Recap of the Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 Press Junket
West Hollywood, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 20: (L-R) Producer Kevin Feige, actors Elizabeth Debecki, Michael Rooker, Chris Pratt, Kurt Russel and Director James Gunn onstage at Marvel Studio’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Press Conference at The London Hotel on April 20, 2017 in West Hollywood, California.
This past week, I had the wonderful opportunity to sit in on the Los Angeles Press Conference for the latest entry into the MCU, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. You can find my review of the film HERE. The guests included director James Gunn, Chris Pratt (Star-Lord), Zoe Saldana (Gamora), Dave Bautista (Drax), Michael Rooker (Yondu), Elizabeth Debicki (Ayesha), Pom Klementieff (Mantis), Karen Gillan (Nebula), Sean Gunn (Kraglin), Kurt Russell (Ego), with Sylvester Stallone (Stakar Ogord) and Marvel Studios Head Kevin Feige. It’s a film of massive scope and immense visionary, with a lot of humor and heart. At the press conference we were given a bit of insight into both as well as how the actors saw their parts in the whole process.
The Moderator was very quick to ask about the process of creating a sequel to a very beloved first film, to which Gunn knew the importance. “I wanted to continue the film from the first movie, you know. It was, so many sequels are not good. The primary reason in studying them seemed to be that so many of them just kind of do the same thing the first movie did with 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. And I think allowing them to be themselves and do their thing, I know that 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 wanted to go. I think the thing that I didn’t want to mess up was just trying to be a rehash of the first movie. I think people were surprised by the first movie, people have been surprised by the second film, and to give people something new and something different from what they already had.
When it came to casting Peter Quill’s Dad [Gunn] had big ideas for that too. Kurt Russel being brought in was a stroke of genius, but Kurt concentrated more on not messing up a good thing. Here’s what he had to say about the process of his inclusion.
KURT RUSSELL: the truth is that when I read the script I wanted to make sure I was understanding it correctly and I hadn’t seen the first movie. I’m not much of a moviegoer. I knew that everybody loved it, though. And I also knew that everybody all of a sudden, one day I was doing Hateful Eight stuff like this, and all of a sudden, boom, boom, boom, boom, my phone and the people around me are saying, are you gonna do, are you gonna be Star-Lord’s dad? Are you gonna be Peter Quill’s father and are you gonna do Guardians of the Galaxy and I, I just was like, guys, I don’t really know what they’re talking about. And I saw the movie and when I saw the movie, I immediately started getting it. I also immediately started wanting to do it. That was immediately followed by, everybody loved the first movie. What you don’t want to do is do something that’s gonna make them not like the second one, right? You do have that pressure. I don’t know about you, but I said yeah. I told James that. I said, I don’t want to mess this thing up, so I need your help.
Chris Pratt, who was also excited about the idea of Kurt Russell joining the cast, had this to say:
CHRIS PRATT: You know, there’s this thing that happens like you promised yourself you’re not gonna 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 and you’ve seen all their stuff and you have this opportunity from time to time if you’re lucky to work with someone like Kurt Russell. And you promised yourself you’re not gonna do the thing where you geek out and, but you, it’s a little inauthentic if you don’t, because if you just go in there and you be like, oh what is it, Kurt? Hey, nice to meet you. Chris. And 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.
James Gunn and Chris Pratt talk about the shirtless scenes:
CHRIS PRATT: I will say the greatest shirtless scene in this film by far, though, goes to Mr. Michael Rooker. It’s so beautiful, because – – Is it bad to talk about why I thought it was so great, because I don’t want to… okay. I want you to come to your own conclusions and stuff, but, Yondu is shirtless. He’s essentially naked, and really vulnerable. And you see that he’s just like had sex with these like crazy robot prostitutes or something from space. 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, in, fully clothed with his Ravagers behind him and this sense of power, but because you saw him naked you know what’s going on inside of his, of his mind, and that, that pathos carries the entire arc for Yondu through the whole movie, and I was just talking to James. It’s beautiful, man. It’s so good. And he doesn’t even say a word. So that’s, that’s way better than a guy who’s like, I’m gonna take my shirt off and sniff this, put this one on. Check it out.
JAMES GUNN: Yeah. But I will, I will say that you had the great idea of sniffing your armpit. Which is like, we kind of take the Marvel shirtless sexy scene, and right when you think you’re being very sexy, he’s smelling the arm pits of an old shirt to see if it’s okay to wear.
When asked about joining the cast and franchise, Stallone couldn’t have been more ecstatic.
SYLVESTER STALLONE: It was interesting because I love action films, but I haven’t ventured into the genre, so it was quite an experience. When I walked on the set, you know, you see robots and things and seven-feet woman, who is seven-foot tall and everything else, I thought it was great. It was a great vacation. It’s better than being up a tree in Burma. You know what I mean? [LAUGHTER] Much better. Trust me.
Marvel has a track record of incorporating powerful, fully rounded female characters in their films and there’s no better example of that than in the Guardians of the Galaxy films.
