We have two actors to thank for Rocket Raccoon's appearances in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. The first is Bradley Cooper, who voices the wisecracking, mutated mammal. The second is Sean Gunn, who, in addition to his duties as Ravager member Kraglin, performs Rocket during principal photography. While some fans might wonder Cooper doesn't just play Rocket on-set when the cameras are rolling, director James Gunn recently explained why his brother Sean is the right man for that particular job, mainly attributing it to the physicality necessary to properly portray Rocket. As Gunn put it:
Sean Gunn is not a stand-in. He is a motion reference actor. That means we film everything Sean does on set as Rocket. We film it. I don't stop doing takes of him until we get the performance right and then we use that performance as a basis for much of Rocket's acting. And he does a fantastic job in that role. He knows it. He understands it. And also very important, Sean is able to physically do something most actors aren't able to do, which is waddle around on all fours. He's always been an incredibly limber guy that can to do a lot of strange physical things. And the fact that he's able to waddle around on his legs all day long at the exact height of Rocket is quite a feat and quite quite difficult.
James Gunn was asked by a fan during his most recent Facebook Live stream if he would ever consider using Bradley Cooper as the "stand-in" for Rocket Raccoon in if the actor were available. Gunn quickly reminded those watching that Sean Gunn is a "motion reference actor." So not only is he used as a frame of reference for the other actors when performing scenes, but he's also delivering the lines that will later be spouted off by Cooper. More importantly, Sean Gunn is especially talented at handing the Rocket movements that not a lot of other actors may be able to pull off. So even if there was an opening in Cooper's schedule, Gunn will be sticking with Sean when it comes to the main Guardians of the Galaxy shoots. Sean has also acknowledged how difficult it is playing Rocket, as he said a few weeks ago that he has to stay in good shape or else he risks dealing with extra pain in his ankles, feet and ribcage.
Rocket Raccoon will once again be one of the principal players in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and this time moviegoers will see him having a "crisis of faith" about whether or not he truly belongs on this team of intergalactic troublemakers. While the exact plans for a third Guardians of the Galaxy movie haven't been ironed out yet, Rocket and his teammates are returning next year for Avengers: Infinity War. Sean Gunn will be back on his knees as Rocket for Earth's Mightiest Heroes' third movie, but there's no word yet on whether we can also expect Kraglin to appear in the blockbuster or its follow-up, Avengers 4.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 hits theaters on May 5.