The man charged with telling a story no one really knew pulled it off with a bang and made Guardians of the Galaxy a household name. Sitting down and listening to James Gunn, Director of Guardians of the Galaxy, talk to us about his inspiration for his characters and worlds gave me a deeper understanding of what he was trying to do and made me love the film even more.
James Gunn: Director of Guardians of the Galaxy
Do you have a love for dance?
Yeah, I do. When I say, Kevin Bacon is a great national hero, I mean it. I love dancing, and, I love pop music. I love super heroes and I love space adventures. And I love raccoons. So I have all the things I love in one movie.
Does Kevin Bacon know about this?
Does Kevin know that I love him? You know, Kevin was in my last movie. And he doesn’t know it, so we’ve got to keep it quiet. I don’t think he knows yet. I was supposed to invited him to the New York premiere. Maybe I’ll text him after I get out of here. But I’m excited, for him to see it.
You’re a director, producer, and you’re an actor. Is there anything that you don’t do?
Yeah, there’s a lot of things I could never do. You know. I think really what I do best is picking other people. And finding what other people are good at, and sort of arranging those in a way that makes a good movie. And I think that’s really what a good director is able to do.
What drew you to Guardians of the Galaxy?
I think the main thing that drew me to Guardians of the Galaxy was the ability to create a whole new wing of the Marvel universe. I would find it very difficult to make a sequel to another Marvel movie or even making another earthbound Marvel movie that’s leading directly into The Avengers because you’re working so much within the world that’s already been created. With Guardians, I was able to create, not just a new world, but new worlds and new characters, new species. I found that to be just the most freeing thing ever.
When I was a little boy, I had a box that I would put drawings in. And this box, I was sort of obsessed with. I was obsessed with the solar system and all the different planets. I would make, drawings for each one of the different planets and of the species that lived on that planet including their pets were, what their houses looked like, and what their water systems were like. This box became filled over time with this sort of universe inside of it, that I created. And that is, that’s where my heart was. And that’s still where my heart is because that’s what this movie is.
Who is your favorite Guardian and Why?
The one I feel the most connected to is Rocket. I feel the outcast in Rocket. And although I think that Rocket is the meanest Guardian and I think he’s the most selfish Guardian, I think he’s probably the Guardian that learns the least at the end of the movie. He is the saddest. It’s very strange but I feel like he’s just this little mangled guy that is completely alone in this world. There’s nothing else like him, he’s been torn apart and put back together again. He was originally an innocent little animal, I love animals to begin with. I’ve come to love him. I probably had the greatest time creating Rocket over any of the other Guardians. Rocket and Groot both. Because that really, unlike Star-Lord, Chris and I have to be on the same level. I write his dialogue, he says it. I pull this stuff out of him, he adds stuff. We’re creating a character together, with Rocket, and there’s a lot more people involved. It’s much more like conducting a symphony, within one character. To make somebody alive you know? It tends to become more of a real character to me.
How does it feel to do a PG-13 movie that is geared more towards a younger audience, versus your R rated movie?
I loved it! When I set out to make this movie I didn’t set out to make a movie that was like the movies I loved as a kid. RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, and STAR WARS, and these films. I wanted to make a movie that would make kids and adults feel like I felt when I saw those movies. Something that would actively inspire imagination. I found it in the great opportunity to make a movie that was about family, about friendship. I think in the world, everybody thinks it’s so important to be cool and important to be hip and show how you don’t care. This movie is the exact opposite. It’s a movie about caring. It’s a movie that allows emotions into a spectacle film, which is extremely rare. Real characters and real people with flaws. Not exactly real people, real aliens, monsters and that stuff.
With the Marvel cinematic universe expanding exponentially, are there any characters you’d like to see together in a story? Or in a movie?
I would love to tell the Rocket and Groot story for sure. I love them, but you know, at the same time I’d love to tell the Drax story as well, or the Gamora story. I think they’re all interesting enough to me. I also would love to do a Nebula film. It’s something I actually think about a lot. I think that all those characters could go off on their own direction.
In the Guardians comics there is a lot of interplay with the Avengers. Was there any interconnection or conversations that you had with Joss Wheedon, on what he has done or is doing, with the Avengers?
Yes, for sure. I would talk to Joss because I didn’t want to contradict future plans. And really the one piece of connective tissue is Thanos, he’s the guy who’s at the end of The Avengers. He’s the guy who’s the character in our movie, and he will likely show up in future Marvel movies. That was something that I had conversations with Joss about all the, the Thanos aspects of things.
What was the most difficult thing to bring to the big screen?
Definitely the most difficult thing was the CGI characters because we had to make them as real and believable and as loveable as the rest of the characters in the movie. I am beyond a perfectionist when it comes to visual effects. I’m very very hard on visual effects people. I try to get the most out of them. My eyes are really difficult and harsh on that stuff. So that was the long road.
Were there hilarious antics that took place while filming?
One of our great moments was in the dance off. We didn’t tell Dave Bautista. I went up to Chris and Zoe and Lee Pace and said, “When Chris challenges you to a dance-off, take him up on it.” So Chris started dancing. And then Ronan goes, “You got it, pal, you’re on!” He throws down his hammer and he’s doing this ridiculous dance that his six foot five frame in this gigantic metal object could do. He’s dancing, and then Gamora starts dancing. And then they turn it over to Dave and Dave is like, “Oh, no.” And he did it, he just started dancing. Then about 200 extras that we had on set started dancing. My brother who plays Rocket on set, started dancing. I have it all on film! It will be on the DVD for sure.