Chris Pratt on 'Guardians of the Galaxy' and Becoming Marvel's Next Superstar

Chris Pratt on 'Guardians of the Galaxy' and Becoming Marvel's Next Superstar

May 16, 2014

Last year was lucky enough to visit the set of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, in theaters August 1. Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel, the comedic space adventure follows a ragtag group of otherwordly warriors who join forces in an effort to defeat a seemingly unstoppable villain.

But who are the Guardians of the Galaxy, and why should you be excited about the next superhero movie from the folks over at Marvel Studios? We’ll have plenty of cool stuff to show you from the set prior to release, but first up are these fun facts straight from Chris Pratt, who plays the Guardians’ fearless leader, Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord.

Check out our full interview with Marvel's next superstar below, along with a few new behind-the-scenes images from the movie.


Stepping into a world like this, is part of the kick just learning to play with everything and handle it well and look like you live in that space?

Chris Pratt: Yeah I guess that’s part of it. That’s definitely part of it. You were talking about the props and the toys and the sets and costumes, and yeah that’s definitely a part of it. All that stuff makes my job pretty easy, actually. It’s not easy, but it makes it much easier because it’s doing a lot of work. The props, the mask, the guns—everything that distracts a viewer’s attention from me, I invite. Just in case I f**k up, just please look at the cool guns.


What was it like the first time you got your blasters?

Pratt: They sent me a gun and they wanted to see how it matched up against my hand, but at the time all I was worried about was that I would send them pictures of me holding this gun and they’re going to think I’m too fat and fire me. That’s all I remember thinking. I was still very much in the process of losing weight, so I was sucking [my gut in] and holding the gun—my wife was like, "You look unfcomfortable in this photo." Well, I am!

I sent them the photo, and immediately they were like, "Hey we need to come get your sizes again." I said, “Yeah, I know you do." But it was pretty neat – they’re definitely awesome props. 


Were there any characters you looked back on and were inspired by when it came to playing Star-Lord?

Pratt: You’d think going into it as an actor that you’d take performances you’ve seen before and want to take influence off of it, but that’s not necessarily what I did. I know some actors probably work that way. I heard Kevin Feige said that the stuff he was looking at reminded him of Han Solo meets Marty McFly, but that wasn’t an intentional thing at all.

At least with me, I feel I’m different than everyone else. Or at least that’s what our mothers tell us – that we’re all special and unique, and we are. I think if an actor can stick to trying to resemble something from their own spirit, it’ll automatically be unique and it’s not necessarily trying to be Han Solo or trying to be Marty McFly, or trying to be any other character that you’ve seen before. It’s like, this is just going to be me in this role.


Is there a day on set that’s more surreal than others?

Pratt: Yes. We have a set for a place called Morag that’s mind-blowing. There’s another day in something called the Kiln, which is another set. There was one surreal day, and we had this guy doing crowd control on 160 extras who were all wearing alien makeup. We’re on a set that’s as big as this warehouse we’re in now, but maybe even taller. There are prison cells all around; a giant tower in the middle and there’s this long crane—man I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about this—that was part of this long one shot.

We’re walking through, and there’s this long, dollying crane shot that’s on our backs and it lifts up, circles around—you see a fight break out—and then it pans down to a second level where you see these ominous prisoners grab someone and drag them into a cell. It was so surreal, because the shot ends on my face looking around, taking it all in.  It’s been five months of moments like that. It’s been really crazy. I was like, "How much does this cost per second?"


Talk about your character a little bit. This is a guy who’s half human, half alien. Is the character more informed by who he was on Earth, or more of who he’s become in space?

Pratt: At this point he’s definitely more informed by who he was on Earth. The character has a very human arc; it’s really based on who he was and what was taken from him as a kid. Something that he missed and lacks that he has to gain throughout the course of the movie. That’s definitely what we’re focusing on.



How old is he when he leaves Earth?

Pratt: When he leaves Earth, he’s a kid. He’s like nine or 10. And you get to see the origin of who he is and why he is the way he is when you meet him as an adult later in space.

In the trailer, you say, "I’m Star-Lord," and Korath is like, "Who?" Obviously that’s probably going to be the general public’s reaction, too. Is that something that’s benefited you, so you could make this character your own as you were developing it?

Pratt: That idea was actually a collaboration, I think. When I was reading the original script, I remember thinking, why isn’t he just saying that he’s Star-Lord? And when I talked to [director] James [Gunn], I said, "Maybe it should be this moment where it’s like, 'Who is that?’" What’s great is the stakes and what happens in the movie legitimizes this nickname he’d love to have himself be called. I don’t want to give away too much, but you see why he’s called Star-Lord in this movie.


The fact that the general public isn’t that familiar with the character or the property, is that something that benefits you as an actor?

Pratt: I don’t really think it affects me. I think it’s probably helpful that people don’t know who he is, because it would be my intention to want to make this my own anyways. But I feel like that was something Robert Downey Jr. did with Iron Man. He came in and he is Tony Stark. And he probably is for real now; he’s probably got weapon systems—the guy could probably build his own [Iron Man] suit now with all the money he’s making! Personally, I don’t even know Robert Downey Jr. I’m just assuming. For all I know he has a British accent, and is nothing like Tony Stark. But for most people, he is Tony Stark. And that’s something I would like to do too. To keep it real and keep it close to who I am, and maybe the fact that no one knows these characters will be helpful.

