We’re just two short weeks away from the release of Marvel‘s sequel “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”, and this week the project’s cast and creative team gathered in Beverly Hills, California this for a press conference about the making of the new film.
On the first panel were Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, actors Elizabeth Debicki (“The Great Gatsby”), Michael Rooker (“Cliffhanger”), Chris Pratt (“Jurassic World”), and Kurt Russell (“The Thing”), plus the movie’s director James Gunn, who also helmed the first installment of “Guardians of the Galaxy”.
The moderator asked how the new cast members were brought on board the sequel. Elizabeth Debicki (who plays the super-being Ayesha) was the first to speak up.
“James convinced me. He was extremely persuasive, not that I needed convincing. My first day on the set was when we were shootng in the throne room, and I was terrified by playing this extremely powerful creature, which is a great juxtaposition in your head. I remember sitting up on this throne for a long time and all the Guardians were in front of me. It was so intimidating. And it was about two hours before we spoke to each other, I think. And I was like, ‘Please come and say hello.’ And then it was fine after that.”
Kurt Russell (Ego the Living Planet) wasn’t very familiar with the world of “Guardians of the Galaxy” before signing on to play Peter Quill’s father.
“When I read the script I wanted to make sure I was understanding it correctly. I hadn’t seen the first movie; I’m not much of a movie-goer. I knew that everybody loved it, though. When I saw the movie, I immediately started getting it, and I immediately wanted to do it. And that was immediately followed by, ‘everybody loves the first movie, what you don’t want to do is do something that’s going to make them not like the second one.’ So you do feel that pressure. I told James that, I said ‘I don’t want to mess this thing up, so I need your help.'”
Returning star Chris Pratt (Star-Lord) talked about what it was like working with Russell, who was one of his acting heroes growing up.
“You promise yourself you’re not going to do this thing that happens every time you meet someone who’s an icon, someone that you’ve known way longer than they’ve ever known you. You’ve seen all their stuff, and you have this opportunity, from time to time, to work with someone like a Kurt Russell. And you promise yourself you’re not going to do the thing where you geek out, but it’s a little inauthentic if you don’t. If [I were to] just go in there like, ‘Oh? What is it, Kurt? Hey, nice to meet you, Chris,’ and I don’t acknowledge 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. It doesn’t really take that long to tell someone that you really love them and you really respect their work and for them to go, ‘Yeah? Thanks!’ And then that’s it. At that point, you move forward, and there’s this really cool thing, the one thing I never would have imagined, the greatest part of it, the biggest secret, is you become somebody’s friend and somebody’s peer, 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.”
Director James Gunn (“Super”) discussed his goals for coming back for another round of the “Guardians” series.
“I wanted to continue the film from the first movie. So many sequels are not good. The primary reason, in studying them, seems to be that so many of them just kind of do the same thing the first movie did, with a different template. And so they say, ‘Oh, people liked the dance-off in the first movie, so what’s our version of the dance-off? People liked “We are Groot” in the first movie, what’s our version of “We Are Groot?”‘ And instead of doing that, we really tried to let these characters grow and change. We want to watch them become new people and different people in every film that we come up with.”
“I [wanted to allow] them to just sort of be themselves and do their thing, [to let] the characters go where they wanted to go. I think the thing that I didn’t want to mess up is just trying to be a rehash of the first movie. I think people were suprised by the first movie [and] people are going to be surprised by the second film. [I wanted] to give people something new and something different from what they already had.”
Gunn also commented on an extended scene featuring a shirtless Pratt. “Kevin Feige has a rule, he gave me full creative freedom except the one thing [is that] there must be Chris Pratt shirtless.”
Pratt countered with a take on one of the movie’s other sequences of (partial) male nudity.
“I will say the greatless shirtless scene in this film, by far, though, goes to Mr. Michael Rooker. It’s no joke. When you see the movie, be sure to pay attention to the moment we see Yondu for the first time. It’s, in my opinion, [the] moment that [makes] this film truly transcend the genre. I’m not joking, it sounds like I’m doing a bit, but I’m really not. It’s so beautiful. Yondu is shirtless, he’s essentially naked and really vulnerable, and you see that he’s just had sex with these crazy robot prostitutes or something. 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, you know that he’s vulnerable. And then immediately you cut to him walking in, fully clothed, with his ravagers behind him, in a sense of power, 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, and it’s beautiful. He doesn’t even say a word.”
Michael Rooker (Yondu) reminisced about his preparation for said scene.
“I worked out so hard for at least three months before the movie, and I’m thinking ‘Oh my god, I’m gonna do this scene,’ and it just dawned on me there at that moment, like about two weeks before, that I shouldn’t be in shape. I should be just the opposite. And then immediately I had this grin on my face like, ‘I can eat again!’ And I did.”
Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” will be released into theaters nationwide on Friday, May 5th. Check back here at Inside the Magic early next week for PART 2 of the press conference.