Guardians Of The Galaxy's James Gunn Talks Al Pacino, Star Wars, And No Motion Capture

James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy surprised most pundits by becoming the top-grossing film of [...]

James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy surprised most pundits by becoming the top-grossing film of 2014 and challenging conventional wisdom about what makes for a good comic book movie.

With the film coming to Blu-ray, Gunn is making the media rounds one last time in support of it, while he works on Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and has already started dealing with an awards season that's sure to be full of nominations for the movie.

Gunn joined to talk about the film, which is available on streaming services now and is coming to DVD and Blu-ray on December 9.

I spoke with one of the members of your cast this week. My last question for him was what he would ask James Gunn about the film. So here it is: "What is it like to work with America's greatest living actor, Mr. Michael Rooker?"

[Laughs] I'm thinking that that should be, "What is it like working with America's greatest actor?" And then Michael Rooker is asking the question. But I know what it probably is, is "What is it like living with America's greatest living actor, Michael Rooker," which it shouldn't be. But I would say, it's great working with Benicio del Toro! He's an amazing actor and he's one of my favorite guys in the world! [Laughs] That's how I would answer that question.

Now that you're hard at work on the sequel, what do you look back on with this film and say, "Oh, thank God?"

Thank God? So many thank Gods.The first thing is thank God I held out for Chris Pratt to come along, because we screen tested many, many actors before we got to Chris. I'd say thank God that I fought for Dave Bautista to be Drax, which people were not initially on board with but I just cannot imagine anyone else being that character. There's a lot of thank Gods. Thank God I had Kevin Feige there in post to really figure out how to make this movie work the best. There's so many people that I am grateful for that helped this movie along its path.

The cast, as it took shape, people thought it was going to be either amazing or a total mess. Now that everybody loves it, who do you want to see supporting their own solo feature when you're onto the next project and the actors still have movies left on their deal?

Well, you know, it really depends. I'd like to see solo features from all of them. Obviously there's a great Rocket and Groot movie that could come out of this. I love many of the characters. I love all these characters so much it's hard to say who I would like to see made into a solo movie by someone else. It depends on who that someone else is. The truth is, I'd rather not see a solo movie made poorly by someone who didn't understand the character and whose heart wasn't in it.

Along the way, Cooper and Diesel were late additions. Is there any chance of seeing them doing mocap in the second feature, or -- ?

No, no, no. First of all, you can't mocap a raccoon. It just can't happen. A raccoon's face is very different from a human's face and a raccoon's body is very different from a human's body, so there is no way to mocap a raccoon to make it work.

Groot, I mocapped myself and tries mocap tests with...doesn't really work great, either. He doesn't really move like a human being so there is no such thing as mocap, it's motion reference. And as far as I'm concerned, the team of Bradley Cooper and Sean Gunn as Rocket works extraordinarily well and that's going to be the team that will continue to be Rocket. For Groot, it's a little bit different because Groot really is created in post to some extent, so it's a different story. You definitely won't see mocap. We motion referenced everything we did.

And for the record, Bradley Cooper was not a late addition, he was just a late announcement. He was there before we started shooting, or right as we started shooting. He was already on board.

Talking about the way he moves, I have to ask: will Groot be a sprout the whole second film, or will we get a time jump?

I think you'll have to wait to see. I'm not going to give up the Groot just yet, so you'll have to see where he goes in the second film.

Are there any Easter eggs left that fans haven't spotted yet? I feel like I've seen about a thousand posts about them all.

Yeah, there's definitely some things that people haven't seen. There's definitely one really big thing that people haven't seen, but they may never see it -- we'll see. There's other things, too. The other day, I posted on my Instagram a picture of the other guys going for the Infinity Stone in the temple of Morag and I didn't see anybody bringing that up until just a couple of weeks ago.

I do notice that people are noticing more things now that they've got the digital download. People are starting to see things that they didn't notice in the theaters, even those people who saw it twenty times.


#gotgpicoftheday One of the panels in the temple on Morag. #gotg #guardiansofthegalaxy Blu Ray out in the UK today!

A photo posted by James Gunn (@jamesgunn) on

Both from the cinematic and the publishing side, these characters have exploded for Marvel. Is it gratifying knowing that you're helping some of these characters come along?

Yes, of course, yes! I'm extremely happy. I'm happy and I'm grateful that Marvel took a chance on me and I'm happy to see the influence. The truth is, the movie had a big influence on the book before. Brian [Michael Bendis] was one of the first people to read the script. So it's always been there but I think the influence now is the popularity of the's a very cool thing to see.

Would you ever consider writing a comic book series?

A Guardians comic or something else?


Yeah. Oh, yeah. I had talks with [Marvel Editor-in-Chief] Axel Alonso years ago. I had a comic book planned that I was going to do for Marvel and I really still love the story quite a bit but I just haven't had the time to get to it. So there's been a couple of times I've talked with him about doing books and it's really a matter of time. I'm a perfectionist. I don't just write and put stuff out there which I guess would be possible at this point in my career but it doesn't interest me. I really have to put the time into what I create to make sure it's worthy of being put out into the world, and I just haven't had time to do that.

That aspect of your personality certainly came out with Guardians, since you were editing so publicly and everybody knew when you were finished and when you weren't. Has your process changed at all, or has your work always been that open, but now there are just more people paying attention?

It's that I've always been open about it and now everybody notices. I'm actually more private now about certain things than I used to be simply because every time I post something, I have to assume that there's going to be a post about it. So I'm a little bit more careful about what I share than I used to be. But listen, I'm just a normal person and I know when I was a kid, I really liked being able to see people who I admired in the film industry, what the process was like for them. 

I figure it's a way of giving back to the community and to the fans to just share the basics of what's going on -- to share my truth, the way I look at things -- and I feel really good doing that. I feel like it takes away some of the false magic of the film industry that is people who prop themselves up and make themselves look like something not quite human. That's not really the way it is so I like keeping in touch with people that way. It also helps me keep in touch with the average, ordinary fans and knowing what's going on with them -- what they like, what turns them on, what doesn't, what are they into, what are they not into? I don't want to become a guy that's driving my 30 Ferraris and sitting in my penthouse and not in touch with what's going on on the streets -- and these days, the streets is Twitter and Facebook. 

You've been open about the fact that you wanted to work with Michael again, and so you wrote Yondu for him...


Now, if I had Al Pacino champing at the bit to work with there somebody you're thinking you could find a way to fit him into?

Yeah, for sure. I'm a huge, huge Al Pacino fan and I would love to find a way to work with him, whether it was in a Guardians movie or something else. The truth is that the next Guardians film, I've had so much of it worked out for a long time that I'm not sure there is a role to write there for Al Pacino, or for anybody else in particular. But yeah, of course, I always have those guys who I admire and I look up to and I'm always excited to write a role for them.

Okay, so here's the obligatory last question: Star Wars. With the success of Guardians, has it crossed your mind?

Yeah, and I have no interest. No interest. I actually just hung out with JJ [Abrams] this morning and I f---ing love him and I love what he's doing and I'm so incredibly excited for the new Star Wars. I mean, really honestly I am like a child inside excited for the new Star Wars. I have no interest in it. I really like creating my own thing. I wouldn't have been interested in doing a sequel to another Marvel film. What really excited me about Guardians was being able to create my own universe and that's what excites me. Star Wars is my thing as an audience member, but it's not my thing as a creator; it's not what I"m into doing.