I’ve said it time and time again, but it truly bears repeating: James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy remains one of my most anticipated films for the rest of the year. A big part of that excitement is the fact that the movie stars Chris Pratt, a young, extremely talented and charismatic actor who will be donning a red duster and awesome silver mask to play the film’s lead, Peter Quill a.k.a. Star Lord. I’ve been looking forward to his performance ever since he first landed the role all the way back in February of last year, but my expectations grew exponentially when I joined a small group of other journalists to travel to the Guardians of the Galaxy set last year and got the chance to talk with him between takes.
The interview resulted in the reveal of some fascinating and cool facts about the new Marvel Studios movie, so read on to learn what you can expect from Chris Pratt’s performance and the rest of Guardians of the Galaxy!
Freedom From Anticipation And Being Better Than Star Wars
Unlike all of the other heroes who have gotten their own solo films from Marvel Studios, the Guardians of the Galaxy really don’t have any name recognition at all. It’s been predicted by some that this fact could end up hurting the movie’s box office potential, as non-regular movie-goers may be more wary of seeing something based on a property they haven’t heard of. On the other side of that coin, however, that same anonymity also helped Chris Pratt ‘s performance in a very important way.
Going in to play Star-Lord, Pratt wanted the opportunity to really leave his own special, unique mark on the comic book character, and because there aren’t many out there who are obscenely passionate about every single detail of Peter’s personality, the actor felt a certain degree of freedom to explore him within himself. In trying to accomplish this, the star looked to a very understandable role model:
"I think that’s something that Robert Downey Jr. did with Iron Man. He came in and he is Tony Stark… I don’t even know him, so maybe that’s not how he is at all. Maybe he has a British accent and is a totally different person than Tony Stark. But to me it seems like, ‘Robert Downey Jr. is Tony Stark.’"
Beyond just the characters, Pratt also believes that lowered expectations will also help Guardians of the Galaxy in a larger sense, as the film won’t be under the ridiculously high pressure that some other major blockbusters face.
"You think of it like those Star Wars movies that came out, the prequels that came out," he said. "There was a lot of expectations there, and to shoulder a project with preconceived notions, expectations and all these things, it really makes it difficult. It makes it difficult if you spend the whole movie trying to satisfy what people think they know about a character. The first Star Wars didn’t have that problem because it’s all brand new. You just take it for what it is."
"So what I’m saying is that we will be better than Star Wars," Pratt said laughing
Peter Quill Is Looking For An Escape
Peter Quill has a backstory unlike any other character we’ve met so far in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Born to a human mother and an alien father, he first left home when he was just nine years old (back in the late 80s), and grew up to become a Han Solo-like rogue moving from job to job. But what is it exactly that motivates him to continue? His never ending quest to escape.
Comparing Star-Lord to a person who regularly buys lotto tickets believing that it’s going to be their big step to a better life, Pratt told us that his character is constantly on the move because he is always looking for that last big score that will result in everything being taken care of forever. Because this is really no way to live, Guardians of the Galaxy in part really becomes about his growth as a person and the acceptance of a new world-view.
Said Pratt, "He learns through the course of the movie that that [the way he’s living isn’t] ultimately where you find true satisfaction with yourself or real happiness. It’s really gonna come from doing something bigger than yourself and giving yourself up to something that’s bigger than yourself. So we find him in a hopeful, playful place where -- and he’s sort of escaping and a little bit on the run."
Of course, Star-Lord isn’t only metaphorically on the run from his emotions, but is also literally on the run in Guardians of the Galaxy working to stay ahead of the dangerous killers who are on his tail in search of a mysterious orb. But you’ll just have to wait a few more weeks until I can talk more about that and more from my time on the Marvel Studio’s movie set.
The Comedy Element Is Very Important, And It’s Going To Put Other Movies To Shame
In the last few years, Chris Pratt has done a solid job racking up some solid dramatic roles in really terrific movies, like Moneyball, Zero Dark Thirty and Her, but anyone who is familiar with his work on the series Parks and Recreation knows that Pratt’s really at his best when going for laughs. His character on the NBC Show, Andy Dwyer, is so dumb that he would lose a spelling bee to a turnip, and Pratt’s physicality and brilliant timing makes the character the highlight and most hilarious part of every scene he’s in. Naturally, when the actor landed the starring role in Guardians of the Galaxy fans crossed their fingers that the movie would let him be funny. It turns out that’s not only true, but that it’s one of the film’s most vital qualities.
