I love creative people. When you meet someone who is so creative that they make things that normally wouldn’t make any sense make compete sense, and do it without you even knowing it…yeah, that pretty much describes Guardians of the Galaxy Director James Gunn. He’s wonderfully odd and brilliant.
James Gunn Director of Guardians of the Galaxy
When James walks into the interview room, the chatter of the 25 bloggers was instantly interrupted with applause. Well deserved. If you have seen Guardians of the Galaxy already, then you totally understand why. If you haven’t, what are you waiting for?
I didn’t know it was gonna be so many people. (Laughing) So many Iphones. (Laughing) You guys have been tweeting me and I love it, I love it. Yeah, I love it. (Still laughing)
Tell us about your love for dance!
Yeah, I do, yeah. When I say, you know, Kevin Bacon is a great national hero, I mean it. I love dancing, and I love pop music. And 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?
(Laughing) Does Kevin — he knows that I love him. Kevin was in my last movie. And he doesn’t know (about the reference to him in GOTG) so we’ve got to keep it quiet. I don’t think he knows yet. I’m supposed to invite him to the New York premiere. I’m excited for him to see it.
James Gunn didn’t only direct Guardians of the Galaxy, he also is one of the writers of the film and even has a small role as one of the Maskless Sakaaran Warriors.
So you write, act and direct, what don’t you do?
Well, film making wise, I could never be a DP (Director of Photography). I mean, I’m just not able to do it. 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. And then I have a basic knowledge of most parts of film making. So that I can have a conversation with those people, just sort of bring a film to the desired place.
What drew you to Guardians of the Galaxy?
I think the main thing that drew me to Guardians was the ability to create a whole new wing of the Marvel universe. I would find a very difficult time say making 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. And with Guardians I was able to create, not just a new world, but new worlds, new characters, and new species. And I found that to be just the most freeing thing ever. When I was a little boy, I had a box. And this box, I was sort of obsessed with. I was obsessed with the solar system and all the different planets. And I would make drawings for each one of the different planets, of the species that lived on that planet. What their pets were. And what their houses looked like, what their water systems were like. And 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’s your favorite Guardian and why?
Well, the one I feel the most connected to is Rocket. Because I feel the outcast in Rocket. And although I think that Rocket is the meanest Guardian, I think he’s the most selfish Guardian and I think he’s probably the Guardian that learns the least at the end of the movie. He is the saddest. And, (Lauging) well, it’s very strange. Very strange I connected ’cause I started to get (Laughing) emotional.
We all give him an awwwwww….
But I feel, I feel like (Laughing) 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. So I’ve come to love him. And I think probably also because, I probably had the greatest time in creating Rocket over any of the other Guardians. Rocket and Groot both. Because unlike Star-Lord, Chris and I have to be on the same level.
And see that we see things in the same way. 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 there’s a lot more people involved. It’s, it’s much more like conducting a symphony within one character. To make somebody alive and so it tends to become more of a real character to me.
How’s it feel doing a PG-13 movie, knowing it’s gonna be geared more towards a younger audience, versus your R rated movie?
I loved it, I mean, when I set out to make this movie, (I wanted to make something) like the movies I loved as a kid. Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Star Wars, and these films. But I wanted to make a movie that would make kids and adults feel like I felt when I saw this movie. You know, something that would actively inspire imagination. Something that could touch me both and I found it in the great opportunity to make a movie that was about family, about friendship. I think in the world, it’s so important to be cool and so important to like be hip and show how you don’t care. And 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, real people with flaws. Not exactly real people, real aliens. Monsters and that stuff.
With the Marvel cinematic universe expanding exponentially, are there a of couple 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. Yeah, I love them. But you know, at the same time, I’d love to do the Drax movie. I’d love to do the Gamora film. I think they’re all interesting enough to me. I want to do the Nebula film. It’s something I actually think about a lot. I think that all those characters, I have a deep enough connection to that, they 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 mean, I would talk to Joss, ’cause I didn’t want to do anything that was gonna 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. I would have conversations with Joss about all the, the Thanos aspects of things. And even down to the casting, I would talk to Joss.
What was the most difficult thing to bring to the big screen?
Most difficult thing to bring. Well, definitely the most difficult were the CGI characters, ’cause we had to make them as real and believable and as loveable as the rest of the characters in the movie. And I am beyond a perfectionist when it comes to visual effects. I’m very very hard on visual effects people, to try to get the most out of them. And 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?
(Laughing very hard) One of our great moments was in the dance off. We didn’t tell Dave Bautista. I went up to Lee Pace, Chris and Zoe. Lee Pace who plays Ronan, and I said, “When Chris challenges you to a dance-off, you know, take him up on it.” (Laughing) And so Chris started dancing. And then Ronan goes, “You got it, pal, you’re on!” And 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. And 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 did, he just started dancing and then, we had about 200 extras on set or something. And all of them started dancing, my brother who plays Rocket on set, started dancing. And I have it all on film, it’s one of my favorite things. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’ll be on the DVD, for sure.
With Rocket it was really interesting to hear that character. So how was it working with Bradley Cooper doing a voice-over for that?
Intensely. I think Bradley had the hardest job of anyone on this movie. Because I had such a specific idea of who Rocket was. By the time we recorded him, we had already shot the whole movie. My brother played Rocket on the set. He was an integral part of the team on set. And you know, you talk to the other actors, Sean is what creates the dynamic between those, those five characters on set. He’s a, a part of that. So Bradley had a lot of hopes of mine that he had to fulfill. And the first time he came in, the first day he recorded, was probably the most relieving day I’ve had on the entire film. Because I always knew the movie would work if Rocket worked. He worked very very well. And thank God Bradley is a pretty egoless guy. Which is strange for someone who is as handsome and talented as he is. He was like, “Listen, if you have a line reading you want to give me, if you want me to say a line like your brother said it, just let me know.” And I didn’t always take him up on that. But occasionally I would. Bradley did things thousands of times. And we recorded whole scenes that we did with his voice. And we put him in the scene and I was like, I think we gotta go do it again. ‘Cause Bradley sounds like a little bit different than he did the other day. Or, Bradley is a little too angry. He’s not angry enough. And then we’d go back and rerecord it. And that’s one of the difficulties when you’re doing a voice actor, you can kind of keep doing it again and again and again and again. And I did.
James Gunn talks about working with Marvel’s characters, developing the unique tone and feel of the film, and being on the Red Carpet!