‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’: Chris Pratt on How the Power Stone Comes into Play
Chris Pratt returns as Peter Quill in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, but this time around, he’s a very different Peter Quill. He went through quite a bit in the first movie and round two is all about taking his character journey a step further and giving fans what they want while also defying expectations in the process. He’s the leader of this wild and dangerous yet lovable band of misfits, and that comes with some serious responsibilities. And in addition to keeping Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket and Groot in line, Quill’s also got a family matter on his hands – he’s meeting his dad (Kurt Russell) for the first time.
So clearly Pratt has his hands full with Vol. 2. There’s a lot of pressure that comes with taking the lead character of a highly unique and successful big budget feature into a sequel, but it also opens up the door to a wealth of opportunities. While visiting the set of Guardians 2 in Atlanta back in April of 2016, I got the chance to participate in a roundtable interview with Pratt during which he discussed his on and off-screen relationship with Kurt Russell, the current status of Peter Quill’s relationship with Yondu and the Guardians, what effect the Power Stone had on him and how Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 will uphold what we know and love from the first film but also surprise audiences as well. Check it all out in the interview below. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 hits theaters on May 5th.
Question: How cool is it that Kurt Russell is your dad?
CHRIS PRATT: It’s so cool. It’s so cool. It’s perfect.
What’s it like working with him?
PRATT: For me, there are actors that I loved growing up – there’s a handful of them – and he is absolutely right at the top of that list, and has not once done anything to disappoint the inner child in me who was so excited when he got cast. He’s really cool. He’s absolutely an artist. Even though he’s kind of the ‘everyman’ kind of a character, he’s really an artist and he really cares deeply about all of the details of his character. We’re really kindred spirits I think. Me and Anna [Faris], and Kurt and Goldie [Hawn], I feel like we are the same in some parallel universe, you know what I mean? Anna’s often times been compared to Goldie Hawn, like in the House Bunny and things like that, and one of our favorite movies is Overboard. And I guess some people have made that comparison with me and Kurt, just kind of like a blue-collar type of dude, American actor. He loves to hunt and be outdoors and he’s, I don’t know, I just really, really love him. I’m in love with Kurt Russell. [Laughs]
You’ve said you’ve asked him to be …
PRATT: … be my dad in real life. Yup. I’m still waiting to hear on that. ‘Cause he’s got other children so I think that he’s gonna have to check with them to see if they want a brother, but I’m hoping they all say yes. [Laughs] No, I have a feeling that it’s one of those relationships that you meet somebody and you know that the relationship – although some relationships you meet someone, it’s fine when you’re on set, you’re gonna have a great working relationship with them, but you know that when the movie wraps there’s a likelihood that you probably won’t see one another unless you work together again. But I think it’s not that way with Kurt. I’m sure we’ll go hang out and do things together because we’ll talk for an hour and not have once mentioned anything about work, you know what I mean? It’s pretty cool.
Obviously your character had ideas about who your father is. Can you talk about those ideas versus who he actually is?
PRATT: I think all the evidence that Quill has to who his father is, he learns it the same time the audience does from the first movie, do you know what I mean? He realizes there’s something special about him that they can’t quite identify, and that’s pretty much all he knows. So, as he learns with the audience during the course of this second journey who that is – so I’m not sure he necessarily had expectations that aren’t comedically Quill, which we play on in the movie. You get to find out who he hopes his father is and who he wishes his father is, and you get to find out whether or not that is the reality.
Do your characters’ interactions match up with how you and Kurt bonded in your life? Do they meet each other and hit it off immediately?
