James Gunn talks GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY; Raccoons, Chris Pratt and Star Wars

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So our British friends over the pond may not have seen the sun in a while, but they certainly had their share of other stars last night at the UK premier of Iron Man 3. And rubbing shoulders with the other celebs was Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn, who spoke to Hey U Guys about Marvel’s upcoming cosmic superhero adventure.

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He began off by mentioning that although nothing is confirmed, as was reported last week, The Walking Dead star Michael Rooker will be involved in the movie in some way.

“Michael Rooker is my very good friend, he was here visiting me in England and we were hanging out. He was here playing with my dog and having a good time. He’s got a new, little Mohawk that looks ridiculous on him, but yeah, he’s here and hopefully we’ll get something going. Michael’s been in two of my movies, we’ve done two movies together, two reality shows, a short film, so I don’t think it would be crazy to think he would be involved in Guardians in some way.”

Some fans have speculated that Rooker could perhaps provide the voice for Rocket Raccoon, the CGI anthropomorphic talking raccoon that will be one of the film’s biggest (although smallest) characters. But he’s just the latest in a long list of actors – including everything from Robert De Niro to Ron Perlman to current “Guardians of the Galaxy” comic book writer Brian Michael Bendis’ pick, Jason Statham – that people seem to think will be right for the role.

“…here’s the thing: there are a lot of people who have a lot of ideas of who is right for Rocket Racoon. Rocket Racoon has been slightly different over the years, in the comic books, and within my scripts he is a very, very specific guy, and I think people are going to have to wait for a few weeks before they see.”

“…We’ll get our dream guy, because a lot of people want to do it, so we’ll get the person who’s perfect for the role.”

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Recently, a bunch of Marvel Phase Two concept art was released, including some pieces for Guardians of the Galaxy that some people thought looked very Star Wars-y.

“I do think we’re very, very different from Star Wars. Some of the concept art that came out is under my tutelage, and some of it is before my tutelage. The concept art that came out is only stuff that was on the big Marvel collected disc set, talking about phase two and it had some stuff from Guardians. Some of the art by Charlie Wen and the guys.

The Rocket that was by itself was an early version of my Rocket that I dealt with Charlie when developing. He doesn’t look so much like that anymore, but there’s a lot of similarities in that he’s more of a grounded, real little creature as opposed to a cartoonish thing.”

“I’ve done a lot of studying with real racoons, and we had real racoons come in. We’ve done photography with them, I’ve played with racoons, and fed racoons, and dealt a lot with real racoons to get some of the behaviour down, because it’s really, really important to me that Rocket Racoon, who is the heart of the movie, is not a cartoon character, it’s not Bugs Bunny in the middle of The Avengers, it’s a real, little, somewhat mangled beast that’s alone. There’s no one else in the universe quite like him, he’s been created by these guys to be a mean-ass fighting machine.”

Now in case the talking raccoon badass thing, or maybe the picture of the living tree above hasn’t already clued you in, Guardians of the Galaxy will be unlike anything that Marvel has put out so far. But Gunn thinks it won’t be that different.

” In some ways yes, but in some ways no. In terms of a lot of stuff we’re very much like The Avengers, where it’s a very big, huge movie. It’s different because it’s cosmic, it’s in outer space, it’s very colourful. We have a whole history of science fiction behind us that we’re dealing with, and borrowing from, and also fighting with to create something unique. But at the same time there’s a lot of stuff it has in common with The Avengers.”

“How you define a superhero movie is very difficult. To say that Drax or Gamora aren’t super heroes, it’s difficult. Even Quill. They are superheroes in a way.  I think it is a superhero movie.”

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Although it’s been reported in the media (even over here) that Zoe Saldana will be taking on the role of the green skinned warrior-assassin Gamora, Gunn was very coy on the subject but his sly “Maybe” hints that this is the case. He also indicated that one of the other reported castings, Dave Bautista playing Drax the Destroyer, is also not finalized, though with the praise he was heaping on the ex-wrestler, you’d have to think that it was only a matter of time before it’s official.

“We haven’t really come out with our cast, people have gotten hold of some things, but I will say one thing: Dave Bautista is one of the most naturally gifted actors I have ever seen in my life. The guy has access to his emotions in a way that I have seen very few people able to do, and if he did get the role of Drax – I’ll tell you, nobody else was ever offered that role, at all; anything you heard about that is bullshit, and if he did get the role, it’s 100% because of his ability to access his emotions, more so than anything else. And it just so happens that the guy was created in the cast of Drax when he was born, he looks just like Drax.”

One role that has been 100% confirmed though, was “Parks & Recreation” and Zero Dark Thirty star Chris Pratt in the lead role of Peter Quill aka Star Lord. While Pratt is a recognizable face, he’s certainly not on the same popularity level as some of the other big names that were reportedly up for the role. But that’s apparently all going to change soon, if Gunn is to be believed.

“Everybody knows Chris Pratt is in the movie, and I saw maybe 80 to 100 guys read for Peter Quill. I was very specific that I wanted it to be somebody really extraordinary. I really had Robert Downey Jr in mind a lot. You had this guy who came in and he inhabited Tony Stark, when you first saw Tony Stark he blew your mind, you couldn’t believe what you were seeing. I knew that I needed somebody to blow my mind like that.

We saw a lot of very famous guys for the role, a lot of very well-known people, and very, very good actors. We saw a lot of good performances, but it wasn’t until Chris came in and he read and I was like, ‘oh my God’, this guy has his own, very particular, amazing take on the character that blew my mind, blew me away. Then I thought, this is the first guy I could see sharing the screen with Robert Downey Jr and giving him a run for his money.”

Out-RDJ RDJ? That’s certainly some bold praise, as Downey Jr is essentially a human attention black hole. So will we get the chance to see the two men go head to head, or goatee to helmet as it were, as some have rumoured that Iron Man will be showing up in the film’s post credits scene?

“No. That just means that all our movies are connected, we’re created in a way that we’re very connected to the movies that came before us, we’re even more connected to The Avengers 2, that comes after us, and so in that respect, what we would hope is that these characters would continue, and that at some point in time they’ll all meet up with different characters throughout the galaxy.”

Like in, say, and I’m just spitballing here, The Avengers 2 to help stop Thanos from getting the Infinity Gauntlet perhaps? With an August 1, 2014 release date, it’s still a while before we get to learn exactly how Guardians of the Galaxy will link up with the rest of the Marvel movie pantheon, but our first clue should be arriving pretty soon when Iron Man 3 hits local cinemas in two weeks on 1 May.

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Last Updated: April 19, 2013

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