From Marvel Studios, the highly anticipated sequel Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has more action, more laughs and more heart than the first installment (which already had a lot!), adding intriguing new allies and unexpected new enemies, all while further expanding the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This time around, the story follows the ragtag team as they protect the universe doing mercenary work for hire around the cosmos, and Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), finally unravels the mysteries of his true parentage.
At a conference during the film’s press day, co-stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana (“Gamora”), Dave Bautista (“Drax”), Karen Gillan (“Nebula”), Michael Rooker (“Yondu”), Kurt Russell (“Ego”), Sylvester Stallone (“Stakar”), Sean Gunn (“Kraglin”), Pom Klementieff (“Mantis”) and Elizabeth Debicki (“Ayesha”) talked about what convinced the new cast members to sign on, what the returning cast members were most excited about, killing time during crazy make-up transformations, the role of women in the Guardians universe, the importance of having someone to interact with on set for Rocket, how Drax’s laugh evolved, seeing people dressed as their characters at sci-fi conventions, and so much more.
Question: For the new members of the cast, what ultimately convinced you to join this film?
ELIZABETH DEBICKI: Well, James convinced me, obviously. He’s extremely persuasive, not that I needed convincing.
KURT RUSSELL: The truth is that, when I read the script, I wanted to make sure I was understanding it correctly. I hadn’t seen the first movie. I’m not much of a moviegoer. I knew that everybody loved it, though. When I saw the movie, I immediately started getting it. I also immediately started wanting to do it. Because everybody loved the first one, what I didn’t want to do was something that was gonna make them not like the second one. I told James that. I said, “I don’t want to mess this thing up, so I need your help.”
SYLVESTER STALLONE: It was interesting because I love action films, but I haven’t ventured into this genre, so it was quite an experience. When you walk on the set, you see robots and seven-feet tall woman. I thought it was great. It was a great vacation. It’s better than being up a tree in Burma. Much better. Trust me.
POM KLEMENTIEFF: It was incredible. I had such an amazing time. I had an incredible time with the cast and with the director. It was one of my best experiences ever, so I can’t wait to do it again.
Was there an initiation process involved, at all?
DEBICKI: My first day on set was when we were shooting in the throne room, and I was terrified of playing this extremely powerful creature, which is a great juxtaposition in your head. So, I remember sitting up on the throne for a long time, and all of the Guardians were in front of me. It was so intimidating, and it was about two hours before we spoke to each other. They all came up in this line to say hello. I was like, “Please come say hello to me!” And then, it was fine after that.
For the returning cast members, what were you most excited about, with returning to this, and what was the least exciting part of the process?
ZOE SALDANA: My favorite part was the make-up process. I’m joking. What I loved the most, and it may sound selfish, was definitely the relationship between Gamora and Nebula. I’m one of three sisters, and I have been itching and yearning to see more of a female presence in action films because I love action films. I’m not that deep. I love watching The Equalizer, and I’ll watch that 50 times, over any kind of dramatic piece. And so, to have a film with three female characters that are adding such unique qualities, and who are very relevant and their relationships are explored deeply, I was appreciative and super excited and, in a way, anxious. I know that Gamora is a much more reserved character, so we couldn’t make it as soap opera as I would have wanted to. I wanted to be crying with nose goo, and James was like, “You’re like the Clint Eastwood of the movie.” And my least favorite thing was obviously the make-up process.
SEAN GUNN: My favorite thing was working with everybody again. It’s really a gift when you have a bunch of artists come together to collaborate on something, and everyone is really putting their heart into it and really believes in the script and in the movie. These aren’t people just punching the clock. We get along well and respect one another a great deal. So, just going back and being part of that process is awesome.
DAVE BAUTISTA: It was really a luxury to come back into a recurring role, not only where I was comfortable with the character, but where I was so comfortable with my cast members. They’re people that I love and care about, and I knew they weren’t going to judge me, so I didn’t have to feel self-conscious about anything that I did. They just accept me for who I am and they appreciate me, and they are also confident that I will deliver for them. That was my biggest luxury in this.
Chris, were you able to keep your cool, having Kurt Russell on set as your dad?
CHRIS PRATT: You know, you promise yourself that you’re not gonna do this thing that happens every time you meet someone who’s an icon. You’ve known them way longer than they’ve ever known you, and you’ve seen all of their stuff. You have this opportunity, from time to time, where you’re lucky to work with someone like Kurt Russell, and you promise yourself that you’re not gonna do the thing where you geek out, but it’s a little inauthentic if you don’t. If you just go in there and you’re like, “Hey, nice to meet you, Kurt,” and you don’t acknowledge the fact that you love him and what a fan you are, then it feels a little inauthentic. So, I did that immediately. It doesn’t really take that long to tell someone that you love them and you really respect their work, and for them to go, “Yeah, thanks!” And then, that’s it. At that point, you move forward. The greatest part of it is that you become their friend and peer rather than a fan, and that’s really nice. I think Kurt and I have become friends. We connected on a lot of things, outside of just the movie. I have his cell phone number.
