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 Queenâ€™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 â€“ 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.
Johnsonâ€™s understandably anxious and even more palpably, quite exhausted, by recent developments â€“ like winning the role of the nerdy Dave in ”Kick-Ass”.
â€œNext week Iâ€™ll be in Toronto. Iâ€™m still trying to get my head around it. I just came back from New York actually where I was doing an independent film. Iâ€™ve gone from one side of the world to the other. My head is going crazyâ€, he says. â€œI woke up this morning and said â€˜Where am I?â€™ I looked out the window and saw the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge and Iâ€™m like â€˜Wow! How did I end up in Australia?â€™ Have you ever seen that film Jumper? Itâ€™s like Iâ€™m in Jumper!â€
Johnson says all this has happened rather quickly. â€œAt the beginning of the year you have like five bucks on you, or youâ€™re waiting for something to come out. Itâ€™s really nice that things have picked up a bit. And itâ€™s really nice to travel with your workâ€.
Johnson says he just happened to be in L.A, showing producers his work in Angus, when they were â€œrecastingâ€ the lead role in Kick-Ass.
â€œIt was real good timing. They were just doing the final recast for the lead and I got it. I donâ€™t quite know what happened â€“ itâ€™s all a bit of a blur to meâ€.
His fee may soon augment and the movies are definitely getting bigger, but ”Angus, Thongs and Snogging” will always have a special place in Johnsonâ€™s heart. The actor said heâ€™s very proud of the film and will remain so â€“ even after he gets his star on the Hollywood walk of fame.
One thing heâ€™s had trouble getting across to people is that itâ€™s not â€“ contrary to the title â€“ a fluffy teen comedy.
â€œItâ€™s a real-life movie – something very natural. Itâ€™s got all these events in it that everyone can relate to or familiarize with â€“ the first time situations, like when you were back in school, having your first kiss and so on â€“ it plays realâ€.
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.
â€œIt tackles real issues â€“ stuff we all go through. My character has just moved to town and he comes from a broken family, and Georgiaâ€™s character is worried her parents are about to get a divorce. Itâ€™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 â€“ it strikes a lot of chords.â€
Unlike a lot of the teen movies that Hollywood makes (â€œWhere everything is made so over-the-top!â€ says Johnson) this one has the audacity – how could they!? â€“ to cast 15-year-olds as 15-year-olds!
â€œ[Hollywood] always casts twenty year olds to play teenagers. Weâ€™re all at the right ageâ€, says Johnson. â€œGeorgia [Groome] really grew up throughout the film â€“ at the start of the film sheâ€™s a young girl, by the end of it sheâ€™s a young woman.â€
Johnson says heâ€™s not a thing like his character, â€œSex Godâ€ Robbie.
â€œRobbieâ€™s like this really cool band-playing guy. Iâ€™m not this cool dream boy typeâ€, he says. â€œIâ€™m quite a genuine, caring guy but Iâ€™m more the guy-next-doorâ€.
And unlike Robbie, Johnson doesnâ€™t play an instrument.
â€œI wish I couldâ€, says the amiable actor, adding that he had to fake it for the film. â€œI had to sing along to the music that [the band] recorded.â€
That wasnâ€™t anywhere near as hard as working with his feline co-star though.
â€œThere were two cats. Thereâ€™s one that looks like Angus, the one on the poster, and thereâ€™s another thatâ€™s just really crazy. Thatâ€™s the one that does all the stunts â€“ and all the scratching. For about a week we had scratches all over us.â€
Johnson also has a rather passionate kiss in the movie. Was he worried about that? Not at all! It was easy compared to what heâ€™s had to do in other films.
â€œMy first kissing scene was when I was like 13. My first sex scene was when I was like 16 â€“ with Kate Ashfield, who played Simon Peggâ€™s girlfriend in Shaun of the Dead. She was like 32. That was a great job that one. That was good fun!â€
Next up is that knee-trembling first meet with Nicolas Cage for ”Kick-Ass”.
â€œIn two days I see him. I hope Iâ€™m going to be awake through the rehearsalâ€, he laughs. â€œOr Iâ€™ll probably be just watching him in awe – - and nod offâ€.
Johnson says his character doesnâ€™t do a lot of stunts in the film, but most of his co-stars have been doing fight training.
â€œThereâ€™s a younger girl in it. Her and Nicolas Cage do a lot of the fighting. I donâ€™t do much fighting â€“ I get my faced kicked in a lot though. She goes around with a samurai sword cutting peopleâ€™s heads off. Itâ€™s very violent obviously. Itâ€™s going to be quite a crazy one. I play an American comic book nerd so itâ€™s very different from the sex god rolesâ€.
After that, Johnson may return to play Robbie in a sequel to ”Angus, Thongs & Snogging”.
â€œThis film is based on the first two books, so if they did a sequel itâ€™ll be based on the third and fourth. There are ideas for the sequel. Theyâ€™re thinking of doing one. Weâ€™ll see how [this one] goesâ€.
- CLINT MORRIS