On July 19th, the cast of Guardians Of The Galaxy sat down for a press conference at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank. Here are the highlights from Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Benicio del Toro and Director James Gunn. Be sure to see Guardians Of The Galaxy in theaters August 1st!
Q: These are some fairly unknown characters even though they exist in the Marvel comic universe. What attracted you to the project and was bringing new characters a daunting task or was it liberating?
James Gunn: It was liberating. I would have had a harder time trying to fit into the regular Marvel scheme of things. 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 in my entire professional career. When I was a kid, I was obsessed with the different planets in the solar system. I used to create for every single planet a different alien race with a certain pet and a certain house and a certain water system and everything. And I would draw these pictures and I had hundreds of these pictures and had them in a box and this was like going back to that childhood box and creating this fun universe.
Q: Chris, how did you find the right attitude for your character in the movie?
Chris Pratt: The whole process for me on this one was just trusting James really. And taking big swings and sometimes falling flat on my face. The big challenge for me was just trying to ignore the embarrassment of being an actor. It’s a pretty embarrassing thing to do and you got people pointing cameras at you and hundreds of people watching you as you’re trying to be great and almost every time you’re not. And then there’s one moment where you and the editor will dig through all the shit to find it and then put it in the movie. So the challenge was not finding the attitude, it’s really just being open and willing to go for it and trying different things and having a director that you can trust. And so the attitude is not something that I intended or created. It’s something James intended and created by getting me to try different things.
Q: James, the movie is very action-packed and very funny, but it’s also got a lot of heart. What was your inspiration behind the emotional journey that you took the characters through and exposing their vulnerabilities?
James Gunn: The movie is about a couple of things. Number one, the movie’s about a son’s relationship to his mother and how it manifests itself throughout the rest of his life. That to me is an emotional thing. The second thing is – we live in a world where everybody’s supposed to be cool and act tough and put up fronts and everybody’s so cynical. And this movie is about actually allowing yourself to care; allowing yourself to give a shit. So that’s a natural emotional thing for me. And then thirdly, I fell in love with these characters as I was making the movie. I fell in love with these actors as I was making it and I think that just my natural sensitivity to that – to the characters, to people, to emotions – is just something that is automatically expressed within the film. It’s a film about family.
Q: Gamora is a bad ass. What was your approach to this character?
Zoe Saldana: Gamora was taken sort of like the lost boys of the Sudan. She was taken from her village, from her planet and forced into a life of violence and crime. So there’s this pain that follows her wherever she goes. But there’s this last hope that she can possibly get away. Gamora is a hustler and I wanted her fighting technique to be very different. I just didn’t want Gamora to look like any typical action person that’s just very martial artsy. I wanted her to be a little more graceful and very classy in the way that she fights. She 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, too. I’ve never done that.’
Chris Pratt: Yeah, she whacked me really good a lot of times. She can knock you out. I guarantee you. She can knock just about anybody out. She’s a real athlete. She’s got a very strong kick and she’s not even afraid to use it too.
Q: This question is for Dave and Vin. You’re coming into a new cinematic universe. What was the appeal of the Marvel universe and this new Guardians Of The Galaxy?
Dave Bautista: I didn’t look at it so much as the Marvel thing. I was very familiar with Marvel obviously and I realized they had a winning formula in movies where they’re very well done. But I really looked at it as something new and completely on its own because it was original and fresh. I looked at it from strictly the standpoint of Drax because once I realized who Drax was and how much of an emotional roller coaster his character would be, I just kinda fell in love with him.
Vin Diesel: I’m new to Marvel. I guess this whole thing started for me with a social media wave that was adamant about me doing something with Marvel. And there wasn’t really a six-month window to do a character at Marvel. So when Kevin Feige called me and said that him and James were talking about me playing a role, I had no idea what role it would be. They sent over a book of conceptual art and I went into my living room with my kids and I opened up the book and I asked the kids what character they wanted daddy to play. And they all pointed at the tree…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 that you can see in the film.
Q: Benicio, you’ve played a lot of great characters, but The Collector’s an unusual one. How did you get into this role?
Benicio del Toro: As I went about it, I felt like I could explore the character in every way I would have wanted to. And James was very supportive to taking chances and trying different things. I felt like an animal that grows up in a cage and suddenly you open the door and he comes out and he’s tentative to take chances and James was very nice to me to allow me to like go, go, go. It was a great feeling.
James Gunn: Benicio is one of my favorite actors in the world and I was so excited when he did this. But one of my favorite moments in the whole movie is when Benicio came into my office when he was first visiting for his fitting. He sat down with me and we were talking about the character and how we saw the character and where he was coming from. And he said, “You know, when I think about it, I think about when I was a little kid, I was the first kid in my neighborhood to have a pet alligator.” That was the greatest thing I’ve ever heard.