Karen, what’s it like for you to be back in this universe, and how is it different from being in the Doctor Who universe?
KAREN GILLAN: It’s amazing to be welcomed back into this. I had such a good time on the first film. I was this evil villain, watching from the sidelines, so to be so involved, this time around, was a complete honor. And it’s pretty different to Doctor Who. I’ve spent some time in space, so I’m accustomed to that, but this feels like a whole other thing. I’m an alien, and I played a human before, so that just frees me up, as an actor. I can just make any choice, and it could be valid, so that’s quite fun, as an actor. But I guess it has its similarities, as well. It has such a loyal fan base, and that’s the most exciting thing, to actually be in something that people care about. That’s quite rare. People are so passionate about it. That’s what I love about sci-fi, in general.
Michael, was it ever hard to keep a straight face, with such funny dialogue?
MICHAEL ROOKER: It’s not too hard to keep a straight face, especially when you have a scene with Chris Pratt. He’s not very funny. He’s adorable and all of that, and he does say some interesting things, every now and then, but he’s so high-brow compared to my comedy. It wasn’t hard to keep a straight face, at all.
For those of you that have to go through a make-up transformation, how do you get through it?
SALDANA: It was four hours.
KLEMENTIEFF: Mine was three and a half to four and a half hours, too.
SALDANA: It can take a long time. I just talk my team to death. I don’t shut up. From 2:30 in the morning until we’re on set and James says “Action!,” I just keep talking. I feel like that’s how I get time to go by. If not, I’ll just go crazy. There’s not much to do at 2:30 in the morning, besides sleep. You can’t eat, and you can’t really move around that much because they need your hands and your face, and your mouth needs to be shut. If you open your mouth, you’re going to get a whole bunch of green paint sprayed into your mouth. So, you’re on your phone and you talk in between.
GILLAN: For me, it’s actually become my ritual of getting into character. It was quite interesting, I did this rehearsal as Nebula, not in make-up, and I just didn’t feel like her. It’s an imperative part of the process for me now. I literally get to wear her skin, which is like the closest I can get to her, so that’s cool.
BAUTISTA: I’m ashamed to even talk about it. It’s not really a labor, at all. It’s about an hour and a half, and I literally just zone out for the whole hour and a half. I just tune out.
Kurt, what did you think of seeing the retro version of yourself in the film?
RUSSELL: You know, that was pretty interesting. I didn’t really think about that a lot because they’ve got all the trickery in the world. Dennis Liddiard’s been my makeup man for 28 movies, and before we went in there, he said to James and the cinematographer, “Hey, I can young this guy down. I’ve got some tricks in my bag. Would that be helpful?” And they said, “Yeah, as much as you can. That would be great!” I spoke to the gal who does the CGI and she said, “What did you think of what we did?” I said, “I thought it was great, but I understand you didn’t do a whole lot.” She said, “No, we didn’t. We just touched it up, here and there.” He did a fantastic job. He does have a lot of tricks, and not just make-up. There’s a lot that goes into it, actually. It’s not just what you think. Without giving away things, because I hate giving away tricks, you have to create an impression and not an image. You want audiences to look at certain places and not look at other places. And when you’ve got the help of modern-day abilities with technology, it’s a much more natural look
There is a shirtless scene with Star-Lord in this, so do you feel like we’re in an era now where men are being objectified in movies, and that it’s not just women?
PRATT: You know, it’s a good question. It hasn’t hurt my career. We are objects. It’s true. We’re props. They paint us up with make-up, and they take a camera and point it at us. Half the time, what ruins it is us talking. As a man, I can say that, but I have to be careful because, for generations and for millennia, women have been objectified in a way that there’s a pretty horrifying past around, so it is a little bit different. I don’t know if you’d call it a double standard, but I think you have to deal with them separately because there’s a history of objectification that is a sensitive issue. So, I can say objectification is good for me because, when I turned my body into an object that people like, I got paid a lot of money, and now my grandkids are gonna go to a great college because of that object. But you have to be a little sensitive about that because there are a lot more great roles that are written for men than there have been for women.
DEBICKI: I think it’s a really interesting question, but it always has to be about context. For me, as an actress, whenever I’ve made the choice to do something like that, it’s always about the context you’re shooting it in, the story, and what you’re trying to say with your director and with the other actors. I have personally never felt objectified, but I really think about it. I think it has to have purpose, always. It has to progress the story or a relationship or the image of whatever your character is onscreen. It was lovely to play Ayesha because she’s powerful and she keeps all her clothes on. Sometimes a lot of heavy clothing.