At Comic-con this year, the audience at the panel for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 were treated to a fun surprise when a group of Ravagers walked in.
Mostly it seemed to laugh and insult people. But also to make it known that the Ravagers are a big part of the upcoming movie. Recently I got to sit down with one of the actors behind the makeup.
Joe Fria, who plays Oblo, is a Los Angeles-based actor, who onstage has played such iconic roles as Sherlock Holmes and Buster Keaton. Those who do not live in L.A. might recognize him from appearances on Gilmore Girls (in which his fellow Ravager Sean Gunn also appeared regularly) and Community.
I still want to start off with how you ended up in the film in the first place. Can you tell that story of it?
Yeah. Well, I've known James for almost 20 years I guess now. We've done a few small projects together over the years, mostly internet stuff. PG Porn and Humanzee! and a couple other things. A little over a year ago I had a phone call from him about a horror movie called The Belko Experiment and then went to Columbia and shot that. He was on set one or two days there because he didn't direct it. He just wrote it. I had this very heavy dramatic scene where something dramatic happens in my life. I can't really give away plot points on that either, but he was there and he saw it and he was so impressed by that level of acting that I was doing because he just had never seen me act like that before. It was mostly comedy and stuff.
I think that planted the seed in his mind of maybe using me in the Guardians movie. The way it actually technically went down is I didn't hear from him when casting started. I saw that they were doing local hiring in Atlanta for small roles in film, so I called up his assistant and I asked him if I could just play a background [inaudible 00:01:36] just because I just want to be a part of it. I would work as a local hire. He said, "Well, let me talk to James about it." Came back a week later and he's like, "James actually has a part for you and it's a good part. And he's actually combining two characters to give you a bigger part in the movie." That's how it happened.
Do you know which two characters it was originally?
I don't. No, I'm sure it was probably two smaller Ravager roles that he made into one Ravager, yeah.
You once actually voiced a raccoon for him right?
I did. Yeah, that's right. Sparky & Mikaela, yeah.
That must have been fun for you to see how far that's gone for him.
Yeah. I mean that was such a cool thing, and I'm so sad. We were going to do a series. We were going to do a series for Xbox and that whole deal fell apart, but it was such a cool thing. I was a superhero raccoon. I puppeted the raccoon, did the voice. Originally, he was going to ... This happens a lot with James. Originally, he was going to stunt cast the voice and he wanted me to do ... He knew I did puppetry. He wanted me to puppet it, somebody else's voice. We had a conversation about it and I tried to tell him that it's incredibly difficult to do good puppetry if you're not actually doing the voice as well. I mean it's just doesn't really ... It's really hard to line it up and make it seem organic.
I talked to him and he let me do the voice, so I just gave him a hear. He says, "Give me a voice," and I started doing a voice. He's like, "That's it. We're doing it." That was really fun.
That's a little full circle for him then that now that he's got Rocket Racoon.
Yeah, Rocket? Yeah. I was the original raccoon.
I'm kind of picturing in my head now you and Bradley Cooper having a showdown, a raccoon-off.
That would be awesome. Maybe at the premiere.
All right. I couldn't help noticing in the photos of you, you have some very interesting facial hair in this movie.
I do, yes.
Is that real?
That was real. At Comic Con it wasn't because I was clean shaved. They had to add it back on, but yes, it was real.
When I found out I got the role, James said, "Don't shave," so I grew out a big beard. When I flew out into Atlanta do the makeup tests, we did full red makeup. I went out there with the wig on.
He didn't like the mustache. I think he thought it made him look too human. He wanted it to look something a little stranger looking, so we went with the Abe Lincoln mustache when he's like, "That's it. That's perfect."
That must have been fun just walking around town.
I was the hottest guy in Atlanta. It's funny to wear a beard like that. You get some odd looks from people.
What was the experience like filming such a big scale production?
It's hard to compute what's happening when you're there. It's so big and so well done. I mean you want to be professional, obviously. That's the number one thing is you want to go and you want to do a good job as an actor. But there are moments when you're inside of a spaceship that is the size of a convention center that they built that's fully there. It's a freight thing, container, inside of a spaceship and you're like inside of it. It's insane stuff.
Fun, challenging. There's a lot of being starstruck. There are moments like that and you have to focus in because as much as you're looking around at the set and going, "Oh my god. This is the biggest movie I ever been on," then you turn and there's somebody right there you've been watching in movies forever and you're just like, "What the hell is going on in here. This is amazing."
Who made you the most starstruck?
Well, I guess it's officially announced, yeah, right. Yeah, Stallone. Obviously, yeah. There are levels of stars where you just can't...what do you say? It's like, "Hey. So you're my hero." And where do we go from there?
Seems like he'd be real nice about that because he's someone who really built his own career.
Yeah. He was super sweet. I mean he was very focused and professional obviously, but he was goofing around too and it was fun. He was cool about it.
All your Ravagers probably got pretty close filming together all the time.
We did, yeah.
Were there any sort of hijinks or pranks that you can share with from set?
Wow. Let me think about that. I don't think there were any major pranks. I mean, you didn't really have to get any pranks or high jinks. It's just the personalities of the guys were enough. It was constant joking around. Rooker's a maniac. Trying to do your close-up and he's mooning you from across the set. It's just like-
Rooker moons you?
Yeah. That was probably the most high jinks thing that happened. Yeah.
Can you tell us about some of the other guys or some of the other characters do you ... Some of the other Ravagers who you were friends with?
