By Patrick Dane
I’m sure you haven’t missed the hype for Guardians of the Galaxy. The film is currently getting rave reviews all across the internet. And rightly so. I’ve caught the movie twice already in the UK and there is a lot of clever filmmaking choices going on. I’ll hope to fully share my thoughts in the next few days.
Last week, I was invited out to the European première of Guardians of the Galaxy by Skype. While on the carpet, I got to talk to a ton of the people involved, getting time with James Gunn, Karen Gillan, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista and even a few words with Joss Whedon.
This isn’t the entirety of all the conversation, but I was sharing a pen with tabloid reporters. I’ve spared you the stuff about weddings, dresses and a strange aside about Irn-Bru.
Patrick Dane: The film has a lot of comedy. Did you have to keep people from laughing?
James Gunn: We didn’t keep everyone from laughing. We laughed a lot. We screwed up a lot. Including me. I screwed up a lot of takes. Chris Pratt screwed up a lot of takes. I think the only person on set who didn’t screw up takes was my brother Sean (Gunn) who played Rocket on set. He was very professional. HE doesn’t laugh. He is like Buster Keaton. But everyone else screwed up a lot of takes.
PD: Were there people on set to represent Rocket and Groot?
JG: Oh yeah, my brother Sean played Rocket (on set). A lot of the Facial expressions you see on that character were taken directly from my brother
PD: Did he mind sharing the spotlight with Bradley Cooper?
JG: He loves it. Well my brother plays Kragle in the film, he had another role. Bradley has been the most generous guy of all. Half of his interviews on the red carpet are about Sean because they worked in collaboration to create this character. And also we worked with a company called Framestore who helped develop this character with CGI. So there are a lot of people involved with this character come to life.
PD: Why was now the right time to invite the Guardians into the Marvelverse?
JG: Y’know. I think it is the right time for this movie in general. I think that there are so many movies out there that are so brooding and so dark and sometimes it gets to be this layer of darkness over a movie to make up for the fact that there is no character, there is no story. Other movies out there, it is an endless string of explosions and action sequences with no character or love in between and this is a movie that is first and foremost about the characters, it is about their relationships. It should work if it was an independent movie but we just added space battles and all the other stuff, and I think that is what people are reacting too. The heart we put into it.
PD: How did you go about crafting the narrative that all these characters follow?
JG: It is really about balancing it and making sure all those characters have an arc, a beginning a middle and an end and really taking care and loving each of them. And making sure at the screenplay stage, that when you read the script, that you can cross out the characters names and you can see how they are speaking and know exactly who that character is just from the way they speak and because there is a name above their bit of dialogue.
PD: How are the Guardians going to get into the same world with the Avengers?
JG: We will have to see. Maybe we will see a couple Guardians meet up, maybe more, we will have to figure it out.
PD: What was it like to get involved with the fighting necessary in the role?
Karen Gillen: I was covered in bruises consistently the whole time. It was a challenge for me because I’ve never done something so physical before. So I had to work out 4 times a week and do some martial arts training. I can throw a mean punch now.
PD: Was it fun playing a bad guy?
KG: It is really fun to indulge in that side of things. I’ve never played a baddie before. She is a total sadist and has men in headlocks so that is always fun.
PD: What do the Guardians add to the Marvelverse?
Joss Whedon: I think the Guardians are like the weird uncle you don’t know if you want to invite to the Wedding. I think it is great fun.
PD: Will the Guardians be mixing with the Avengers in the future?
JW: I don’t think Marvel does anything without a purpose. What is great, what we learned with the Avengers was that you could combine different tones. You can have someone who is majestic, someone who is goofy, somebody who is earnest and they all get along.
PD: Drax goes through quite an emotional journey in this film. Have you ever taken on such an arc?
Dave Bautista: No, but that was the cool thing. That was the challenge. That is what drew me too Drax. I like that kind of emotional range, that baggage he was dealing with because I needed that to really move on in my career because people had a perception of me as the WWE guy, and I need someone to give me the opportunity to break that man. I mean I left the WWE to pursue acting. I didn’t set out to be an action star, or the big pay check or the spotlight or to be a movie star. I just wanted to do acting because I loved it so much. So for someone to give me the opportunity to show a little versatility and range man, it was a blessing.
PD: How did you get to the soul of Drax?
It wasn’t hard man. The way I approached Drax was as a father and a husband. Not as a soldier, or a warrior or a maniac. I just looked at him as a father and a husband who had suffered a lot of heartbreak and I always thought about that. It is easy to get out of that mindset as the guy who is always mad, the big muscle-head who is one note, because that one note, it is boring.
PD: Would you be in an Expendables movie?
DB: Err. I hope not. I have absolutely no interest in doing an Expendables film.
PD: What was it like getting into a fight with Karen Gillan?
Zoe Saldana: It is actually harder to beat up a woman, or be beaten up by a woman than beating up a man. That is easy. I do that every day. I call it a Tuesday. No, I’ve done these before. What I always find is very encouraging and thrilling to me is when you have more than one female character in a movie, especially if they get to interact with each other. Especially if they get to beat the crap out of each other. I just think it is such an unconventional thing to see and that people love to see that more. You guys do right?
PD: Should we see more female presence in movies?
ZS: I think that there has always been a lack of female presence in the art of any sort. Art is supposed to imitate life and for some reason, women’s beauty is exposed more than the interior of a woman. Women have so many layers, just like beautiful men do. Studios like Marvel are taking that leap. They are putting female characters out there and the audiences really take to it because we are starving for it.
PD: Have you seen the Avatar 2 script?
ZS: Not yet, I’m waiting. I’m emailing him like every two weeks like, “Hey buddy, how are you doing? Just writing to say hi!”
PD: Did you break character during takes?
Chris Pratt: Oh gosh. When ever frame of film costs like $50,000, they get really pissed when you start blowing it by laughing at takes. Sometimes I couldn’t help it. It probably helped that I have a lot of practice not breaking on Parks and Recreation surrounded by such funny people, and a lot of practice keeping my cool around funny people.
PD: Are you worried about being objectified as a sexual object?
CP: Oh my God. Do you think that I’m being objectified as a sexual object? That is the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me. It feels good. No, you know, that was the culmination of a lot of work. There were times when I’d be in the gym and I’d be like, “this is really hard and I felt like quitting and I’m glad I didn’t”, because it was all for that moment. So even if it was just a few seconds, It was all worth it.
PD: Are you maintaining staying in shape?
CP: Yeah, I’m finding it easier to stay in shape because Marvel, they do it the right way. They set you up with nutritionists. They set you up with the right coaches and trainers and stuff. I actually did it the healthy way that allowed me to maintain it. Rather than crash dieting and losing a bunch of weight really quickly, slowing down your metabolism. I actually feel healthier and younger than when I started the movie.
PD: Does your wife like the change?
CP: Oh she likes abs, but she likes her fat husband better because she gets to feed him. She wants to keep me in the bedroom all fat and eating Kentucky Fried Chicken.