Jackman, Margeson Share ‘Kingsman 2’ Glory

Matthew Margeson and Henry Jackman

Composers Matthew Margeson (left) and Henry Jackman photobombed by Taron Egerton from Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle. (Photo of Margeson and Jackman by Ray Costa/Costa Communications)

Composers Henry Jackman and Matthew Margeson ride the top of the box office charts this week with Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle, which mined $39 million on 4,000 screens for the weekend of Sept. 22. The 20th Century Fox action spy comedy saw the musical duo re-team with director Matthew Vaughn, with whom they worked on the 2014 Kingsman: Secret Service and earlier on Kick Ass 2 and Kick Ass. The cheeky sequel stars Taron Egerton as Eggsy, an elite super agent for British secret forces that team up with their U.S. counterparts for follow-up fun and mayhem.

The film has a fun soundtrack, courtesy music supervisor Ian Neil (head of music for film and TV at Sony Music and Vaughn-film veteran), with songs like the newly topical Elton John “Rocket Man,” Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” and the Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes’ “Don’t Leave Me This Way.” The soundtrack, on La-La Land Records, contains some surprises, like the twangy “Word Up” by Berliner cowboy band The BossHoss, and Margeson’s vocal performance for a gravelly (yet oddly listenable!) version of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” performed in-character for a death scene.

Ian Neil

Ian Neil

“For the first Kingsman, we created this world of British espionage music with the notes that we chose, the instruments we play on. For the sequel, on one hand we bring that world back, because we still have some of the main characters from the first film, and parts of the second film are in London,” Margeson explains. While the original was set primarily in England, the sequel in addition to introducing new characters transplants them to Kentucky where they encounter their American secret spy counterparts the Statesmen, who Margeson describes as “a whole entire kind of Kingsman turned upside down. The Statesman are essentially cowboys, bringing this Western element to the score really helped differentiate it from the score of the first film.”

The team tested many different instruments to come up with the right sound, including Dobros, slide guitars and lap steel guitars. “We kind of came up with this potpourri of country-western-bluegrass-Americana. And of course it is a big action film, so we injected a western orchestra into that. We had a lot of overdub sessions with some of the top country and bluegrass session people in L.A. — in the world, really — and hearing some of those guys, masters of their instruments and this idiom, of bluegrass-country music, that was a real treat.”

Margeson recounts meeting Jackman at the ubiquitous Remote Control, where he was an assistant while Jackman was writing the score to the DreamWorks 2009 animated film Monsters vs. Aliens, his first big sole composer credit. “When time started to get a bit thin, Henry had seen me in the middle of the night fixing a computer or something and asked if I could finish an arrangement for him because he hadn’t slept in a couple days and had a meeting in the morning,” Margeson remembers. “I started working with him in bits and pieces at the tail end of Monsters vs. Aliens, just kind of doing night shift in his studio for a couple of weeks. He would start writing things and I would finish them, or doing some fixes or conforming to new versions of picture.”

In 2010 he was Jackman’s assistant and musical contributor on Kick Ass, getting Universal film Skyline was the first U.S. studio release on which Margeson got sole composer credit. After Jackman did his own stint apprenticing and assisting for Hans Zimmer and other senior composers at Zimmer’s Remote Control, the British-born Jackman went on to amass 40 feature-length credits, including Wreck-It Ralph (2012), Captain America: Winter Soldier (2014), Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (2016) and Kong: Skull Island (2017).

Watch the Kingsman: The Golden Circle trailer, with music by Mark Denis and the Heavy Young Heathens cover of The Who’s “My Generation”:

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