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Aaron Johnson: Seeking mature roles

Youth Impact Report 2010: Bigscreen Kids

In less than a year, Aaron Johnson starred in two wildly different origin stories: Matthew Vaughn’s “Kick-Ass,” in which he plays a costumed vigilante who tries to prove that heroes don’t only exist in comicbooks, and “Nowhere Boy,” which imagines the teenage years of John Lennon’s life.

As daunting as the latter role might sound, Johnson says that after reading the script, he immediately understood how to play the former Beatle.

“All I had to do is just say, ‘Look, I’m not dealing with the icon yet,’ ” the actor explains. “The character was so strong on the page that I already naturally had a belief in this character. I felt like I knew this person.”

On “Kick-Ass,” the young heartthrob was actually instructed to work out less for the role. “Matthew told me to quit the gym,” he says. “I was a dancer, and I usually go to the gym quite a lot, so I had to lose weight and stop going to the gym. He wanted me to be weedy.”

Whereas most of the 20-year-old’s peers are playing younger, Johnson says he’s eager to take on more grown-up work.

“The sort of roles I am going out for are always about 10 years older than I am,” he says. “I’m not really interested in that sort of teen-angst, stupid high school virgin that can’t get a girl.”

But Johnson’s still learning, he admits.

“In ‘Kick-Ass,’ there were so many actors, and they were all really strong elements that made that film what it was,” he says. “Those fantastic performances hide my weak spots.”

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