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James Gunn Talks Guardians of the Galaxy's Casting, Use of Pop Music, More
Posted by Jeremy Thomas on 07.28.2014

James Gunn spoke with SHH's Edward Douglas about Guardians of the Galaxy, which opens on Friday. Check out the highlights:

On the use of pop music in the film: "Listen, it's sort of my natural thing. I mean, if you look at my other two movies, music had an equally important part in those films. I think other filmmakers obviously share that same sort of love of making music a part of a film. It's not different than what's in a Tarantino movie or a Paul Thomas Anderson film. It really is taking those elements and just applying them to the spectacle space opera, which is what makes it so different, because that type of movie usually isn't done with that certain specific flare. But it is just sort of naturally what I want to do. It's really that the music as a whole is so important to me, because (composer)Tyler Bates wrote the whole score before we started shooting, and that was an important aspect of the film."

On the unconventional casting like Benicio Del Toro and Glenn Close: "Yeah, I mean, again, that's my taste. Benicio Del Toro has honestly been one of my favorite actors for a long time, and when we got the opportunity to cast this role, he was one of the first people that I thought of trying to go out to. The difference with this movie is that we got almost every single person we went to because they're excited to work with Marvel. They seem to be excited to work with me, once I met with them. Benicio and I instantly got along, same thing with Glenn she was a pure delight. John C. Reilly is one of my favorite actors, Bradley Cooper is one of my favorite actors. These are all people who I was just very excited to work with. When I'm making a movie, it excites me to be able to use that movie as an opportunity to work with somebody whose work I admire."

On Lee Pace as Ronan: "Yeah, Lee auditioned for Star-Lord, and he did a really great job. I liked him a lot. Honestly, I just liked him as a guy a lot. We instantly got along. It's an incredibly important aspect to filmmaking for me is that I like the people I'm working with. I'm making this movie for two years, then I have to travel and do press junkets and all of that stuff with these people. I want to be around people who I really enjoy, whether it's the production heads or the actors. Lee was the guy who I just instantly hit it off with, so when we started casting Ronan, which we needed to cast really quickly, I called him up and I said, "Dude, will you put yourself on tape real quick and send it to me because I think that you're a physically imposing guy." That was the other thing. Lee is 6'5?. One of the problems with casting the rest of these roles is that Chris Pratt was the first person we cast, and Chris Pratt is enormous, you know? An actor like Jason Momoa would come, and he's smaller than Chris, basically. So it's like we had to have some people around Chris who would make him look somewhat small. Actors like Dave Bautista and Lee Pace are hard to come by, anybody that's bigger than Chris."

On the interaction between the CGI characters: "Yeah, and that's what it was. Sean, he was the one who sort of spearheaded [it]. That's the thing, too. If you watch a lot of those scenes where those characters are all interacting like the 12-percent scene, where they're all arguing after Rocket supposedly tries to save the gang, that's Rocket who's driving that whole scene. He's the one who's laughing at Quill. He's the one who's pushing Quill. He's the one who's asking the questions. When you have to have other actors reacting to that, that becomes a part of their performance and it's very difficult to do that without another actor there who's really driving things forward because there really is that negative space around Rocket that was created by my brother Sean. The creation of him, more than anyone else, it's Bradley Cooper, but of course, the visual effects guys had to be enormously talented actors themselves to create the character, especially the company of Framestore, who really developed the Rocket character."

On getting the whole cast individual moments in the film: "I think it was important that all the characters had an arc. They all had some place they started and all had some place they went. I knew at the heart of this movie was a movie of characters, and what would make this movie successful was if people fell in love with the characters. It would make the stakes of the action mean something if people cared about the characters. What would make the humor work is if people cared about the characters. So really, it was very important to me that all those characters worked well."

On whether he feels like the underdog of the summer: "Well, I think we are the underdog. I think the story of the "Guardians," we feel it's the story of us: me, Chris, Zoe, Dave Bautista, we all basically feel like outcasts and we banded together to do this thing that we really put our hearts into and we did the best we could with. So yeah, I think we feel like outcasts for sure. I mean, Chris, he was a big chubby guy just two years ago. Dave is a wrestler who nobody takes seriously. Zoe is a person of color who's had to fight insurmountable odds her entire career as not only a person of color but a female. Then, there's me, who was making a $3 million superhero movie about people getting their heads blown off just a couple years ago."

On whether Josh Brolin as Thanos is fully CG or not: "It was motion capture and the character, Thanos, was modeled on Josh's face, so he was modeled on Josh Brolin."


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