PRATT: I’m really gonna be delicate with this because it’s so good and I know it starts bordering on spoiler territory. There was a moment in rehearsal where Kurt – the rehearsal process was so awesome with him. So fun and cool and surreal. But there was a moment [when] he said, listen, there’s never been as many people in his life, both professionally and personally, pushing him towards doing something. He’s gotten emails, people coming out of the woodwork in his personal life and his business life like, ‘You gotta go do this movie! You gotta go do this thing!’ And he said that to me, and I’m sure he would mention that all to you. And then he said something that was interesting, which was, ‘What does …’ and this was his words – he said, ‘In the first movie, no one knew who you were. They didn’t really know who Chris Pratt was.’ And this is one of the very few times I’m ever gonna refer to myself as Chris Pratt. [Laughs] Like a new thing I do nowadays! But he said, people know who he is. People know who Kurt Russell is, and now have a better idea of who I am. So when they come into a movie like this, they’re kind of waiting to see, what is Kurt Russell going to say to Chris Pratt? And he was like, ‘If there’s not an honesty here and if we can’t determine something that I really would say to you, if we can’t root that in some kind of reality for ourselves, it might not work that well.’ So in rehearsal, we found a really great way to come from a place of absolute truth in the way we deal with one another in this movie. So, it’s not exactly the same, and I don’t wanna spoil too much about the nature of their relationship because that’s so much of the journey of this movie, but it’s definitely honest.
How does Starlord evolve in this film? How is he different from the first film?
PRATT: Well, I mean, we’re picking up a couple of months after the first movie so there was a certain evolution that happened with him in the first movie and it was important to all of us that we don’t move backwards and all of a sudden start where he was at the beginning of the first movie and just tell that story over again. So, he definitely feels a responsibility, feels like he’s a leader, but it’s still a group of misfits. He still has to deal with Rocket, and he still has to deal with Drax and Gamora, and the way that it is. There’s still a lot of fun to be had there. He certainly doesn’t have a mastery on how to be a leader of this group. But I think he feels like the leader of this group at the beginning of this.
Has messing with the Power Stone done anything at all to him?
PRATT: It plays a certain role. His interaction with the Infinity Stone in the first movie becomes – there’s a thread there that gets pulled in the second movie, like you get to know a little bit more. But yeah, that wasn’t an unimportant aspect of who he is.
We’ve heard a couple tracks from the Awesome Mix Volume 2. How does it compare to the first one and what does it say about where Peter’s at in this movie?
PRATT: Oh, man. I mean, it’s totally different but also the same, you know? It’s a collection of really great songs. James is a fantastic curator for that kind of music. Also, it’s probably better because we have more money. [Laughs] You know, we get cooler songs! We didn’t have to search through as much obscure stuff. Although there is some pretty obscure stuff. There’s some really powerful, amazing songs that we’re really excited to have. Definitely still very honest and as a narrative tool, there’s never a moment that the music isn’t justified and isn’t a part of the storytelling process. It’s not just an accompaniment or a score. It’s like the songs more so in this movie, it really helped tell the story.
Do you feel empowered due to how the audience responded to the first movie? Coming into this as a creative team do you feel like, hey, people really liked what we were trying so we can push it further?
PRATT: Totally. It’s a different type of pressure that we’re under now. Before the pressure was, ‘No one knows you. What’s it gonna be like to be the first Marvel movie that fails?’ You know? [Laughs] I can’t even tell you how many times I answered that question. I was like, ‘Oh, god! This is not looking good!’ So that pressure is off because it’s like, ‘Hey, we’ve got a built-in audience. People really liked it!’ But I think the pressure we’re feeling now is, how do we do the same thing in terms of wowing an audience, getting people to come in and have their expectations defied, and to come in expecting one thing, not knowing what they want but getting what they want, you know? Come in thinking they know what they want, but they leave having got what they want, but it wasn’t what they wanted to begin with, do you know what I mean? So we are doing that in this movie. The pressure is on now to do the same thing, which is surprise you, and do something different. So in a way, there’s a pressure because a lot of times people when they make a sequel, they just play the hits. They’re like, ‘Let’s tell the exact same story, strip it down, replace the jokes with new jokes, replace the bad guy with a new bad guy, tell the same exact story, but just in a different way.’ And that totally works fine, but that’s not what we’re doing at all with this movie. So, it hopefully will – you know what, I’m gonna go ahead and shut up so that I can be a proactive part in defying your expectations. [Laughs]
Going back to the music, you talked about the music being really important to the movie and having an emotional impact. We heard music playing as you guys were preforming on set. Is James doing that in a lot of scenes?