MODERATOR: One of the things I think we’ve loved about Marvel is kind of more and more women are popping up in the films, which is great. Guardians, I think, does a really fantastic job of bringing us unique, wonderful, strong women. Can you all talk about that aspect in this film and especially the sister relationship and getting to fight and kick ass together on screen.
KAREN GILLAN: It’s the greatest. I loved working on all of that stuff with Zoe, I mean, it’s the best, we have such a good time. [LAUGHS]
ZOE SALDANA: We do, because we’re very opposite to our characters and you know, Karen is very feminine and…
KAREN GILLAN: Really?
ZOE SALDANA: And goofy and a little clumsy [LAUGHTER] because these sets are dangerous, let’s be honest. The grounds are never flat and we’re around wires and everything…
KAREN GILLAN: Ooh, ooh, ooh, oooh… [LAUGHS]
ZOE SALDANA: Like weapons everywhere.
KAREN GILLAN: Zoe literally teaches me how to fight while we’re doing it. She’ll be like, “Turn your head like that and you strangle someone like that, you’ll going to look cool,” and I’m like, “Yes, thank you,” [LAUGHTER]
ZOE SALDANA: I’m like, “Karen, come on run, run, Karen, run, run, run, keep up…” okay. [LAUGHTER] And Karen, Karen teaches me like, to just bring it. As soon as like James says, “Action,” she goes from like Euuuu… hey. And she’s like this Nebula and every time I would try to do that for Gamora, James is like, “Don’t do that.” [LAUGHTER] I’m like, oh, okay, I was trying to alter my voice and sound like someone cool, no… don’t do that, yeah. But she just like changes everything from the look, the walk and we’re all like behind her going… like, that’s Karen? No way. And she brings it.
Sean Gunn, the Director’s brother plays Kraglin in the film, but also does the motion capture on set for Rocket. He’s a valuable asset to the Guardians production and his contributions go very far in the creation of the furry side kick.
SEAN GUNN: Well, it’s interesting, you know, I mean… I played two roles in the movie. From my… you know… when you act there’s both the input and the output. The input is the work you put into it and what you do on set and then the output is what you see onscreen, so for me the input is very similar for both characters, but the output is, is totally different because it takes a whole team of people to make Rocket. So, you know, I’m just a member of that team. But yeah, it’s interesting in this movie because Rocket and Kraglin have a few scenes that they’re in together, so… so doing [LAUGHS] you know, like juggling the two things was a very strange and challenging experience for me. But I love it. I love both characters and I, you know, I’m just really grateful to be a part of it.
ZOE SALDANA: It’s amazing. I don’t think that, that people really understand that what Sean does just for the movie, like the references, like the intonation; he’s so limber as well, so he manages to get like to shrink and curl up and be this big, so he’s always like Rocket-size and he gives us all the passion and all the dynamic that we need to have from Rocket because Rocket is the sassiest character of the Guardians and I don’t think that we would be able to respond to Rocket and more, like more like Drax and Quill and you know, Nebula, too. Like nobody would be able to respond to Rocket the same way if Sean wasn’t playing him. And I know that Sean serves as the perfect reference for Bradley, because in post, I know for a fact that the, you know, whatever you leave there behind for Bradley, it’s just what he needs to sort of catch up on everything that he’s missed when we’ve spent those four months shooting and James Gunn and I were talking about that last night that it’s just how like the Rocket of, the voice of Rocket in this second movie, it’s not that it’s been improved because it was wonderful in the beginning because you just, you leave it there for everybody to sort of pick up and it’s, I’m not saying that Bradley picks it up, but Bradley really has the perfect reference and then he paints over it, you know, as an actor and he adds his nuances and everything but still, it’s just Rocket is really composed of two very important people.
As the film closes, we are given a quick glimpse of a new team of Guardians of the Galaxy, harkening back to the original series run in the comics from the late 60’s.
This is what James Gunn had to say concerning the original Guardians of the Galaxy:
JAMES GUNN: There were so many Easter eggs in this movie, and so one that I wanted to see if you guys could confirm or just talk about is, you show Sylvester Stallone, Stakar in one of the cut, closing credit scenes. Could almost re-assemble a new team that might be harkening to the ‘90s Guardians of the Galaxy group. I don’t know if Ving Rhames is Charlie 27 or whatnot. Can you guys, Kevin or James, can you talk about those characters, if we’re gonna see them in the future?
JAMES GUNN: Kevin?
KEVIN FEIGE: Well, no, James can talk about them. I mean, they’re clearly – –
PRESS: They’re there, so.
KEVIN FEIGE: – – Yeah, they’re definitely the original Guardians. That was the fun of it, and when James had the idea to do more with the Yondu character who was also an original Guardians, the notion that he had a team once like Peter does now, that it’d be fun to see them. And he’s definitely Charlie 27. Where we see them in the future, time will tell.
Be sure to leave a comment on who your favorite Guardian of the Galaxy is in the comments and check out Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 when it hits theaters May 5, 2017! #GotGVol2