Mainstream media portrays so many celebrities in a negative light. Bloggers don't tend to do that. We have more of an interest in the human side of a person and being able to connect to them and finding ways our audiences can relate to them. This may come as a surprise, but celebrities are human and have feelings, too. You may know him from “Parks and Recreation” as Andy Dwyer; your kids might know him as Emmett from The Lego Movie. Chris Pratt, who has worked with bloggers before, still gets nervous giving interviews—because he's a person, not just because he's the star (Star-Lord?) of a soon-to-be summer box office hit. He was so happy to know we'd seen the movie prior to the interview.
Meet Chris Pratt
Chris Pratt walked in with a great big, boyish grin on his face. His boy-next-door good looks and down-to-earth charm made it easy to talk to him. He was so excited to talk to us, but you could see he was also a little nervous. His voice was shaking at the beginning of the interview. And he was playing with his shirt: hands folded and pulling his sleeve cuffs over her hands and manipulating the cuff while he talked with us. I have no doubt that no matter how nice bloggers are, 25 of us in a room can be intimidating.
Chris took the time to talk to us at the beginning of the Guardians of the Galaxy press junket tour in LA last week. We talked training and preparing for the role, favorite moments, and being an iconic super hero.
How much training did you have to do for the fight scenes?
Chris: Oh, the fight scenes were pretty intensive; We had about 6 weeks of rehearsal before we even started shooting in London, and we did stunt rehearsals every single day. And so a big part of that was learning, training, refining the fight scenes. We would learn a fight scene for a couple of weeks, and then it would end up changing, and we’d learn it again. I secretly think it was a way for them to get me to lose even more weight, they're like, “Hey, Chris, even more stunt rehearsal, can you believe it? [LAUGHTER] This stunt is you running on a treadmill.” We did a ton of training.
But it was really fun and that is the stuff I really like. I was an athlete growing up and played sports, and it's just nice to be part of a team of athletic people and being coachable and being told what to do, and getting better at it, day-by-day at doing something physical. That, to me, is really a nice break from the sort of the mental exhaustion that can come with acting. You don't have to think too hard to do stunts, which is just perfect for me.
What was your most memorable moment while filming?
Chris: That very first day we were on a set in an area that's called Morag. That was a real set; it looks so fantastical. It's just such an epic set it; you assume it's all green screen. The thing was a real set. We were outside at Longcross Studios—I'll never forget this—I was wearing Quill’s long jacket for the first time. Actually another great moment is the first time I put that jacket on and walked, oh my god, the jacket was totally telling me how Peter Quill would walk. I'm running, there's a wind blowing—probably 60–70 miles per hour—rain machines, guys are shooting real water from real ponds, hundreds of feet up in the air. And we're on an outdoor set that's probably 150 yards long, a 150 yards wide. So it's massive, like two football fields put together with green screen all the way around these giant shipping containers stacked 90 feet high.
So there's an element of green screen around the entire horizon, but on the inside it was like a sea had just drained out and it revealed this city that had been underwater for 10,000 years. So that was the moment where I thought, “Holy crap. This is happening. I'm on this movie, and it's going to be epic.”
How does it feel knowing you're an iconic hero for younger kids of this generation?
Chris: Oh my gosh that is, to me, the greatest part of all this. I remember pretending to be Han Solo in my backyard, or pretending to be Indiana Jones or Luke Skywalker as a kid. Comic books and storytelling of this magnitude is what really helped me cultivate my imagination as a young kid. And to think that kids are going to be out, and they're going to watch this, and they're going to feel that way. I've been Googling synonyms for “surreal” just to try to help explain what it feels like. It's really cool. And I think to me that's by far the very greatest feeling is that I'm going to be a hero to these kids.
What percentage of Burt Macklin do you think is in this character?
Chris: This would definitely be Andy Dwyer’s favorite movie of all time. There is a certain element of Burt Macklin. I think 10 percent Burt Macklin yeah.
How many improv opportunities did you have?
Chris: You know, we had a little bit of room. When you're shooting on a movie like this, you've got to think in terms of seconds. Seconds will cost thousands of dollars. They roll that film and it is costing money. So if you're going to improv, you'd better nail it. Because if you blow a take trying a joke that no one knew about and you just kind of spit it out, you're wasting time and money. And everybody is there doing a job that takes 6 months to do.
