What is it about father-and-son relationships that drive our science-fiction blockbusters? Ever since Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) found out the hard way that he has a despicable dad, we have been interested in the familial ties that bind our big-screen heroes, and Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) is no different. A key subplot of the first Guardians of the Galaxy revolved around the identity of Quill's off-screen father, and in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, we'll finally meet the man, personified by Kurt Russell. But as Russell tells us, during a recent trip to the Atlanta set of James Gunn's sequel, he had no clue what a Guardian of the Galaxy even was until geeky movie journalists like myself kept telling him he needed to play Pratt's on-screen dad. Russell recalled:
I was doing publicity for Hateful Eight and suddenly, people started saying, 'Are you going to play Peter Quill's father?' And I'm like, 'I don't know what you're talking about.' [laughter] You know, I wasn't aware of it. All of a sudden, for the first time, this was a character, obviously, that people really wanted to... they were interested. They were all very positive. It wasn't like, 'Seriously? You're not going to do THAT, are you?' It was like, 'Whoa, are you going to do that? That's perfect, you should do that.' And I didn't know what they were talking about.
So when I had the opportunity to see the Guardians of the Galaxy, you know, I got it. I got it. And I could see the reasons why people were interested in that. The fun part has been tapping into all of that, bringing the right baggage, and you know, and having the opportunity, still, to explore with James Gunn and Chris and the whole gang.
Chris Pratt has remade himself in the mold of Kurt Russell, circa Tango & Cash or Big Trouble in Little China. In movies like the first Guardians of the Galaxy and, after, Jurassic World, the one-time comic relief on NBC's Parks and Rec transformed himself into a charismatic but still believable action-movie leading man -- rough around the edges in the right amounts, and capable of making the audience chuckle as he gets the girl and saves the day. That used to be Kurt Russell's bag. You can understand why James Gunn would want to cast Russell as Ego the Living Planet, extraterrestrial father to a half-human Peter Quill.
There are actors that I loved growing up. There's a handful of them, and he is absolutely right at the top of that list, and has not once done anything to disappoint the inner child in me, who was so excited when he got cast. He's really cool. He's absolutely an artist, you know? Even though he, he's like kind of the every man kind of a character, he's really an artist and he really cares deeply about all of the details of his character. We're really kindred spirits. Like, me and Ana, and Kurt and Goldie, I feel like are, the same in some parallel universe, you know what I mean? Ana is oftentimes compared to Goldie Hahn, in The House Bunny and things like that. And one of our favorite movies is Overboard and I guess some people have made that comparison with me and Kurt, just like kind of a blue collar type of dude, American actor. And yeah, he loves to hunt and be outdoors and he's, you know, I don't know, I just really, really love, I love him. I love him. I'm in love with Kurt Russell. [laughter]
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 hits theaters on May 5, and the cast has been pumping it up pretty hard. I think they know they have something impressive on their hands. To read more from my trip to the set, click here. But I'd also advise you to head on over to the next page. I'm going to include a long story from Kurt Russell, about the time he and Goldie Hawn sat down to watch the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, before Kurt agreed to star in the sequel. It's such a perfect Kurt Russell story, and you can read it in his voice, so it's almost like being next to him, listening to him tell it. Really, it's so great, and I think you'll like it.
So, spending time with Kurt Russell is unlike anything else. For people my age, we grew up on this icon of genre cinema, from Big Trouble in Little China and Escape from New York to The Thing. Kurt Russell's a silver screen god. But he's also a BORN storyteller, and listening to him talk about screening the first Guardians was such a treat. Here's his full blockquote. It's long, but it's worth it.
This answer came from us asking if he realized that Chris Pratt modeled his Star-Lord after Russell's own Big Trouble anti-hero, Jack Burton. Russell smiled as he began:
Well, the thing is, when I saw the first movie, I sat down with Goldie and said, 'I have to watch this movie, to see what this is they're talking about.' And I told her a lot of people are calling saying, 'Are you going to play this guy?' They're all excited about it, and she said, 'Yeah, what's that about?' And I said, 'I haven't any idea. I don't know.'
And so, she said, 'Well, did you read the script yet?' I said, 'I don't really want to read it until I see this movie and I want to see this first.' I don't remember if I actually got to do it that way. I think maybe I ended up reading the script first and then saw the movie.
So, I sat down with Goldie and I read... yeah, I DID read it first and I thought, 'Well, if I read this correctly, you know, just the music choices alone, tell me something that he writes.' And so, we sat down, and within about three minutes of watching Chris, as soon as he kicked one of those lemmings, I went, 'OK [laughter] That's cool. That's my kind of guy.' You know? 'I know where that kind of goof comes from.' And then I watched a lot of it, and went ok, that's three or four references to different things and I went, 'Yeah, OK, I'm getting this correctly. I'm reading between the lines, right?' And I thought, 'Yeah, this is really fun.'