It’ll probably be helpful too, because you look at those Star Wars prequels that came out—there’s a lot of expectation there. To shoulder a project on preconceived notions and expectations and all these things just really makes it difficult. You spend the whole movie trying to satisfy what people think they know about a character. The first Star Wars didn’t have that problem because it was all brand new. You just take it for what it is. So basically, what I’m saying is we’ll be better than Star Wars. [Laughs]


Other than yourself, who is your favorite Guardians of the Galaxy character?

Pratt: Drax is awesome, not only the character but Dave Bautista the actor. I just adore him so much; he’s really unique. I also think Rocket [Raccoon] is a great character. Not just in a way that you would think. There’s a lot of heart there. James [Gunn] did a great job at looking at Rocket as a real character rather than a cartoon character. So when you see the story unfold, you should feel bad for him. Anything that was created out of nothing; there’s this sense of lonlieness and inner pain that Rocket feels. Hopefully the audience will emphatize with him; it makes him a really sympathetic character, but also so badass because he’s a raccoon with a machine gun. So that’s good. I like him. All the characters are really great, but those two in particular I’m a fan of.


So much of the film is about building an ensemble that works together by the end. In terms of the cast, it’s such an amazing group of people and such an eclectic group. Have you seen that happen throughout the film—that you’ve all come together?

Pratt: The synergy of the whole group we don’t really get to feel on set because two of the characters are CG. What’s great is that when I get to see this movie, so much of it is me being a spectator. I’m going to see sequences where I didn’t know what they looked like; characters I didn’t how they’re going to look at the end. We’ve definitely come together and gotten to know each other better, but this is a bit unlike other movies I’ve been on where you walk away from set and the cast goes and hangs out. We’ve just been working nonstop. We’ve been working so much. We’ve gotten to know each other well because we’ve been together for five months in a foreign country, but it’s been eye on the prize this whole time. There hasn’t been a lot of downtime.


How have you been adjusting to the fact that you’re dealing with two CG characters throughout the entire film?

Pratt: It turns out it’s kind of the same as it not being CGI. You’re just looking at something and pretending and saying words. It hasn’t been that hard. It probably would’ve been harder if we didn’t have Sean Gunn [James’ brother] playing Rocket. I mean Groot doesn’t have much dialogue in the movie. So much of what actors do is just listening and responding, and so when you’re working with a great actor—even when they’re off camera—it’s very easy to listen, respond and understand that they’re listening to you too.

There’s this connection; this flow. That’s been really great with Sean because a lot of the stuff that happens with Rocket, there are moments of real drama, real emotion, and he has committed so hard to it. When he’s off camera, I’m responding to someone I feel really bad for instead of, like, a tennis ball or something.

Can you talk about the physical transformation you went through, losing all the weight. Did it change the way you are as a person?

Pratt: There were a lot of elements that made it easy for me. The costume, the hair, the makeup, the props, the sets, and then working out and getting into good shape. I’d get out of makeup and look at myself in the mirror and not even see myself staring back. I’d see Peter Quill or Star-Lord, and be like, "This is f***ing cool, man!"


What is your character up to in space before he meets the Guardians?

Pratt: He is on a quest to escape, essentially. But in the same way that a lot of people are on Earth. He’s got a hope to him; the kind of hope that you have when you buy a lottery ticket. He thinks if he can just make that score, everything will be fine and everything will be taken care of. I think he learns through the course of the movie that that’s not ultimately where you find true satisfaction with yourself and real happiness. That comes with giving yourself up to something that’s bigger than yourself. So we find him in a hopeful, playful place where he’s sort of escaping and a little bit on the run.


How important is comedy to telling the story of the Guardians of the Galaxy?

Pratt: Oh, super important. I think comedy is important, especially in this film. If we pull this off right, it’s going to be hard for all the other movies that come out. They’re going to seem pretty unfunny compared to this one. It’s key to making this movie work, too, because it’s not just a straight action-adventure movie. I think all the best big adventure movies have good comedy. All the Indiana Jones movies, and Romancing the Stone. Any type of movie where you have an adventure, potential budding sexual chemistry and humor – it just all really works.

Do you get to improv on a movie this big?

Pratt: No, not really. This isn’t the place for that sort of thing. I do, though. [Laughs] But it is probably not something I should be doing. Sometimes I just can’t help it. I’ve been trying hard to stick to the lines though, because you don’t want to blow a $300,000 craning, dollying, helicopter shot or anything.


How many of the comics did you read to prepare? And what’s something you saw in a comic that you thought needed to be in the movie?

Pratt: When I first talked with James [pictured above], I had read some of the newest stuff. I asked James, and he was like, "Don’t read any more. I don’t want you to read any." We’re not re-creating the comic books. We’re essentially just another delivery system for Marvel material. We’re not necessarily making a movie based on those comic books; we’re just telling more Guardians of the Galaxy stories using a different medium. The name, the title and characters are from a different incarnation of Guardians of the Galaxy, but this [movie] is its own thing. 

Guardians of the Galaxy hits theaters August 1. We'll have much more from the set leading up to release. In the meantime, check out this newly released poster for the movie.

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