Well, Steve Agee plays Gef the Ravager, which is hilarious because that was not his name. Chris Sullivan who plays Taserface and Steve ... They instantly were like brothers from another mother and they were constantly joking around. Chris Sullivan just started calling him Gef because he thought it was funny. You have all these crazy names, Oblo and Taserface, Gef.
Gef, that's pretty great.
Yeah. He would just yell at him like, "Gef! Stop it Gef!" Gef the Ravager and I have a very tumultuous relationship. That was a lot of fun to play with. It's cool being like a comic element in a movie like that. It shows a lot of faith coming from James that he gives you the opportunity to do that because he's got such a great sense of humor. He writes those things for people who can really do them well. That was cool. Yeah, Chris Sullivan ... He's such a great actor and kind of like a [menshy 00:08:55] guy on set. Who else? Evan who was ... What was his name? Potato ... He was name [inaudible 00:09:10]. He played Eminem's best friend. He was great. We got along really well. We actually bonded on the bus to Comic Con because everybody else drove themselves or took the train or whatever. He and I were the only ones on this bus that they got for us, so we bonded on that ride. Comic Con was amazing. We all got a lot closer at Comic Con because it was just us hanging out and goofing around without having to worry about acting [inaudible 00:09:44].
Yeah, can you talk a little bit more about the experience at going to Comic Con and being there in character rather than as yourself?
Yeah. That was a little odd. I mean, it was cool to be able to do it. We wouldn't have been there if it weren't for that. We wouldn't have been there out of costume. It's not like we would've been on the panel. It was really odd because I don't think people really knew what was going on. Potentially, I think they got it, but I don't think any of the rest of the Marvel actors who were there backstage.
I'm standing next to Benedict Cumberbatch. He doesn't know that I'm in Guardians of the Galaxy. As a matter of fact, after we were done, we were out on the loading dock and I walked up to him. I had to say something. I'm like, "Hey man. I'm a huge fan. Sherlock's like one of my favorite shows and I played Sherlock Holmes for years," and he hugged me. I was like, "Whoa. Benedict Cumberbatch is hugging me."
Then all the other guys were trying to get us onto the bus. They were like, "All right. We gotta go. We gotta go." They're kind of like pulling me away.
As I'm like being pulled away, he goes, "And you did a great job with this," as if to say I was like a fanboy from Comic Con who had just dressed up like this. I was like trying to get the words out. "No I'm in the movie," as they're pulling me away, but I didn't get a chance to so he just thinks I was some weird fanboy.
Really good at cosplay.
Yeah, exactly. Yeah.
How long did it take to get you all that red makeup on and the wig and everything?
It started out about an hour and a half, then they got it down to about 40 minutes. At Comic Con, it took almost two hours. The beard was a new element and they had to figure out how to work it in. With the different techniques, the beard wasn't sticking to the makeup. It took a while to figure that out, but there were a lot of pictures with all the guys hanging out without me because I was still in the makeup chair.
Oh. Did everyone elses makeup take as long on set, or was there someone who like really was just gone all the time?
My good buddy Stevie. Well, Chris Sullivan too. Blackheart is also James' best friend, was in the first Guardians. Got a bigger part in this one, which is awesome. But the only way he could do it because you see his face is he is this intense alien. Four hours of makeup.
All prosthetic, full prosthetic head. He was one who was always in the makeup chair. We had to get there at like the crack of dawn.
I'm sure Chris Pratt takes ten minutes.
Yeah, exactly. He just rolls out of bed. "You're fine."
It's tough on those guys because prosthetics, they don't really breath very well. You get really super hot. They just start filling up with your sweat, so they would have to like open up an earhole and drain the sweat out. It's really really uncomfortable stuff. Yeah, creature acting stuff is pretty impressive.
All right. Let's see. Any word yet on if the Ravagers are going to be coming back maybe in Infinity Wars or something else in the future?
Well, there are whispers. Kevin Feige, the head of Marvel ... When we first met, about Comic Con, he's like, "You guys are one of our favorite things about this film. It's why we're doing this." Then he mentioned a couple things today they're talking about. We're all like, "Ah, really?" He's like, "Well, we'll just get this movie done first." We're like, "Okay. You got our number. Give us a call."
Don't jinx it.
Exactly, yeah. So, who knows?
You have another movie very recently, right? An indie rom-com?
Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Absolutely. It's called First Comes Like. It's a really beautiful little script. Very simple, but it's really never been done before. I was really impressed with how he pulled it off. Essentially it is a love story between two people who meet on Tinder. The whole movie is from the time that they swipe each other till they are about to meet, so they never actually meet in the movie.
They never actually meet in the movie, so it was very challenging because it was all either texting or talking on earbuds or Skype. She was never in the room with him. Kind of hard to do a love story when the person you're falling in love with is in another room with you.
That's a modern love story. That's what's going on right now. When we did the screening, people flipped out over it. They loved it, so I'm hoping it does really well in the festival circuit, gets out there.
People can keep an eye out for that hopefully soon?
I'd hope so. Right now they're trying to get it into festivals who knows, maybe next year? Yeah.
All right. Just one last thing to finish up. I know you can't really give away any spoilers, but is there anything you want to tease to the Guardians of the Galaxy fans who are looking so forward to this movie and have such a long wait still?
Sure. It's going to be in focus. The focus is going to be really incredible. That's all I can say about that.