Chris Pratt on returning as Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Few actors in Hollywood today are as beloved as Chris Pratt. The actor is a generally nice guy on the big screen and an even nicer guy off screen. Pratt first got the attention of fans as Andy Dwyer in Parks and Recreation. He then proved he could handle action and more serious roles in Zero Dark Thirty. But Pratt hit the A-List with three back-to-back hits — The LEGO Movie, Jurassic World, and Guardians of the Galaxy. Now he gets to reprise his role as Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord (Who??), in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2. But if that wasn’t exciting enough, he gets to co-star with Kurt Russell as his father. When we visited the set in Atlanta in April 2016, the cast and crew were playing coy about Russell’s character (using the name “J’son” to refer to him, not “Ego” as they later confirmed). But as Chris walked in the door, we immediately got a taste of his sense of humor.
Chris Pratt: You have 15 seconds. No, I’m just kidding.
Q: Kurt Russell, huh?
Chris Pratt: Oh. No, it’s Chris Pratt, buddy. But I know, I get it. The hair. Yeah, it’s the same deal. Yeah, no, but seriously, yeah.
Q: I want to follow-up by how f***ing cool is it he’s your dad?
Pratt: It’s so cool. It’s so cool. It’s perfect.
Q: 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 like, 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. And you know, we’re really kindred spirits, I think. Me and Anna and Kurt and Goldie I feel like are the same in some parallel universe. Do you know what I mean? Anna’s oftentimes been really compared to Goldie Hawn, and 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 like kind of a blue-collar type of dude, American actor. And yeah, he loves to hunt and be outdoors. I don’t know. I just really, really love him. I love him. I’m in love with Kurt Russell.
Q: He said you asked him to be…
Pratt: Be my dad in real life. Yeah. Yup, I’m hoping, I’m still waiting to hear on that one, because he’s got other children, so I think that he’s going to have to check with them to see if they want a brother. But I’m hoping they all say yes. No, I have a feeling it’s one of those relationships that you meet somebody and you know that the relationship, although some relationships you meet someone and it’s fine when you’re on set, you’re going to have a great working relationship with them, but you know that when the movie wraps, 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. Do you know what I mean? It’s pretty cool.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about, obviously your character had ideas of who your father is, and meeting J’son for the first time, those ideas versus who he actually is? Does that make sense?
Pratt: Well, I don’t know that. I mean, I think all of the evidence that Quill has to who his father is, he learns it at the same time the audience does from the first movie. 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’s, which we play on in the movie, like, 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.
Q: Your character’s interactions, do they kind of match up with how you and Kurt bonded in real life? Did they meet each other immediately and talk or is there a little bit of a sort of adversarial relationship, when they meet?
Pratt: You know, and I’m really going to 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. It was so fun and cool and surreal. But there was a moment he said, “Listen,” he said there’s never been as many people in his life, both professionally and personally pushing him towards doing something. Like, he’s gotten emails coming now, people coming out of the woodwork in his personal life and in 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 like, “What does,” and these were 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 going to refer to myself as Chris Pratt. It’s like a new thing I do now. But he was like, but 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 and the way we deal with one another in this movie. So it’s not exactly the same, and I don’t want to 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.
Q: How has Star-Lord evolved in this film? How is he different from the first film? Is he cockier? Is he more of a leader?
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 the leader of this group, but I think he feels like the leader of this group at the beginning of this.
Q: Has messing with the power stone done anything at all to you?
Pratt: Well, it plays a certain role. His interaction with the Infinity Stone in the first movie, 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.
Q: We’ve heard a couple of tracks from “The Awesome Mix: Volume Two.” And I’m curious, 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. 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’s some pretty obscure stuff. There’s some really powerful, amazing songs that we’re really excited to have. Definitely still very honest 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, really help tell the story.
Q: Do you feel empowered about how the audience responded to the first one? And at the time, when it came out, it sounded like it was going to be something so different from what was MCU prior to. And then everybody really embraced it. They really liked what you guys were trying. Coming into this as a creative team, do you feel, “Hey, people really liked what we were trying, so we can push it harder? We can go.”
Pratt: Totally. I mean, yeah, it’s a different type of pressure that we’re under now. Before, the pressure was, no one knows you, what’s it going to be like to be the first Marvel movie that fails? (Laughs) I can’t tell you how many times I answered that question. It was like, oh god, this is not looking good. But 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. 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 the 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 you know what? I’m going to go ahead and shut up so that I can be a proactive part in defying your expectations.
Q: Going back to the music, you talk about the music being really important to the narrative and actually having an emotional impact. We also hear clearly it’s playing as you guys are performing. How does that come in? Is Gunn doing that in a lot of scenes? Is it just this scene, where he’s playing the music?
Pratt: You know, 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 and 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 thought, “Wow, that really worked.” And so, we have those tools in our bag and we’re using them as often as we can or as often as we want.
Q: Now we know that Peter’s looking for his father, but we also find him come in contact with a father figure in Yondu. So I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about what his relationship is like with Yondu in this film, especially with the Ravagers playing a larger role?
Pratt: Ummm…No. (Laughs) I better not. Is that okay? I’ll give you another question, but yeah, no.
Q: I was going to follow-up, because Kevin told us earlier today that Star-Lord finds himself sort of caught between these two father figures.
Pratt: Kevin Feige said that?
