‘Guardians’ Director James Gunn Speaks Out on Recasting Characters In His Movies

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Guardians lineup (left to right) Mantis, Drax, Star-Lord, Gamora, Baby Groot, Yondu, Nebula

Credit: Marvel Studios

Big names aren’t safe from the chopping block.

Zoe Saldana as Gamora (left), Chris Pratt as Star-Lord (middle), and James Gunn (right)
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: Disney Releasing a New Version of Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind This November

Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) director James Gunn has opened up about the recasting of characters in his films.

Most well-known for directing the popular Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, James Gunn has been the showrunner for all of Marvel Studios’ Guardians films, Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017), with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 slated for May 5, 2023, as part of Phase Five of the MCU.

Vin Diesel as Baby Groot
Credit: Marvel Studios

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will star familiar faces reprising their roles from the films, such as gun-toting human (and ex-part-Celestial), Peter Quill as Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), daughters of Thanos Gamora (Zoe Saldaña) and Nebula (Karen Gillan), tree-like alien Groot (Vin Diesel), fluffy-yet-deadly Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), revenge-bound Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), empath Mantis (Pom Klementieff), Ravager Kraglin Obfonteri (Sean Gunn) and Stakar Ogord (Sylvester Stallone).

Director Gunn was not always attached to the Guardians franchise, however. July of 2018 saw The Walt Disney Company fire Gunn from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 after several controversial posts resurfaced on Twitter. Eventually, he was reinstated as series director, allowing production to continue on Vol. 3.

Guardians crew in Thor 4
Credit: Marvel Studios

Now, James Gunn has come forward with his reasoning regarding the seemingly “cold-blooded” axing of actors and collaborators.

During a Twitter Q&A session, Gunn responded to fans’ questions about his process, to clarify rumors — namely, when something doesn’t work out on set.

Guardians of the Galaxy staring up into the sky
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: Marvel Completely Changes Popular ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Character, Fans Stunned

The following may contain offensive language not suitable for younger readers

In a quote tweet/reply to Twitter user @JJA101101, Gunn shares:

@JJA101101: Asking because of something I recently read…if you as a director have an actor who isn’t working out for any number of reasons (their process, temperament, lack of chemistry, etc) do you talk to them and give them a chance or two or do you quick trigger it and recast?

(in reply) James Gunn: If it’s their temperament & it’s serious, I’ll immediately recast. Life’s too short for assholes. Same if they’re repeatedly very late, which I hate, or unprepared. I have a long list of actors, A-list & otherwise, I’ll never work with for these reasons…

Gunn is particularly frank, stating that “life’s too short for a**holes”, coming forward with the fact that he actually keeps a “blacklist” of sorts — and it’s a “long list”, apparently — full of people “A-list & otherwise”.

He continues, adding:

But if it’s performance related, & they’re putting their all into it, I’ll do everything on my end to make it work until it’s absolutely clear the quality of the project will be perceivably harmed if we don’t recast. This can happen with really talented actors who just don’t fit.

Gunn makes it clear that he isn’t unreasonable, though — he will try his best to work with an actor if it’s a performance-related issue.

Ultimately though, it’s about serving the project at hand. If an actor who’s “really talented” just “[doesn’t] fit”, then they might be at risk of a recast under Gunn.

It was previously announced that Gunn would officially close the chapter on this iteration of the Guardians franchise at this year’s San Diego Comic Con, to much heartfelt tears from cast, fans and crew. As fans speculate on what Vol. 3 will bring, only time will tell when it comes to saying goodbye for good.

What do you think about James Gunn’s stance on recasting actors? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

More on the Guardians of the Galaxy

Before the Guardians say goodbye in Marvel Studios’ Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Five outing, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023), Marvel fans will be able to see the gang in the television special, the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (also directed by James Gunn), in December 2022, exclusively on Disney+.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will see the space-roving heroes coming face-to-face with the all-gold Adam Warlock, played by newcomer Will Poulter, as well as Elizabeth Debicki’s Ayesha. Chukwudi Iwuji will also play the High Evolutionary in Vol. 3.

Right now Marvel fans can enjoy other MCU favorites such as Chris Hemsworth (Thor Odinson) in Taika Waititi-directed Thor: Love and Thunder (2022), as well as Disney+ Originals Moon Knight (2022) and Ms. Marvel (2022), led by Marvel newcomers Oscar Isaac (Marc Spector/Moon Knight) and Iman Vellani (Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel) respectively. Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe wraps things up with Tatiana Maslany as the eponymous She-Hulk: Attorney at Law that debuted August 18, 2022, and Chadwick Boseman as King T’Challa send-off Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, coming November 11, 2022 later this year.

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