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'Guardians Of The Galaxy' Director James Gunn Discusses Working With Joss Whedon, Sequels, Marvel "Risks" & More

Photo of Drew Taylor By Drew Taylor | The Playlist July 31, 2014 at 12:03PM

This week's "Guardians of the Galaxy" pushes the Marvel Cinematic Universe into strange and surprising places. And the person piloting that particular spaceship is co-writer/director James Gunn, who took a relatively obscure property about a group of intergalactic outlaws and turned it into one of the summer's more outrageously entertaining confections. It's both a break from your standard superhero fare and keeps totally within the pre-existing mythological framework—and it should both expand the brand and reinforce its power in the cinematic landscape. We talked to Gunn about how he snagged A-list stars, what the movie's chief influences were, the situation with "Ant-Man," and where Gunn (and the 'Guardians') fit into the larger cinematic puzzle.
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Guardians Of The Galaxy

There are a lot of A-list actors who you wouldn't normally expect—like Benicio del Toro, Glenn Close, and John C. Reilly—how did you snag them?
I think they were fans of Marvel and I think they liked the script and I think, more importantly, we got along. I had to have meetings with all of them, or get on the phone with them, and I skyped with Del Toro. And we did that all very early on. Those are three of my favorite actors and three people I really admire and the opportunity to put them in a Marvel movie, in a large or a small way, was very exciting for me. I was choosing my favorite actors and going to them and telling them what the situation was. And I think, in some ways, I know Benicio went into it thinking the script was good and he and I definitely got along, but now that he's seen the movie, he really gets the whole picture.

"I think any of these 'Guardians' characters are worthy of a spin-off movie."

What was it like working with two of your main actors not being cast?
I've worked a lot with characters who weren't there in the past, so it wasn't too weird. In some ways, it's easy, because every take that your non-existent characters are there, it's perfect, because you don't have to worry about performance there on the day. I think it was really about creating the right dynamic with the dialogue, between the actors. And that's really where my brother, Sean Gunn, came in. He was the negative space that Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana and Dave Bautista bounced off of. And if you look at the Guardians when we were on set, Sean was a vital part of those guys—he came in every day, totally prepared, and he had to drive a lot of those scenes forward. Rocket really drives a lot of those scenes—you look at that 12% scene for example. He's this ingredient and he hopefully gets the attention he deserves.

This seems like the reverse "Avengers," where you set up the universe and you spin them off from that.
That's a great way to state it. I like that.

Who do you think is best suited for their own spin-off?
I think any of these characters are worthy of a spin-off movie. And not even just the main characters, but I wouldn't mind seeing Yondu or Nebula or any of those other characters get spun off too. I think there are a lot of interesting characters in this world that I'd love to develop further.

Guardians Of The Galaxy


Do you have any idea where the sequel will be headed?
Well, ever since the beginning I had an idea of where these characters are going. For me, this isn't one story, it's really about beginning the journey of these characters as a team and as individuals. I think it's really about… I always had an idea about where these characters are going. I know a lot of things about Drax and Rocket that have yet to come. And it's really not so much about what those stories are but how those will be partitioned in films—how much we tell in any one of these films. I know a lot about Peter Quill's father and there's only three people that do—me, Kevin Feige, and Michael Rooker. And I only told Rooker because he's delivering him to his father, so I had to tell him the backstory of all that.

Rooker's got a big mouth.
He's also got a short memory, so I'm not too worried about it.

There's some speculation that Joss Whedon will step down after "Avengers 2"—would you want to take over?
I love Joss but I love the 'Guardians.' So I hope we can continue this team. I don't think it's something that are like the minor leagues and 'The Avengers' are the major leagues. I'd rather bring the 'Guardians' on this movie or the potential next movie—I want to do that. I love these characters and I love outer space and there are so many stories you can tell out there. That's really my interest right now.

This article is related to: James Gunn, Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy, Interviews, Interviews, Interview, Chris Pratt


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