There aren’t many actors that can brag about being in the business for most if their life, and do so in a way that is not arrogant in the least bit. In this Kurt Russell Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 Interview, Kurt talks about playing Ego, and how his ego is in check, even though having one in Hollywood is important, as long as it’s healthy.
Kurt Russell has been actively working as an actor since he was a child. At 10 years old, he signed a 10-year contract with Disney and well, the rest is cinematic history. In this interview, he not only talks candidly about taking on his first Marvel film, and how he manages not to be type-cast so he can keep on working. If I tell you that he is one of the nicest living Hollywood legends you could possibly meet, it’s almost an understatement. He’s fantastic and still has that “melt-your-heart” smile and baby blues that see your soul. I hope you have as much fun reading this interview as I had taking part.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 yet, you may want to come back to this interview after. There are some spoilers in this interview that I encourage you on waiting to read this until you have seen the movie.
Kurt Russell Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 Interview
Of course, he walks in, and we burst out in applause. He’s as handsome as ever, and once again, so very nice.
Well, you guys are in a good mood. How are you doing today?
Ahhh, those dimples!
As he takes a seat he realizes very quickly he can’t see who is asking the question, and he clearly likes to address the person speaking –
Why don’t I just stand up ‘cause I can’t see you?
How did you get involved with Guardians of the Galaxy?
I was doing this publicity stunt for Tarantino’s movie, The Hateful Eight, and one day all of a sudden, you know, boom-boom-boom-boom-boom-boom-boom (looking at his cell phone) started to go off, which is very rare for me. And I don’t have a lotta telephone action. I don’t, you know, do media stuff on it, so it was literally like…they were all the same thing. Oh wait, this is great, this is exciting, are you gonna do this? And then the people in the interview started to ask me, are you gonna do this Guardians of the Galaxy? Are you gonna play Peter Quill’s father?
I literally had no idea what they were talking about ‘cause I hadn’t seen the movie. And I just said, no. And it was like, wow, whatever this is they’re excited about it. The next day kinda got the official word, and I said well guys, I need to read it and I need to see the movie. When I saw the movie right away I kinda fell in love with it, and it just got better and better. But more than anything else I was kinda watching Chris and saying, yeah, I get that energy. I get that, kinda that style.
I realized from movies that I had done in the past, that I would bring the right baggage here. And as I read the screenplay, it was even more so. I wanted to do it but I also – have you guys seen the movie or not?
So, I don’t know how much we can say and give away here…
So I was gonna do the movie, because of the reaction that I got, I was concerned that the audience would go in thinking, oh great, this is just right. We’re so happy that he’s gonna have adventures with his dad, and it’s Kurt Russell, and he’s working…and I hate this movie. (laughter) And Kurt Russell’s responsible for killing this for me. And I said, I just wanna make sure we hit the right notes here, James.
Anyway, started talking about it and I felt very comfortable with James. I thought his hand was solidly on it. He knew what he was doing. And then, of course, working with Chris, primarily, that was just right. As soon as Chris and I saw each other we just kinda smiled, gave each other a hug and said this is clearly right. So that was kind of the early stages and the first processes of it.
Do you think it turned out the way you hoped?
Yeah, it was important… For instance, the one thing that I would like to have seen is about fifteen seconds more of playing catch.
However, your reaction is proof that you shouldn’t do that. Because if you go too far with that relationship there’s gonna be something very wrong with this. You know, it is a son, killing his father. So you gotta be very careful with that. That, I mean, you know, when you watch the movie that doesn’t look like a problem. It’s perfect. You hate him, you wanted to get him and put him out. But when you’re doing it, you don’t know these things. You can only assume them and try to play the scenes that are there correctly to make that final moment what it should be.
And you have to go all the way from being kinda cool and loving and fun to just, who f*ck do you think you are? We’ve all said that to our kids, “Who the hell do you think you are?” (laughter) I could hear myself, you know. I was literally, you know – “You go to your room!” (laughter) So, it was all in that zone, and it kinda had to have some of that tone to it so you could enjoy as a parent, I think, some of that reprimand. And, you tell somebody that lives a thousand years as a battery, he means it.
So you’ve done amazing work through the years.
And you’re adored by millions of fans. Have you found that the Marvel fan base is different than other types of fans that you’ve encountered?
Well, first of all, I’ve never done a Marvel movie. I’ve done lots of Disney movies. The fact that they came together, I think kinda says they understand each other and they’ve obviously been doing this. Yeah, I don’t know what the reaction will be. I do think that Disney, having done them, there’s a different energy to these movies.
The trick is, and what I’ve tried to do all my life is, I was just an actor who didn’t wanna do the same thing. I just didn’t for some reason that just repulsed me. It made me not wanna do it. And then in Hollywood a lot of times if you have something that’s successful, the next thirty scripts you read are gonna be in that zone. So I disappointed a lotta people by saying, I get it. I get why you want me to do it. But, if you’ll notice, I just did that. I don’t wanna do that now, I passed that math test and I wanna go on to this English test now.
And in saying that, and in doing that you create confusion, and a whiplash sort of career where they can’t pigeonhole you, but they’re not necessarily happy about that. Even critics and reviewers are not necessarily happy about that. I guess a tendency is, human beings, too, if you see something, like it and then wanna see more of it. That also applies to whole movies where you see a movie you like so let’s do it again. Let’s do Overboard again, or Big Trouble In Little China over. Let’s do Escape From New York again or Tombstone. They’ve only done fifty-six Tombstone, forty-five I think, or forty-six of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday thing. So my job was to skip around genres. Skip around characters. Find stories that I liked, that I wanted to see. Characters that I wanted to play.
