the no-nonsense Colonel Stars and Stripes (played by Jim Carrey), in this battle of real-life villains and heroes. Sneak preview footage of “Kick-Ass 2” was shown at 2013 Comic-Con International in San Diego, where stars from the movie gathered for a discussion panel. Here is what Taylor-Johnson, Mintz-Plass and Moretz (who did the Q&A by satellite in Boston) said when they were on the “Kick-Ass 2” panel.

Can you talk about how “Kick-Ass 2” is different from the first “Kick-Ass” movie?

Taylor-Johnson: I’ve been training with Hit-Girl. It’s been a natural break. It’s been four years since the first one, so physically, Chloe has changed visually. It’s a natural progression. My character hasn’t changed at all since the first one.

What did you think when you first read the “Kick-Ass 2” script?

Taylor-Johnson: It was always a conversation about, “When are we going to do the second one?” And then the comic book, the graphic novel came out. I got a call from [“Kick-Ass 2” producer] Matthew Vaughn, who said, “I’ve got someone [“Kick-Ass 2” writer/director Jeff Wadlow] who’s written a fantastic script. I’d like you to read and see what you think.”

And that was Wadlow’s script. It was a page-turner. I was just cracking up laughing. It was emotional. He took these characters to a wild journey and really complex, and took these characters to a whole new level. I was super-excited for it. I thought it would be really interesting.

And that’s when we met up, and it was super-exciting. It leaves no gap open, like, “I wonder if this character could have one this?” It’s just full and packed. Each character has a mad rollercoaster that they go on and an emotional one and a life-changing one.

Christopher, can you talk about how your character changed from a hero in “Kick-Ass” to a villain in “Kick-Ass 2”?

Mintz-Plasse: I read the script, and it was fantastically dark. I was really scared to do something this intense and nerve-wracking, But Jeff had a great acting coach in Leigh Smith. She came on board and helped me a month prior to shooting, and read every scene and every line and helped figure out what to do for the character. She came with me on set and did a good job.

Can you talk about the dark, edgy aspects to “Kick-Ass 2”?

Mintz-Plasse: First, there was the costume change. I’m wearing a gimp outfit in this movie.

Taylor-Johnson: I thought I was wearing a gimp.

Mintz-Plasse: It’s very sexual. It’s super-dark. There’s some things in the comic book which we took out for the movie, which I think was a god choice, such as murdering a dog and raping somebody, which I’m very glad I didn’t do in those two things. But other than that, it’s very dark, very intense to play.

Chloë, we see Hit-Girl reach puberty in “Kick-Ass 2,” and it seems like her hormones scare her more than criminals. Can you talk about that change to Hit-Girl?

Moretz: Yeah, that was a really big, interesting arc that Jeff had to put in the movie. Hit-Girl decides to give up her life of crime because her stepfather said, “Look, I have to take care of you.” And she was like, “I’ll trust you, because my dad told me to trust you.”

So she gets up and goes to high school. And what she kind of realizes is it that whether it’s a drug dealer on the streets or a burglar or a bad girl in school who is hating on these poor kids, she has to bring justice to the situation. And she realizes that Mindy Macready and Hit-Girl are the same person. They’re not two separate people. So there’s an interesting arc that we built in, which also can really touch young teenagers too and what they’re doing in school.

How have Hit-Girl/Mindy Macready’s relationships changed with other people?

Moretz: Years after the fact that she’s lost her father [played by Nicolas Cage, who played Big Daddy in “Kick-Ass”], all she has is herself. She knows that Marcus is taking care of her. Her really only friend in the world is Dave [Lizewski]. That’s the only person who knows who she is and knows who Hit-Girl is. That’s why they have this special bond in the beginning, because she’s still a vigilante bringing justice, and he’s kind of doing it as a Kick-Ass sort of thing. And he comes to her and wants to be trained by her.

So she starts training him. And they really do form this because of what they’ve gone through. They know each other so well. And that’s why she’s able to maneuver into growing up. It’s almost through him, in a way, to see the world in a different way.

Nic [Nicolas Cage], his presence in the movie is still very, very strong. You really do feel this looming god-like figure, which is this Big Daddy sort of thing. She’s always talking about her dad and always referencing him. He’s always there in her mind. You can really, really see that. He wrote that into the script that it’s really there with her.

For more info: "Kick-Ass 2" website