Pratt: Oh okay. I would say Star-Lord kind of finds himself caught between these father figures. (Laughs)
Q: Everyone that we’ve talked to has just called this movie emotional. They keep talking about how James really gets the emotions and a lot of deep emotions. Can you talk about that side of this?
Pratt: Well, yeah, I mean, what really worked, I thought, for the first movie, one thing that I think that 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. The original movie, all those roles were written before they were cast, and now, we have the benefit of being able to write for Dave Bautista – I say we as if I wrote the script, but collectively. James has the ability to write for Dave, for Gamora, for Rocket and for me and all of the other characters. And so, that’s a benefit. And so, each element of that tone is still there from the first movie, but they are hitting on even sharper notes, I think.
Q: We also heard that Peter and Gamora might have a bit of a will they, won’t they relationship in this movie. And I was wondering if you could kind of talk about how they’re dynamic has changed. Also from Kevin Feige.
Pratt: Also from Kevin Feige?
Q: Kevin Feige said that as well. That might’ve been (producer) Jonathan Schwartz. I think it was Jonathan.
Pratt: Was it Jonathan?
Q: But he didn’t really say that.
Pratt: You know, 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 want to go back and do exactly what we did in the first movie, so it’s steps up a little bit.
Q: Can you talk about one of the new characters, Mantis, and how Star-Lord gets along with her?
Pratt: You know, I can tell you that Pom is somebody who will be on your radar for the rest of your life after this. She is crushing it, and 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, I don’t know, 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, and it’s really nice that Pom is inhabiting a character that no one’s ever seen before, because she’s doing something no one’s ever seen before. And so, I mean, as far as how our relationship goes, I don’t want to get too much into that, but she’s a major part of this movie. And I think it’s safe to say like, a major member of “The Guardians of the Galaxy.”
Q: My son dressed as Star-Lord for Halloween.
Pratt: Oh that’s cool.
Q: So I’m wondering what it’s like to have all these kids come up to you and see you as Star-Lord? What’s that like?
Pratt: You know, it makes me really happy that the first introduction to Peter Quill being Star-Lord – I remember when James and I were collaborating on this, I think originally it was written, they said, “There is one more name you may know me by, Star-Lord.” And then he kicks the thing and then something cool goes off. But there was never that answer of, “Who?” Remember? I think that was something that got added in after I’d been cast. And I’m really glad that we added that in, because it really does feel like it’s changed. People didn’t know who Star-Lord was, and I mean, unless you were like a comic book fan and read “The Guardians of the Galaxy.” But it’s like, kids didn’t know who Star-Lord was. It’s like, 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 have been, just to be part of the process, you know, of bringing that to kids. And it just tickles me, man. I get it all the time, like, I’ll be calling and leaving kids voicemails on their phone, because some will come up to me at the airport. By the way, don’t put that in there, because I don’t want any more people coming up to me at the airport and asking me to leave a voicemail for their kids. (Laughs) For those few kids who got that, before I clearly stopped doing it, it’s really kind of special and it feels pretty cool.
Q: In the last movie, Drax says he wants to go after Thanos. We know from Kevin Feige, Thanos isn’t in this movie. Why don’t Star-Lord and the Guardians go after Thanos at the end?
Pratt: All in due time, my friend. You know, I think this is really falling into what I’m happy about, is like, expanding outward. 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 know, you can obviously see that, I think, in “Avengers” 3 and 4, and you’re going to see more stuff like that, where it’s not expanding outward, but more focusing inward. And I think we’re that branch that’s like, really reaching out, 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.
Q: Is there a character in the MCU that you’d love to work with, that you’re kind of dying one day hopefully they’ll pair you up with them?
Pratt: Oh my god, yes. There’s so many. I don’t really know how – because I don’t know what’s possible now that Marvel is under Disney and some Marvel characters are under different studios and some are in TV and some are in, I don’t know how it works. I think it would be awesome for Star-Lord to meet Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin somehow. That would be awesome.
Q: That could happen.
Pratt: That could happen?
Pratt: Okay. I’m going to tell them you said so. I’ll call Vince after this and say it’s on. That’d be awesome. I was always a fan of the Punisher. That was my dude who I loved growing up. I had 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.
Q: We saw him at the hotel, Jon Bernthal. (He was in town filming “Baby Driver”.)
Pratt: Oh is that right?
Pratt: Oh, is that right?
CS: We could make it happen.
Pratt: Oh that’d be awesome.
Q: It could be this, like, Guardians Marvel Netflix crossover.
Pratt: Hey, I feel like we can do that nowadays, right? I don’t know. Look, I’m clearly not responsible for making any of these decisions. I’ll kind of do anything they want me to do.
Q: Well, 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,” although he’s not in the second one, do you think that it’s sort of like a mandatory, and it might be too strong a word, but do you think it’s an important part of the “Guardians” journey, to intersect with him again in the “Infinity War” films?
Pratt: I mean, I don’t know. I don’t know. I mean, he’s a good baddie, but there’s a lot of good guys. You know, as much as Thanos was in “Guardians 1,” 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. You know, and I know Gamora, 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 at stake. Maybe Quill, because he loves these people and he knows how they’ve been affected by him. So I don’t know, like, 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 and “Infinity” too.
Q: What’s on your shirt? (Looking at the alien logo on his T-shirt.)
Pratt: Oh this. This is…
Q: Can you translate that for us?
Pratt: I can’t. 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, but 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, it’d be like wearing an ironic Reese’s Pieces shirt or something in space.[Gallery not found]