THERE'S a moment during the European press conference for the new Marvel movie Guardians Of The Galaxy when the proceedings teeter on the brink of spinning out of control.
Director James Gunn and star Chris Pratt, who plays the latest addition to the rollcall of Marvel cinematic heroes namely Peter (Star-Lord) Quill, are letting their imaginations run riot as to what might happen to Marvel heroes in the future.
“I would like to see them kill Thor,” says Pratt, referring to the chap with the big hammer but withdraws the suggestion when reminded that Chris Hemsworth, who plays him, was the only one of Marvel’s The Avengers, currently filming in the UK, who turned up at the Guardians premiere the night before.
Then Gunn recalls a ”ridiculous conversation” he and Pratt had when driving the other day. “We were talking about all the different things that could happen to the Guardians in the universe, as we do endlessly,” he explains.
“He was saying, ‘I really, really think that Star-Lord should kill Iron Man. It would be so awesome if he came down and shot Tony Stark in the face. People would be so surprised’.”
“Yes they would,” reiterates Pratt, sitting on the conference platform with Gunn and co-stars Karen Gillan, Zoe Saldana and Dave Bautista.
I’m not sure Marvel would be so happy for their superheroes to start killing each other or for Peter Quill to seduce someone to Lionel Richie’s Hello, another Pratt idea. “It is really a fact that aliens love Lionel Richie,” he adds.
The entertaining press conference is a reflection of the film itself. Guardians Of The Galaxy is a spirited addition to the comic book genre that mixes old-style thrills with science fiction outer space malarkey.
The cast also features a familiar space traveller, Karen Gillan, who played Doctor Who’s companion Amy Pond and sacrificed her long red hair to play blue baddy Nebula (below).
“I just got a call from my agent asking if I was willing to shave my head for a role in a Marvel film. And I said absolutely,” she explains. “Then I just went and auditioned at the studio, and did a screen test and got the role.”
She certainly impressed director Gunn. “Her screen test is my favourite audition of anybody in the entire process. She was so good. She took this pretty simple character and created a whole character who was pretty moving. She just has these little moments in the movie where you can see there’s more to Nebula that just being villainous”.
Pratt, who’s set to star in the new Jurassic Park movie, felt that he and Gunn gelled “in a nice way” from the start: “Almost immediately I felt I was right, my spirit was right for this character and the way I sounded was the way he sounded. But I didn’t look the part. I wasn’t walking around in the right vehicle yet. I had to convince them I could change my shape.”
Chris Pratt in action
Gunn felt the connection with all four actors seated beside him – Pratt, Gillan, Zoe Saldana (green-skinned assassin Gamora) and Dave Bautista (the WWE wrestler who plays Drax the Destroyer). “We just totally got along. It’s one of those cool things where you still love everyone at the end of the project that you liked so much at the beginning,” he says.
He even took one of the cast as his date to the London premiere – Oreo the raccoon who was the “reference raccoon” for the digitally-created character of Rocket. “He’s a rescue raccoon. He was rescued when he was only four days old. He’s a real sweet little guy,” says Gunn.
As this is the first Guardians movie – a sequel has already been announced with Gunn directing again – he had the freedom to create and shape the characters and their stories.
“One of the appeals of the project was to create a world. I would have a very hard time doing a sequel to another Marvel movie or setting up another character to be in the Avengers,” he says.
“I felt a lot of freedom in creating this movie and I’m very grateful to Marvel because every time I came up with some crazy idea – like let’s just have a seven-page scene where the principals argue about stupid stuff at the beginning of the third act – and Marvel was great, we love it. Let’s have all those bright colours like 1950s and 1960s movie, we love it.
“The labour of it was special and we felt we were doing something that was very new, very unique and also harking back to the films we all loved as a kid. I remember how I felt when I saw Raiders Of The Lost Ark as a little kid. So many movies are dark and brooding. We were able to create something that’s a little bit more fun but has the emotional weight and heart to it as well.”
Pratt added something of his own too – Quill’s dance moves. “That was a throwback like everything about Peter Quill is 1988 or earlier. So I thought Michael Jackson, some moves from the disco era, some early hip hop and stuff like that,” he explains.
“I remember at that time me and my brother would have dance offs in the basement. Those were my moves on screen.”
No dancing for Bautista’s Drax but he had to have his body covered in tribal tattoos but took the hours in make-up in his stride. “That was okay, not as bad as some people think,” he says.
“You just imagine yourself hanging out with five of your friends for four hours. There’s conversation and a lot of laughs. It was hard doing it consecutive days when I had three, four hours in the make-up chair. After six days in a row your skin feels sensitive and you just want to get clean, a shower and stuff.”
Finding the right shade of green for Saldana’s (above, left, with Chris Pratt) make-up proved difficult. “If I could go back, even though she’s green in the comic books I’d change her colour because it was so long, so hard to find a green that worked and people would believe,” says Gunn.
“We have other characters who are blue, yellow, pink and found all those colours were natural to human beings in a strange sort of way. You could find a colour that looks like skin. Green was really hard and took a long time. It really was a struggle. Green is not a natural colour that looks good on the skin. It’s a testament to Zoe’s facial features too that it ends up looking good.”
Gillan had the longest in make-up chair being turned blue. “I didn’t have to stand up or put my arms out while they applied the make-up. I just watched Pulp Fiction on repeat,” she says.
Guardians Of The Galaxy (12A) opens in cinemas on July 31.