As you may have already heard, this weekend’s cumbersomely titled action-comedy Kingsman: The Secret Service has a climactic sequence that is literally mind-blowing. For narrative reasons that are difficult to summarize, there’s a slow-motion montage near the end in which President Obama’s skull explodes. (He’s not alone — many of the world’s political leaders get the same treatment.) It’s the second time we see him in the movie, and although he’s never named and we never see his face, it’s very obvious whom we’re supposed to think he is. The death isn’t quite as gruesome as the infamous Kim Jong-un face-melting scene from last year’s The Interview, but it’s still likely to cause a bit of a furor. We caught up with Kingsman’s cast and crew to ask what they thought of the presidential head-combustion.
What was it like filming the scene when President Obama’s head explodes?
Colin Firth: Well, I wasn’t there for the actual explosion.
Too bad. I mean, watching something like that in person must be surreal.
Indeed. But it’s not only President Obama, if it is indeed President Obama.
Are you saying that trickery was involved? Perhaps it’s someone else?
[Laughs.] Not exactly. I just think we’re going more for the mischievous hint that it’s him. And when that scene happens, it’s a big deal. It’s basically the whole of the Establishment.
It sounds like you don’t want to single out President Obama.
Exactly. It’s such an entertaining scene, because it feels like we’re making mischief wherever we can find it. And let’s not forget that the Swedish prime minister’s head blows up, too. Also, I think pretty much every rich person at the cocktail party is a goner. [Note: Much of the last third of the movie takes place at a top-secret cocktail party for the world’s rich and powerful.]
That’s a lot of violence.
Yes, it’s a moment of mayhem.
So, I’ve been asking people about the scene with President Obama …
Jack Davenport: Oh yes, the big explosion.
You weren’t in that scene, but what were your thoughts when you watched it?
I’m not really into violence, and that’s why I loved making this movie. The violence is gleefully absurd.
That’s a fair point.
Yeah, I mean, it’s the president, so we’re not taking ourselves seriously. But, I feel like spy movies have been missing the absurd angle for a while.
What was your reaction watching President Obama’s head explode on the big screen? Did it shock you?
Sophie Cookson: Watching it as an audience member, I mean, it’s just totally bonkers. That scene is so unique. It’s like nothing that I’ve ever seen before.
You knew it was happening, right?
Yes, I read it in the script, but watching it was quite unreal. I mean, I knew that it was coming, but it still surprised me.
It’s just so beautiful, and it’s highly artistic. I was kind of bracing for blood or something horrific, and it’s not that way at all. It’s beautiful.
What was your reaction to President Obama’s head exploding in the movie?
Sofia Boutella: I wasn’t in that scene, but I thought it was fun. This is a big action movie, so we went over the top.
It’s a bit of a spectacle?
In a good way.
What do you think about the scene when President Obama’s head explodes?
David Gibbons (the illustrator of the comics series the film was based on): You just have to laugh. It reminded me of when I was a kid watching the Road Runner cartoon. And the first time I watched the film, it was a rough cut without any exploding heads.
Interesting. So, which way do you like the film? Heads intact or explosions?