The Guardians of the Galaxy are saving the cosmos again, in the sequel (aptly titled “Vol. 2”) to the original 2014 Marvel smash hit. HS Insider was at the press conference to find out more about the behind-the-scenes action on set.
In addition to Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) and Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), there seems to be a new hero in the mix: “The Hateful Eight”’s Hangman himself, Kurt Russell, who claims to be Peter Quill’s dad. Pratt promised himself not to “geek out” when he first met Russell, but he thought it would be inauthentic if he did not.
“If I don’t acknowledge the fact that how much I love him and what a fan I am, if you don’t get that out-of-the-way, then it feels a little inauthentic. So I think I did that immediately,” said Pratt. “At that point, you move forward and there’s this really cool thing that is probably the one thing I never would’ve imagined looking for when I first moved to Hollywood, but like the greatest, the greatest part of it, the biggest secret is that you become somebody’s friend rather than a fan. And that’s really nice, and I think Kurt and I have become friends. We connected on a lot of things outside of just the movie. And you know, I have his cell phone number and I’ll give it to each and every one of you.”
Alas, the room full of journalists did not get Russell’s number. We did, however, get director James Gunn’s take on working with the Hollywood legend. Gunn compared his experience directing Russell to “wrestling with a playful bear every day on set,” whereas working with Michael Rooker who plays Yondu was more like “trying to taze a badger… One is a lot more pleasant than the other,” clarified Gunn.
That’s not to say Rooker didn’t deliver a stunning performance as blue leader of the Ravagers. Even his wordless opening scene in the middle of a garish, colorful, interplanetary red light district said so much about his character, explained Pratt.
“Yondu is shirtless. He’s essentially naked, and really vulnerable… And there’s this look on his face, he never says a word, but you feel his pain. You know that he’s hurting inside, you know that he’s lonely and you know that he’s vulnerable, and then immediately you cut to him walking, fully clothed with his Ravagers behind him and this sense of power,” reflected Pratt. “But because you saw him naked, you know what’s going on inside of his mind, and that pathos carries the entire arc for Yondu through the whole movie. It’s beautiful, man. It’s so good. And he doesn’t even say a word.”
This feeling of not belonging is a theme that underlines the film. These characters are the galaxy’s least likely heroes, yet they come together and find family within each other despite their many differences and disagreements. In this movie, Rocket questions if he ever actually can be a true part of the Guardians, a feeling Gunn was familiar with growing up.
Cooper said, “I never feel like I belong. I feel like Rocket, you know. For me it’s a very personal film. I have always felt like I didn’t belong. And fortunately I have some people around me who maybe helped me feel like I’m not completely alone in the world, and just as importantly, I think I grew up with art and movies from David Cronenberg to Steven Spielberg, movies where an outcast didn’t feel so alone, along with music by Alice Cooper, The Clash, for outcasts. I was this little kid in Manchester, Mo. who felt like he was completely alienated from all his peers, and by listening to music and watching movies, I felt a little bit less alone, and I hope that that’s what ‘Guardians’ does for people. It’s a movie about outcasts for outcasts.”
Gunn writes his characters from the heart, allowing themselves to explore the world of Marvel multi-universe.
“I know that it sounds strange because I’m writing what they say, but sometimes I’m just letting I happen inside my own imagination and letting the characters go where they want to go,” said Gunn.
These characters have received such high praise and enthusiasm from across the globe. The message of family struck a chord with multiple cast members as well.
“You know, the reason that I love ‘Guardians’ is that all of these characters are, not only do they look different, it’s because whatever color of their skin or fur on their backs is describing to you how different they are in the inside from each other,” said Saldana. “Yet there’s this increasing desire to belong and be accepted and be loved and not be abandoned. I don’t see the Guardians as these awesome, kicking ass superheroes. I see them as these really delicate people that are just trying to get by day-by-day. I’m very familiar with that aspect of a family, people that survive so many things. They teach you to always give the benefit of the doubt, to keep looking within, because there is a very special person behind all that tough skin and all those walls.”
To Bautista who plays Drax the Destroyer, family is whom you are comfortable around to be your true self.
“Family is just, it’s people you care about and people who care about you and just love you regardless, that don’t judge you and you don’t have to feel awkward and self-conscious about, around… and they don’t necessarily have to be your blood family,” said Bautista. “That’s the message of our film, that even though families may be dysfunctional, at the end of the day, do you love this person? Do you care for this person? Would you do anything for this person? And if that answer is yes, then they are your family.”
With the introduction of Baby Groot (who the cast grudgingly admits stole the show), the ties of family between the Guardians becomes even stronger. As Quill searches for his father figure in “Vol. 2,” he unwittingly becomes the father figure to Baby Groot. A simple yet poignant scene towards the end of the movie demonstrates their relationship.
“It’s in that moment I realize that I’ve now entered the chapter in my life where I’m gonna be the man who’s raising somebody,” said Pratt.
He has said before that filming “GotG Vol. 2” helped him process the death of his father.
“And you know, I’m gonna have to make some choices on how I’m gonna be and what I’m gonna take with me [from the way] I was raised and also what I won’t do. I think that’s sort of the journey that every parent will take when they have a kid, and Quill kind of gets to that by the end of the movie,” he added.
Not only can parents relate to this movie, but also anyone with a love of life. Bautista’s character Drax has unwittingly inspired autistic kids across the world—fans are writing in to tell Bautista how they could connect to his portrayal of Drax, who has a hard time understanding metaphors. Drax, however, is unabashedly himself—his louder-than-life laugh in the film will put a smile on everyone’s face.
“Like everybody knows, everybody knows that I’m like a very understated person; I’m a little soft-spoken. But James is very big on Drax being larger than life,” said Bautista. “The laugh we came about by complete accident. I was laughing and [James] said, ‘Can you do it louder?’ and the louder I laughed, the louder I could hear him laughing. My laugh got bigger and bigger until I lost my voice.”
Enjoy the adventures of this ragtag team of heroes and laugh your head off when “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” flies into theaters, May 5.
BONUS Tidbit #1:
James Gunn revealed he was given a lot of freedom to explore the multiverse in this film in terms of visuals and plot, and Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige was on board for everything—except one small thing.
“There was one thing in the movie that we disagreed on. Only one thing in the whole movie, and Kevin let me have my way. And I appreciate it,” said Gunn.
“Good luck guessing what it is,” Feige told the audience.
Good luck indeed. They claimed it was nothing as big as a character arc but rather the smallest moment in the film.
BONUS Tidbit #2:
While commenting on Sean Gunn’s impressive performance as the Ravager Kruger and Rocket’s motion capturer, Feige gave away a special bit of information:
“Nobody else in this cast is allowed to talk about it,” revealed Feige. “Rocket has encountered other Marvel characters and I will tell you all of the actors have had an amazing time with Sean, as he brings Rocket to life and they can start acting off of him. It’s really impressive.”
Fingers crossed we’ll be seeing Rocket in “Avengers: Infinity War,” May 4, 2018!
Watch as Chris Pratt, director/writer James Gunn, Zoe Saldana and Dave Bautista attempt to answer my questions at the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 press conference.