Beyond Kingsman: ‘Argylle’ Stars Henry Cavill, Bryce Dallas Howard, & Sam Rockwell Tease Groundbreaking Film

This interview has been edited for clarity.

The trailer for Matthew Vaughn’s latest film, Argylle, sets it up as a spy film with a mix of action comedy, but the comic book stylings of the trailer is a clear indicator that nothing should be taken for granted, especially when the 52-year-old is tapping on the talents of three leads who lend a unique identity to the film that the director has indicated is the beginning of something more.

Sadly, the English filmmaker of Kick-Ass and Kingsman fame could not make it (he fell sick prior to flying) to the Asia premiere of his new film in Seoul, but his cast of three – Henry Cavill, Bryce Dallas Howard and Sam Rockwell – were on hand to tease the Asian media and audience in attendance of the press conference and red carpet that Geek Culture attended. 

While the cast wasn’t ready to spoil the film, Howard noted that it was certainly apt for the premiere to take place in Seoul, Korea.  

“I really admire Korean filmmakers and the risks that they take. When you’re watching a Korean film, it’s like nothing else that you’ve ever seen. I think that it makes sense for Argylle to premiere here, because it’s an incredibly groundbreaking, unique, sensational, exciting movie that truly takes you on a ride. We’re very, very grateful to first be sharing it with Korean audiences, because this movie feels a little at home here.”

Each actor brings their own unique brand of magic to the screen as Howard, with her chameleon-like ability to transform, breathes life into Elly Conway, an author caught between the romanticised ideals of spy life and the gritty reality. Cavill, ditching his cape and sword, now sports a flattop for the ages, embodying the dashing Agent Argylle, the idealised spy on every poster, leaving audiences swooning as they navigate the film’s twists and turns. 

And for Rockwell, well, someone had to bring the soul of a smooth-talking, tap-dancing spy to Aiden Wilde, reminding audiences that the world of espionage isn’t all glamorous gadgets and watching eye-catching fireworks on city skylines.

With a cast boasting Hollywood heavyweights that also include Bryan Cranston, Catherine O’Hara, Dua Lipa, John Cena, and Samuel L. Jackson, Argylle’s ensemble cast have certainly raised questions as to what this groundbreaking franchise hopeful is actually about, though for Cavill, the premise for his involvement was basically focused on his hair, as Agent Argylle sports a rather delicious flattop. Audiences may not remember, but Cavill had a role in Vaughn’s sophomore film, Stardust, and it took the friends this long to get something up and running. 

“I’ve worked many years ago on Stardust, it was one of my first few jobs that I ever did. When he sent me the Argylle script, he said, ‘You know, I’ve got some crazy ideas. We’re giving you a flattop.’ And here we are!” said Cavill. 

But trusting Vaughn’s outlandish vision comes easily for Cavill, who admits, “He’s an extraordinary filmmaker, and a lot of fun to work with. That’s something which I’m discovering more as my career goes on, that I should be having as much fun with it as possible, as well as doing good work.” So, when Matthew offered Cavill a chance to rock a flattop and dish out action sequences as a Bond-esque spy with a weird flattop, the answer was an obvious, enthusiastic, ‘Yes’.

And he’s not the only talent with a history with Vaughn, who’s also produced over a dozen movies, including Rocketman, the biographical musical film about British musician Elton John, where Howard played his mother in the film. So she knew what to expect from the celeberated filmmaker, including groundbreaking visions and unwavering passion. 

“Matthew Vaughn’s writing started my career before I had done anything. I was thinking, wow, this filmmaker is different. I wanted to be a part of that,” said the 42-year old actress who more recently also found success as a director, helming several fan favourite episodes of the Disney+ Star Wars spin-off shows, The Mandalorian, and The Book of Boba Fett. 

As she recalls, Argylle isn’t just another film as it is also a journey fueled by the spirit of Brad Allan, the late and well-known stunt coordinator and action director who entered filmmaking as the first non-Chinese action choreographer to join Jackie Chan’s famed stunt team. He subsequently found success in Hollywood and worked with Vaughn on his Kick-Ass and the Kingsman movies but passed away at the age of 48 in 2021, from an apparent heart attack.

Action sequences, a hallmark of Vaughn’s films, are truly something to behold and a train scene in Argylle stands out for its innovative choreography and sheer exhilaration. Cavill, ever the professional, took it all in stride, even if it meant jazzing out with the dance master himself, Sam Rockwell. But as Rockwell recalls, they filmed more than what eventually made it on screen.

“Henry and I did a tap number, it was cut from the movie but we worked very hard on it. We show them for months we worked on it, learning how to tap dance on skulls,” Rockwell revealed.

“I have been humbled working on a show called Fosse/Verdon, where there were formally trained dancers like Christopher Walken. I can do a couple of shootings and stuff,” Rockwell admits, but his improvisational energy and infectious enthusiasm add a unique layer of charm to the film’s action beats. “It’s a way to stay loose, stay relaxed, to shake out the nerves that come sometimes.”

Beyond the thrills and spills, Argylle delves into the hearts and minds of its characters. Cavill, channeling the essence of Cary Grant and the suave James Bond swagger, masterfully navigates the delicate balance between humour and pathos that Agent Argylle demands. 

As for Rockwell, he sees a bit of Han Solo mixed with iconic Albert Brooks humour in his character, Aiden, a charming rogue with a hidden depth that adds intrigue to the story.

Of course, no discussion of Argylle would be complete without mentioning the film’s scene-stealing feline, Alfie. Matthew Vaughn’s own cat, Chip, brought a touch of warmth and sweetness to the set. 

“Every day, Matthew would show up on set, absolutely covered in fur, because he was willing to bring Chip all the way to work,” Howard fondly recalls, “Matthew is incredibly protective of Chip and loves him to death.”

With Matthew Vaughn already hinting at two potential sequels, the future of Argylle looks bright, and it looks as if one of the stars is waiting for the call for a proper sequel. “When that does come about, I am going to be very excited about it. I have a very good idea about what that story is about. I look forward to working back again,” smiles Cavill.

Howard echoes this sentiment, emphasising that the more audiences embrace such original ventures, the more studios will be encouraged to take risks and push boundaries. 

“It has everything to do with how folks respond to this movie. The more that folks can support original filmmaking movies that are doing something different and unexpected, showing up in the theaters opening weekend, that sends a message.”

“If you want more, there’s more that Argylle has to offer.”

Argylle opens in cinemas on 1 February 2024.