"I think comedy is very, very important in this film," Pratt explained during the roundtable. "If we pull this off right, it's going to be hard for other movies to come out that are like this… It's not just a straight action-adventure type of movie. I think all the best big adventure movies have comedy, like all the Indiana Jones movies and Romancing the Stone. Any type of movie where you have an adventure, potential budding sexual chemistry and humor all together, it really works."
A big part of what allowed the star to become so confident in the humor was the way in which he bonded with director James Gunn, with whom he found compatibility in comedy. Gunn, of course, has a long history of making people laugh with dark, dark comedies like Slither and Super, and Pratt says we will definitely see that come out in Guardians of the Galaxy.
"This is ultimately his movie and his voice, and you'll definitely see that humor through the course of this movie," the actor said.
You’re Going To Seriously Feel For Rocket Raccoon
Guardians of the Galaxy is filled to the brim with some extremely strange and outlandish characters, but perhaps the most fascinating and bizarre among them is none other than Rocket Raccoon. The character’s cute, fuzzy look mixed with his notorious love of big guns has given most fans the impression that he will be a big part of the film’s comedic relief, but the truth is that there is a more somber side to him as well. The result of alien biological tests, Rocket is actually one of a kind, and there’s a very real loneliness that comes with that. While there certainly will be scenes where the anti-hero raccoon will be making us laugh, Chris Pratt says that he is even more impressive as a dramatic character.
Asked what other characters in Guardians of the Galaxy he was most taken aback by, Pratt began by singing the praises of Dave Bautista’s Drax The Destroyer, but then began to describe why we should be ready for a real emotional punch watching the live-action version of Rocket Raccoon.
"I think Rocket is a great character, not just in a way that you would think," the actor said. "There’s a lot of heart there. James [Gunn] did a lot of looking at Rocket as a real character rather than a cartoon character. And so when you see the story unfold… you should kind of feel bad for anything that was kind of created out of nothing. There’s a sense of loneliness and this inner pain that Rocket feels that hopefully the audience will empathize with that makes him a really sympathetic character, but also so badass. ‘Cause he’s a raccoon with a machine gun!"
Needless to say, our expectations for Bradley Cooper’s performance have shot through the roof.
Just Thinking About The Space Prison Gives Chris Pratt Goose Bumps
Speaking from first-hand experience, being on a movie set can truly be an awe-inspiring thing. Thanks to all of the equipment and people constantly rushing around, you’re constantly reminded that what you’re seeing is just part of a big production, but it’s still hard not to be struck seeing things of pure fiction right in front of your eyes. In that sense, I can only imagine what it would be like to spend weeks on the set of a movie like Guardians of the Galaxy, but according to Chris Pratt there was one moment on set so amazing that he actually got goose bumps recalling it during out interview.
Those of you who have seen the Guardians of the Galaxy trailer know that there is a point in the film where Star-Lord gets thrown in a space prison – called The Kiln – but what you don’t know about is that the scene where he is first taking in the atmosphere of the general population is going to be absolutely epic. As described by Pratt, the scene took place in a giant warehouse complete with two levels of cells, a giant tower, and 160 extras all decked out in some of the strangest alien makeup you’ve ever seen. Using a crane, the sequence was all done in one shot with the camera moving through the crowd and capturing all kinds of fighting and chaos. Making the moment all the more exciting was that it gave Pratt an opportunity to work with legendary second unit director/assistant director Michael Stevenson, whose credits include titles like The Shining, Lawrence of Arabia, and Doctor Zhivago.
"There’s this long, dollying crane shot that’s on our backs and then lifts up and then circles around, you see a fight break out and then it pans down to a second level and you see these ominous prisoners grab someone and drag them into a cell," Pratt explained. "And then it goes down even further and you’re seeing details that I don’t want to give… but you’ll know this shot. It was so surreal because the shot ends on my face looking around taking it all in. And then it quickly cuts out and that moment. It’s been five months of moments like that. It’s really, really crazy."
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NJ native who calls LA home and lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran who is endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.