PRATT: That’s an example of looking at what really worked in the first movie, just creatively for us, and we did that from time to time. I love it and James is really open to it, and so we’ve been doing that more this time than we did the first time around. But they definitely were playing – in the first movie we were listening to “Cherry Bomb” when we were walking down that hallway. Those songs were really playing and a lot of the score was playing. Like the scene where Groot is protecting us in his cocoon before we crashed into Xandar, they were playing the score there so we understood the sacrifice Groot was making, we’re feeling the power of that emotional song and that score, and so that stuff really worked. And so creatively, there’s things that we can look back on and think, ‘Wow, that really worked!’ We have those tools in our bag and we’re using them as often as we can, or as often as we want.
We know that Peter’s looking for his father, but we also find him coming in contact with a father figure in Yondu. Can you talk about what his relationship is like with Yondu in this film, especially with the Ravagers playing a larger role?
PRATT: Umm, no. [Laughs] I better not. Is that okay? I’ll give you another question!
Kevin told us that Starlord finds himself caught between these two father figures…
PRATT: Kevin Feige said that?
PRATT: Oh, okay! [Laughs] I would say Starlord kind of finds himself caught between these two father figures … [laughs].
Everyone that we talked to has called this movie emotional. They keep talking about how James really gets the emotion. Can you talk about that side of the film?
PRATT: One thing that I think people really responded to was the tone, and tone is a culmination of all of those things – emotion, irreverence, comedy, drama – all the things that worked in the first movie, those things are all here and certainly the emotion is there, and in many ways, more complex and even deeper. And the same thing with the comedy. I think especially the comedy in this one feels more tailored to each of our specific voices and that’s something that is just the benefit you’re going to have having written, shot and edited a movie with a certain group of people, and then getting to go back and do it again. Like the original movie, all those roles were written before they were cast, and now we have the benefit of being with the right four. Collectively, James has the ability to write for Dave, for Gamora, for Rocket, and for me and all the other characters so that’s a benefit. Each element of that tone is still there from the first movie, but they are hitting on even sharper notes I think.
We also heard that Peter and Gamora might have a bit of a will-they-won’t-they relationship in this movie. Can you talk about how their dynamic has changed?
PRATT: I kind of feel like that was there in the first movie as well, you know what I mean? I think any time you take a man and a woman in a movie that are both in a lead position and you put them in the same room, there’s naturally going to be this question of will they or won’t they, you know what I mean? I think that’s pretty inevitable. Unless you really clearly illustrate that either they’re brother and sister, or that one of them isn’t into that type of thing, or whatever it is. If you have two characters of the opposite sex, it always seems like you’re just waiting for them to collide. And so that is dealt with a little more in this version of the movie. And again, we didn’t wanna go back and do exactly what we did in the first movie, so it steps up a little bit.
Can you talk about one of the new characters, Mantis, and how Starlord gets along with her?
PRATT: I can tell you that Pom [Klementieff] is somebody who will be on your radar for the rest of your life after this. She is crushing it. She’s so unique and like Dave was born to play Drax, I feel like she was totally born to play Mantis. And also because no one really knows – maybe I’m wrong, but I’ve never seen anyone play Mantis before in a movie so it’s pretty open as to what somebody can do. And her particular voice, the look of the character and all of the story elements are so unique that it’s really nice that Pom is inhabiting a character that no one’s ever seen before because she’s doing something that nobody’s ever seen before. As far as how our relationship goes, I don’t wanna get too much into that, but she’s a major part of this movie and I think it’s safe to say a major member of Guardians of the Galaxy.
My son dressed as Starlord for Halloween so I’m wondering what it’s like to have all these kids come up to you and see you as Starlord. What’s that like?