And try to challenge me with giving the director as many options as possible with takes so that he could, or she could, put the movie together. When you do that you’re putting a lot of trust in the director. The other way of doing it is you give him one thing, which is not to say you don’t do that. Miracle was a movie where I had to get in character, and then you stay there.
And I think there’s room for both, and I’ve done that. I just skipped around genres. And I really enjoy that. I just – that’s what keeps me going. It keeps me fired up. I’m an inveterate people watcher. I just like to… I’ll do that in this room, you know. (laughter) I’ll see somebody. Oh, that’s a good- that’s a- yeah, that’s a good one.
And then years later you’ll read something, and you go, oh, that reminds me of that woman was in the third row, she had the… (laughter) What was that? What was she doin’? You know. I gotta use that.
You’ve done so many different characters, is there like a one that you want to play?
Not really. I’ve concerned myself a few times and am right now actually a little bit with creating some things. But I’m more of a hired gun, and I really enjoy that. So I just sorta wait until I read something. Wait for the phone to ring, and if it’s not ringin’ then I’m goin’ to the vineyard, you know.
Kurt owns a vineyard GoGi in Sta Rita Hills of Santa Barbara County.
How much of yourself is in Ego?
I got a healthy ego. (laughter) I do. I think that’s important in our industry and our business and as a human being to have control of your ego. But I think you should have a healthy one. If you don’t have a healthy one, you’re gonna have other problems. Ego is…I love names and characters. You can go back through my litany of characters, and you’re gonna find at least twelve great names. I think that’s important. And if they don’t have a great name, I give ‘em a great name. (laughter)
I was very disappointed with when I read this, the character’s name was J’son. And I said, yeah, well fifteen Marvel people will know who this is. That’s a weak-ass name. And then, later on, being to find out that well actually his name is Ego the Living Planet. And I went that’s more like it. (laughter) So how much of myself is there? I don’t know. Listen, if you’re gonna play God let’s go big. (laughter) You know, so I think this movie has a lot to say about that.
I mean it’s such an obvious thing when you first meet him, and the first thing out of his mouth is, my name is Ego. He’s very proud of that, and you gotta understand that he’s made everything in his life. He chose to come to earth and look like Kurt Russell. (laughter) That’s a choice. (laughter) And his son is not… The apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree. If he doesn’t know who his father is he’s gonna create this guy who’s like, hey, David Hasselhoff.
And it has that right note of comedy and- and yet correctness to it. I thought that was great- I love all the layers of that stuff. And I don’t like to shy away from what’s fun about the joke, all levels of the joke. When you consider all levels of the joke, you’re gonna be in there somewhere. And that’s one of my things that I’ll pat myself on the back for that more than a lot of other actors.
You’ll see a lot of actors, and you can tell, I don’t think that guy has much self-humor. They don’t find much about themselves funny. I can name a lot of ‘em. (laughter) I like actors and what they can do. I love working with ‘em, but self-humor is a funny thing, and I think that’s probably where Chris Pratt and I probably share a lot.
When we talked on set, you had said that a lot of the spontaneity is lost on green screen or blue screen. Is there anything after seeing the movie that you wish you could have seen in it?
Not really. Not much. Those are big spaces. What wasn’t there was like a room like this with twelve glasses in it. And gee, I wish I’d known those were gonna be there, I woulda knocked those outta the way when we were fighting. It would be great to go through those. Or I cut myself. A million things you can come up with, you know. That big wide like, Hey!!, like oh Jesus. Right. I didn’t know it was gonna be there. So that’s what I was talking about. With this movie, mostly it’s backdrop. We had enough there to give us what was goin’ on. So it was nice to see the movie because you can see the pictures when you’re working. But it’s nice to see the finished project when I saw that.
In the opening scene where you were younger, can you talk about that process?
That guy right there. (pointing to a man in the room) That guy right there, his name is Dennis Liddiard. He’s been my makeup man for twenty-eight years. We’ve done a lot of movies together where our goal was to, without the audience knowing it, help me arrive at what I need to do to set the tone for the character, the look for the character, the feel for the character. And I think we’ve achieved it many times. Very subtly. So much so that nobody knows what he did.
On this one, I’m really proud to point him out because we assumed, all of us, that for that we were just gonna do heavy CGI special effects like they normally do. He knows my face really, really well. And he can really do a lot here to bring me down.
Dennis asked if he de-age me some, does that help? And they said as much as you can help. Yes. That helps very much. When he was done and when I got the right hair going (laughing), which is very important. And when he got the wardrobe going, and then the actor can see that, and begin to feel that and, in the case of yourself, say yeah that’s a younger me. It’s time for me to go to work and slip into all of that and take advantage of all of that, and go be younger.
Go play younger. You lighten your voice; you move a little quicker, you go to work with that. I think the reason this one worked, everybody has said; this looks so…this is amazing. This is- really looks real. Is it because there’s not much CGI here. And I ran into the woman last night who’s the head of that department. She came up all excited, and she said, what did you think about what we did to you? And I said, I thought it was great, but I heard it wasn’t very much. She said, no it wasn’t. (laughter) And I said, yeah, he’s got some tricks up his sleeve, and he pulled them all out.
And in fact did it very fast. It hadn’t been asked of him. So there’s hope for all of us. (laughter) You guys know a lot more about that than we do. But you have somebody who knows your f face, and you gotta have a face that you can work with. That’s true, you know. And, but he knows my face and so they did some CGI and stuff there, but mostly that’s that guy right there.
Read more of my Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 Posts
Guardians of the Galaxy opens May 5, 2017
*I was invited by Disney/Marvel to attend a special press trip to share my experience with my readers. All opinions are my own.