GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY — Director and Cast Discuss Characters

Guardians of the Galaxy blasts into theaters in about two weeks, and over the weekend the cast spoke to the press about the superhero space action adventure comedy (is that enough genres for you?). Director James Gunn joined Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel, Dave Bautista, Michael Rooker, and Benicio Del Toro to answer questions about the way they approached the movie.

Gunn is known for his less conventional movies Slither and Super (maybe he should have renamed this movie Saviors), which aren’t movies that could have come out of the Marvel movie machine. Luckily, the Guardians of the Galaxy don’t really seem like anything that would come out of the Marvel movie machine either. But did he find the unconventional heroes daunting?

“It was, frankly, liberating. I think I would have had a harder time trying to fit into the regular Marvel scheme of things and this gave me a chance to take what I loved about Marvel movies and Marvel comics and create a whole new universe which is really what has been the most exciting thing for me in my entire professional career. When I was a kid I was obsessed with different planets and the solar system, and I used to create for every single planet a different alien race with a certain kind of pet and a certain kind of house and a certain kind of water system and everything, and I would draw these pictures and I had hundreds of these pictures, had ‘em in a box, and this is really to me like going back to that childhood box and creating this fun universe.”

My favorite exchange of the press conference went like this:

Pratt: "I was aware of Guardians of the Galaxy, but James told me not to read any of ‘em. And so…"
Gunn: "[Laughs] You keep saying that! You overheard me tell [Michael Rooker] not to read the comics, because he’s…" 
Rooker: "I read ‘em. I read ‘em anyway."

Pratt talked about not being the most obvious choice to play a superhero.

“People probably didn’t see me, I’m not sure I even saw myself in this kind of a role, but what’s really kind of nice about this movie — and I believe this — is that we did something in this movie that’s never been done before… So I don’t think I was right to do anything that’s similar to what’s been done before. I wouldn’t have been right to do those other movies, so maybe people wouldn’t have seen me in this role, but that’s because they weren’t able to have the vision that kind of James had for what this could be.”

Gunn confessed that he actually hadn’t seen Pratt in the role either.

“Sarah Finn, our casting director, really deserves the credit for Chris in a lot of ways because she kept putting his picture in front of me and saying, ‘What about this guy? Why don’t you meet with him?’ and I was like, ‘The chubby guy from Parks and Rec?’ I don’t remember ever agreeing to see Chris, I just remember her saying, ‘Okay, and after this guy, Chris Pratt’s here,’ and I was like, I was a little mad. I was like, ‘I thought I didn’t want to see him.’ But you know, and then Chris came in and he started to read, and this is 100 percent true, that within 20 seconds I was like, ‘Holy sh-t, that’s the guy. That’s who we’ve been looking for.’”

Saldana spoke about finding the right fighting style for Gamora.

“I wanted her fighting technique to be very, very different… I just didn’t want Gamora to look like any typical action person that’s just like very martial artsy and does those Underworld jumps and lands and the ground breaks and sh-t. I just wanted her to be a little more graceful, and antique, very classy in the way that she fights. And my husband, one of his colleagues… was showing us her last collection of work that… she basically recorded this bullfighter from Spain dancing a duel, a fight, and sort of leading the bull with his sword and his cape, and she shot it at 60 frames per second so it was very slow and I’ve never seen somebody move so, so smoothly and it was just such a seductive dance, and I thought well, that’s Gamora. She’s a woman and she just has to be very seductive in the way that she tricks her enemy into falling into their own death. And I thought, well that’ll be interesting, I’ve never done that. So when I told that to James, he thought, ‘Oh yeah yeah yeah. Go for it, go for it.’ It was hard telling the stunt people because they’re so hard and they think that girls are stupid, so when you walk into this testosterone-driven rehearsal place and you’re like, ‘Well, she does fencing. and she’s a bullfighter,' they’re kind of like, 'Quoi?' but then they realized they didn’t really have a choice and they adapted it.”

Diesel explained his process of recording the voice of Groot, who is only capable of saying “I am Groot.” One day turned into four, and Gunn was in the recording studio with him.

“It would be wild to actually see my script, because I don’t think anyone’s seen my script. On the left hand side of the page it said, ‘I am Groot.’ And then on the right hand side of the page, it could be a whole paragraph about what ‘I am Groot’ meant, so when I walked into that situation I saw somebody that cared so much about every little nuance of that character. It was so refreshing for somebody that didn’t think that being a perfectionist was a bad thing… To have a director that loves his actors is something you can see translated in the film.”

I’m not supposed to write about what I thought of the film yet, but it’s in theaters on August 1, and I can’t wait for you guys to see it.