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Exclusive Interview : Aaron Johnson

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Colin Firth has ”Pride and Prejudice” to thank for his career; Hugh Grant has ”Four Weddings & Funeral” to be thankful for. The latest cinematic sensation from Queen’s Country, 18-year-old Aaron Johnson, will perpetually be grateful to Gurinder Chadha and her sweet coming-of-age tale ”Angus, Thongs and Snogging”.

The English actor, in Australia to promote the film, says he owes his career to the movie – a career that now includes a starring role in a new Nicolas Cage film.

After plugging ”Angus”, Johnson boards a plane for Toronto where he starts filming ”Kick-Ass”, a highly anticipated new comic-book actioner, in which he plays the lead role of a highschool dork who decides to become a superhero despite the fact he has now super powers to speak of.

Johnson’s understandably anxious and even more palpably, quite exhausted, by recent developments – like winning the role of the nerdy Dave in ”Kick-Ass”.

“Next week I’ll be in Toronto. I’m still trying to get my head around it. I just came back from New York actually where I was doing an independent film. I’ve gone from one side of the world to the other. My head is going crazy”, he says. “I woke up this morning and said ‘Where am I?’ I looked out the window and saw the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge and I’m like ‘Wow! How did I end up in Australia?’ Have you ever seen that film Jumper? It’s like I’m in Jumper!”

Johnson says all this has happened rather quickly. “At the beginning of the year you have like five bucks on you, or you’re waiting for something to come out. It’s really nice that things have picked up a bit. And it’s really nice to travel with your work”.

Johnson says he just happened to be in L.A, showing producers his work in Angus, when they were “recasting” the lead role in Kick-Ass.

“It was real good timing. They were just doing the final recast for the lead and I got it. I don’t quite know what happened – it’s all a bit of a blur to me”.

His fee may soon augment and the movies are definitely getting bigger, but ”Angus, Thongs and Snogging” will always have a special place in Johnson’s heart. The actor said he’s very proud of the film and will remain so – even after he gets his star on the Hollywood walk of fame.

One thing he’s had trouble getting across to people is that it’s not – contrary to the title – a fluffy teen comedy.

“It’s a real-life movie – something very natural. It’s got all these events in it that everyone can relate to or familiarize with – the first time situations, like when you were back in school, having your first kiss and so on – it plays real”.

The movie is a coming of age story, following 14-year-old Georgia Nicolson (Georgia Groome) as she tries to get a boyfriend (she has her sights set on dreamboy Robbie, played by Johnson) and throw the greatest 15th birthday party ever, while trying to keep her parents happy.

“It tackles real issues – stuff we all go through. My character has just moved to town and he comes from a broken family, and Georgia’s character is worried her parents are about to get a divorce. It’s rare to see a film at the moment that makes you laugh and makes you cringe and makes you happy and makes you sad – it strikes a lot of chords.”

Unlike a lot of the teen movies that Hollywood makes (“Where everything is made so over-the-top!” says Johnson) this one has the audacity – how could they!? – to cast 15-year-olds as 15-year-olds!

“[Hollywood] always casts twenty year olds to play teenagers. We’re all at the right age”, says Johnson. “Georgia [Groome] really grew up throughout the film – at the start of the film she’s a young girl, by the end of it she’s a young woman.”

Johnson says he’s not a thing like his character, “Sex God” Robbie.

“Robbie’s like this really cool band-playing guy. I’m not this cool dream boy type”, he says. “I’m quite a genuine, caring guy but I’m more the guy-next-door”.

And unlike Robbie, Johnson doesn’t play an instrument.

“I wish I could”, says the amiable actor, adding that he had to fake it for the film. “I had to sing along to the music that [the band] recorded.”

That wasn’t anywhere near as hard as working with his feline co-star though.

“There were two cats. There’s one that looks like Angus, the one on the poster, and there’s another that’s just really crazy. That’s the one that does all the stunts – and all the scratching. For about a week we had scratches all over us.”

Johnson also has a rather passionate kiss in the movie. Was he worried about that? Not at all! It was easy compared to what he’s had to do in other films.

“My first kissing scene was when I was like 13. My first sex scene was when I was like 16 – with Kate Ashfield, who played Simon Pegg’s girlfriend in Shaun of the Dead. She was like 32. That was a great job that one. That was good fun!”

Next up is that knee-trembling first meet with Nicolas Cage for ”Kick-Ass”.

“In two days I see him. I hope I’m going to be awake through the rehearsal”, he laughs. “Or I’ll probably be just watching him in awe – – and nod off”.

Johnson says his character doesn’t do a lot of stunts in the film, but most of his co-stars have been doing fight training.

“There’s a younger girl in it. Her and Nicolas Cage do a lot of the fighting. I don’t do much fighting – I get my faced kicked in a lot though. She goes around with a samurai sword cutting people’s heads off. It’s very violent obviously. It’s going to be quite a crazy one. I play an American comic book nerd so it’s very different from the sex god roles”.

After that, Johnson may return to play Robbie in a sequel to ”Angus, Thongs & Snogging”.

“This film is based on the first two books, so if they did a sequel it’ll be based on the third and fourth. There are ideas for the sequel. They’re thinking of doing one. We’ll see how [this one] goes”.

– CLINT MORRIS

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About Caffeinated Clint

The writer/publicist/producer who wears the editor hat on Moviehole. Favorite films include "Say Anything...", "The Hunt for Red October", "Jerry Maguire", "Almost Famous", "Die Hard", "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo", "Young Guns", "American Psycho", "Back to the Future" and the "Star Wars" series.
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