So that being said, I did improv a lot [LAUGHTER], and I probably wasted a lot of money. But some of it made it into the movie, and so, maybe it was worth it.
Being a Marvel super hero now, were you a fan of the Guardians before? Did you know anything about them? Were you a fan of comics?
Chris: I was a comic book fan probably 6th grade on. I was a fan of comic books. We didn't have a ton of money growing up, so comic books are actually kind of—they're not expensive, but if you're broke everything is expensive. So I didn't have a ton of ‘em. My friends had a lot of them.
I would like to draw the pictures out of them. We were big artists in my family. We would draw and paint and things like that. And so I loved the artistry, I loved the characters, and what they were—just the physicality of the heroes. I just like was a big fan of that, always drawing comic book heroes. And so I was a huge fan of the comic books, and there was one time that I won $300 bucks playing Bingo with my mom and bought $300 bucks worth of comic books. And one of them was a Guardians of the Galaxy comic book, and it was right around that time, I guess in 1991 there was an incarnation of it.
For me, the stories weren't what grabbed me, it was the covers and it was the cool art on the inside and the outside. So it was more the pictures that grabbed me. I collected a Ghost Rider, the one with the glow in the dark cove; I had a Bart Man No. 1. I had a stack of Richie Riches I got at a garage sale, old, old ones. And I had a big stack of Conan I think it was the Samarian or something. They were really sexy. I had one called Icon, I had the Infinity gauntlets. Of course some Spider Man, some X-Men, some Wolverine. Punisher Twenty-ninety-nine was another one I collected.
On being a leading man and working with James Gunn
Chris: I learned a lot from James Gunn on this because this was the first time I’d ever been the lead of something, certainly something this big. For me the challenges were just getting out of my own head and just trusting the dialogue. Sometimes it's just as simple as standing on the mark and speaking clearly, and with volume and energy. Sometimes as an actor, you want to do so much.
You're concerned about the psychology of the character, or the reality of the scene, or the stakes and the drama, and you're thinking about all of those things. It's important sometimes to just trust the words and say them clearly. Understand that you're actually a very small part of something very big. The scene doesn't actually rely on whether or not you're thinking about your mother in your head when you're doing the scene. You can do all of that stuff, but if it messes up you standing on the mark and speaking clearly, you shouldn't do it. And so for me it was a lesson in just trusting the dialogue and pace, understanding pace and energy.
Do you have a favorite behind the scenes moment?
Chris: James kept telling me over and over that he was going to replace me. It kind of became an ongoing joke that he kept pitching different ideas for actors, who he was going to put their face on my face at the end of the movie, which by the way, I never was offended by. I thought it was funny every time he said it.
That was really my favorite part about filming this movie—the relationship I had with James in terms of our comedy, it matches up really well. It's super inappropriate [LAUGHTER] and we're constantly trying to outdo one another in, in terms of our inappropriateness. And so we'd say some pretty shocking and terrible things that we’d be laughing at, but it was kind of a survival mechanism. That was probably the most memorable joke.
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From Marvel, the studio that brought you the global blockbuster franchises of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Avengers, comes a new team—the Guardians of the Galaxy. An action-packed, epic space adventure, Marvel's “Guardians of the Galaxy” expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the cosmos, where brash adventurer Peter Quill finds himself the object of an unrelenting bounty hunt after stealing a mysterious orb coveted by Ronan, a powerful villain with ambitions that threaten the entire universe. To evade the ever-persistent Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a quartet of disparate misfits—Rocket, a gun-toting raccoon, Groot, a tree-like humanoid, the deadly and enigmatic Gamora and the revenge-driven Drax the Destroyer. But when Quill discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must do his best to rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand—with the galaxy's fate in the balance.
Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which first appeared in comic books in Marvel Super-Heroes, Issue #18 (Jan. 1969), stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, featuring Vin Diesel as Groot, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, with John C. Reilly, Glenn Close as Nova Prime Rael, and Benicio Del Toro as The Collector.
James Gunn is the director of the film with Kevin Feige, p.g.a., producing. Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Jeremy Latcham, Alan Fine, and Stan Lee serve as executive producers. Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” is written by James Gunn and Nicole Perlman and releases in U.S. theaters on August 1, 2014.Disclaimer: I was selected to attend an all-expense paid trip to LA courtesy of Disney to experience these incredible events, along with a group of 24 other bloggers. All opinions, excitement, and smiles are my own.