Most people seeing Kick-Ass this weekend will have no idea who the actor in the green suit is. There’s McLovin, and there’s Nic Cage, but who’s the kid with the bushy hair and creaky voice playing the superhero? Well, if you must know (and yes, you must), his name is Aaron Johnson, and he’s been acting in his native England for years. Oh yeah, that’s another thing, he’s British, something that will surprise you once you see how seamlessly he blends into the role of slightly dorky American high schooler-turned crime fighter Dave Lizewski. To say that Johnson is nothing like his onscreen character (the kind of guy who pleasures himself to his math teacher) is a gross understatement. He wears an earring, possesses a debonair style, and swears more than anyone I’ve ever met. He’s very charming, if not a tad uncomfortable with his upcoming fame. He’s also, at 19 years old, engaged to the 42-year-old British artist Sam Taylor-Wood, who directed him in the upcoming young John Lennon biopic Nowhere Boy. Wood is expecting their first child together, a prospect that would terrify most 19-year-olds, but that has Johnson excited. Here he is on playing “a stupid kid in a costume,” the fucking brilliance of Nicolas Cage, and Rihanna’s filthy lyrics.
What’s the promotion crush leading the film’s opening been like? Last night I was on Jimmy Kimmel and then jumped on an airplane and arrived here this morning, and I haven’t fucking slept. I’m not even fucking staying in New York tonight. I’m going to Miami.
Do you like traveling? Yeah, its fucking mad.
How was Jimmy Kimmel? He set me up with so many fucking stories, fucking this story and that story.
I noticed you swear a lot. Was it hard not to swear on Kimmel? Yeah, he tries to set you up with so many fucking stories. Back at home when you do talk shows like that, when they say they’re live they really ain’t. You just film for about 30 fucking minutes and they cut it down to about five. But this they just do it and you’re like shit, I was supposed to do all this stuff. But yeah, you’re supposed to be funny but I don’t try to be, its not my thing, especially when it’s on fucking camera like that. It’s like, you just don’t do that, man.
Did the movie end up the way you imagined it when you read the script? Yeah, definitely, probably more than I expected. I don’t think you can visualize all of that in one go. It met expectations and more so. I knew it was going to be violent just because I knew Matthew Vaughn knows how to deal with British gangster movies. If he had that edge on a comic book movie, I thought it was going to be fucking interesting or sick. It’s going to be different. Straight away, Hit Girl definitely reminded me of Kill Bill and I’m a huge Tarantino fan. The thing for me, was more sort of character-based stuff. I saw a character looking for a journey, a sign in his life. He kind of gets caught up in the imagination of it all.
Did you and Matthew Vaughn share a special connection as Brits? Yeah, we did. I was in the audition and it was quite hard to even convince him that I was English because I went in as an American. I said I was from London and he said “Fuck off.”
Do you see this as your superhero role? What drew me to him was that he wasn’t the typical superhero. I liked the fact that he was original and kind of quirky, a stupid kid in a costume. What I see nowadays is kids are just so fucking insecure or conscious about what they look like. I just wanted this role to be a role where I didn’t give a fuck about that sort of thing. Because I don’t care, you have to give all that shit up and be in the moment and kind of forget about those things and be creative. I like the idea of a kid that’s this weedy kid who can’t get girls and loves tits, and doesn’t know how to fucking hold tits and shit. It’s the weirdest thing to me.
How many times have you seen the film? I’ve seen it about 8 or 9 times.
Are you sick of it? No, no. I just look at Nicholas Cage, man. It fucking blows my mind. He’s actually one of those people that’s got it down to a tee. People first were like, What the fuck? And then he grows on you. He’s a character, and you have to keep going back to him and just going “Wow, he’s actually fucking brilliant.” And then you just focus on him.
The movie is getting criticized for its portrayal of Hit Girl. The Daily Mail wrote “Pedophiles are going to adore her.” That’s fucked in the head. What about these fucking little kids that are playing with Barbie dolls and are like, That’s what I have to look like, I want to look plastic with some Barbie doll tits, and I want my mom takes me to beauty pageants.” Like, fuck. That’s just wrong. Also, don’t get me wrong, I like the Rihanna song “Rude Boy,” I just think it’s fucking disgusting. She’s actually got some fucking fans that are old enough to understand her music, and then she’s got some of them that are fucking eight years old. Their moms have their eight-year-old girls doing fucking cheerleading dances to “Come on rude boy/Can you get it up/Are you big enough/Can you take it/Take it?” Yeah, that’s what you should teach your kids. Yeah, that’s what love is, to get a hard cock up your ass.
But let’s get this straight: you do like Rihanna. Rihanna is fucking sick. I don’t want to diss her work, but what I’m saying is that fucking eight year old girls—what we’ve done is put a certificate on our film that says it’s an R-rated movie, but Rihanna is playing on the fucking radio and little girls are singing along to songs about having a cock up her ass.
After Kick-Ass, you have Nowhere Boy coming out. Which film is closer to your heart? I guess Nowhere Boy is closer in a sense, because the director is my fiancée, and I had a fantastic time with that. I like Kick-Ass too, but in a sense Nowhere Boy was a really personal, spiritual thing, and then this year we are going to bring it out in October, on John’s 70th birthday. It’s a film I’m really proud of, from many angles.
How did you prepare to play a young John Lennon? I checked every fucking thing out. He was inspired by Elvis and Buddy Holly, but the big fucking one was the Rolling Stone interview which was about an hour and forty minutes long with him and Yoko, and he is such a free-spirited person. He just says everything in I, like The Beatles were a front, and he was bitter inside, and his mother died, and he was angry and mad and we can see it in the fucking videos. He’s angry, he’s fucking aggressive. But there is also a vulnerability there.
I read somewhere that you had a fascination with Brad Pitt. Really? I mean, he’s a great actor. He’s a really cool guy, I met him and he fucking shakes your hand and gives you the fucking time. He’s incredible. Who the fuck said that?
I believe it was Interview magazine. So you’re going to be a dad soon? Yeah, that’s true.
Are you scared at all. No man, I’m excited. I’m already like a step dad to two anyway, one’s three and one’s twelve.
Are you worried that fatherhood might put a hold on your career? No, never, fuck no. I’ll be there for my kid all the time. I can’t wait to be. I think I always had it in me to be a fucking father, so it’s time, and I know I’ll be a good father.