PRATT: It makes me really happy that the first introduction to Peter Quill being Starlord – I remember when James and I were collaborating on this, I think originally it was written, ‘There is one more name you may know me by – Starlord,’ and then he kicks the thing and something cool goes off, but there was never that answer of, ‘Who?’ Remember? I think that was something that got added in after I had been cast and I’m really glad that we added that in because it really does feel like it’s changed, like people didn’t know who Starlord was. I mean, unless you were a comic book fan and read Guardians of the Galaxy, but it’s like kids didn’t know who Starlord was. It took this movie to where it could become this sort of ubiquitous household name kind of a superhero character, and for that I just feel really proud and really happy. I just feel lucky to be part of the process of bringing that to kids. It just tickles me, man. I get it all the time. It’s really kind of special, and it feels pretty cool.
At the end of the last movie, Drax says he wants to go after Thanos. We know from Kevin Feige that Thanos isn’t in this movie. Why doesn’t Starlord and the Guardians go after Thanos in the end?
PRATT: All in due time, my friend. This is really falling into what I’m happy about – expanding outward, you know? It’s cosmic and so why not move outward? That’s how it is in space and so the amount of stories are unlimited and I know that there are branches of the Marvel tree that kind of fold in on themselves, and you’re gonna obviously see that in the Avengers 3 and 4, and you’re gonna see more stuff like that where it’s not expanding outward but more focusing inward, and I think we’re that branch that’s really reaching out, you know? Trying to find sunlight in space. And so that gets me really excited because I think the potential for this group of heroes is really unlimited.
Is there a character in the MCU that you’d love to work with?
PRATT: Yes! There’s so many! I don’t know what’s possible now that Marvel is under Disney and some Marvel characters are under different studios, some are in TV, and some are – I don’t know how it works – I think it would be awesome for Starlord to meet Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin somehow. [Laughs] That would be awesome. I was always a fan of The Punisher. That was my dude who I loved growing up. I had the murals of him on my wall and stuff, so that would be pretty awesome. Maybe a little more moody than Quill. I don’t know exactly how they would work together.
What I take from this is Guardians-Marvel-Netflix crossover.
PRATT: Hey, I feel like we can do that nowadays, right? Look, I’m clearly not responsible for making any of these decisions. I’ll kinda do anything they want me to do.
I think everyone’s sort of waiting to see how all the various heroes who have been established are brought together in Infinity War, and given that the movie that’s dealt with Thanos the most is Guardians of the Galaxy, do you think that it’s an important part of the Guardians’ journey to intersect with him again in the Infinity War films?
PRATT: I don’t know. He’s a good baddie. But there’s a lot of good good guys. As much as Thanos was in Guardians, really it was Ronan the Accuser who was our bad guy, and we got to see Thanos and I think that was more a seed of something. For me, I think more importantly than Quill would be Drax or Gamora because Thanos killed Drax’s family and treated Gamora terribly her whole life and so they have personal things to say. Maybe Quill because he loves these people and he knows how they’ve been affected by him. When I think about the emotion of it, there would be more closure for certain Guardians than others, but I’m down to kick Thanos’ ass if they need me to.
What’s on your shirt? Can you translate that for us?
PRATT: Somebody can, because it’s a real language apparently. They’ve created a real alphabet, but it’s from – I think, I might be making this up – I think it’s from a candy wrapper from the first movie. This is like a space brand of some kind so it’s like on my shirt the way anyone would be wearing an ironic Reese’s Pieces shirt or something like that.
For more on Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, peruse all of our set visit coverage in the links below. The film opens in theaters on May 5th.
- ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: 40 Things to Know from Our Visit to the Set
- Kevin Feige on How ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2′ Connects to the Larger MCU
- Thanos Is the Main Character in ‘Avengers: Infinity War’, Says Kevin Feige
- Why Thanos Isn’t in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2′
- Go Behind the Scenes of ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2′ with New, Action-Packed Images