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James Gunn Says He Was Reluctant to Cast Chris Pratt as Star-Lord at First in Guardians of the Galaxy
Posted by Jeffrey Harris on 05.20.2014

IGN spoke with Guardians of the Galaxy director and writer James Gunn and star Chris Pratt about the character of Star-Lord and elaborated more on Pratt's casting during a previous set visit. Below are some highlights.

The film hits theaters on August 1.

Gunn on why he was reluctant to cast Pratt at first: "I was looking for someone who was, like Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man, someone who could come along and inhabit this character and add something to what was already there. I didn't want to see Chris, because I didn't think he was right for the role. I knew him a little bit from Moneyball, and I knew him as the chunky guy from Parks and Recreation… Then finally I agreed to see him. He came in and he was at probably his chunkiest. He'd gained a lot of weight for this Vince Vaughn movie. But he read, and 20 seconds into it I knew he was the guy.

Pratt on his diet and giving up beer for the role: "When I sat down with the heads at Marvel they were like, ‘Listen, you did a great job. We've tested a lot of people and none of them really have this guy's voice. None of them seem like this character except for you. But you don't look like the part at all.' They had seen me, that I had lost weight for roles previously, and they said, ‘Do you think you can do it on this timeline?' And I said, ‘I think I can.' And so they set me up with a nutritionist and two personal trainers in L.A. that I worked with like it was my job, every day for probably four hours a day at least. That's not counting food preparation and all of the hours I spent not drinking. It used to be all the hours I was drinking. Being sober was like a full-time job. Just eating right and drinking a ton of water and taking all the right supplements and vitamins and all that stuff. My world became, for the first four or five months, 100% solely dedicated to trying to become the right size."

Pratt on Kevin Feige seeing Quill as a cross between Han Solo and Marty McFly: "Someone, I think Kevin, finally told me that this stuff that they're watching looks like Han Solo meets Marty McFly. There's a sense of still very much a kid inside this guy. It's not just a hardcore man, you know what I mean? There's a kid. There's a playfulness, an element of him still being very immature and having a lot to learn, and having a lot of fun doing the things that he does."

Gunn on why he disagrees with Feige: "Kevin thinks that. That's great. I think that's a big compliment. But I really think Chris is himself. I don't think he's an amalgamation of two other characters. He really is his own thing. There's a certain way about him, and a certain way about the character, that I think is very unique. He's charming, but at the same time, he's a guy who bumbles a lot, and yet somehow through that bumbling ends up in a graceful position. He constantly does that throughout the movie. It's how Chris works as well, so it's a great amalgamation. It's a great meeting of a character and an actor."

Chris Pratt on Star-Lord's influences: "He's like Bon Jovi, John Stamos, Young Guns… He's big into that period of time. He doesn't really know any better, so he still makes these really out-of-date references that no one gets, because they're from outer space and they don't know who John Stamos is."

Pratt on Quill's 1980s mix tape: "I've listened to that thing so many times that I f**king hate all of them. It was a mistake. I was like, ‘James, this is all he's been listening to. It's probably all I should listen to!' He's like ‘Yeah, yeah, good idea.' And now I'm like, ‘Oh God, if I hear that Pina Colada song one more time…' I imagine that's how it was for Quill, too, listening to that same tape over and over again.

Pratt on Star-Lord being a tinkerer: "[Points to boots] I push this button, and then this shoots me up. They're like thrusters. They don't really work in space. They can't thrust me through space or anything like that. But if I need any help getting over a crevasse or jumping up, they give me a little bit of boost… The idea is that I kind of build some of this sh*t on my own. I'm a bit of a tinkerer. My character is a bit like a biker, in a way, like a Harley guy. He prefers to ride a motorcycle that needs a lot of maintenance. I don't ride a motorcycle in the movie, but I have a spaceship, and little things like this, that require maintenance. That's part of the point of having them."

Pratt on his spaceship: Chris Pratt: "Oh my God. It's so cool. It's like, I'm on this spaceship, getting tossed around this gimbal, and I think, this is just like a Universal Studios ride. Except instead of waiting in line, I get to wait in the luxury trailer. It's awesome."

Gunn on his belief that Star-Lord could hold his own in an exchange with Robert Downey Jr's Iron Man: "When you're a writer, you always look for who can take what you do and make it better than you imagined. Because most people are always doing sort of more vanilla versions. I love vanilla. But usually vanilla is a negative thing. Doing more vanilla versions of what you wrote, doing it in a less imaginative way than what you had imagined. With so many people on this movie, the thing is always, who can improve whatever my idea is… Chris brought his own personality to this character that really fit the words perfectly, but was also himself. He was also somebody… Everybody else, I thought, would kind of get run over by Robert Downey Jr. if they were ever in a movie together. I always thought that he was so great as Tony Stark. To have somebody who could inhabit the role in the same way, who could take control of the character. I think that Chris could completely hold his own and exchange barbs with him and then kick his ass."


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