In 2014 Marvel Studios is going to take their biggest risk to date, adapting Guardians of the Galaxy for the big screen. We’re not talking one of their bigger titles here; this ain’t Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, or Hulk. This relatively unknown series is about a bunch of weird alien outlaws zooming around the depths of space having adventures. And that’s not all, the cast, while excellent, isn’t exactly full of proven box office draws. Chris Pratt, most known for playing schlubby good guys and off the wall best friends, takes the lead, Peter Quill/Star-Lord. I think he’ll be awesome, but he’s not the bankable star you might expect. The studio is obviously relying on their name do draw viewers—that hook at the end of Thor: The Dark World probably doesn’t hurt matters, either.
Pratt sat down with Fandango to discuss the role, how he got it, and working with maverick director James Gunn. Doing something so different is bound to be a stressful, risky proposition, and there has to be a great deal of trust between the collaborators. He says, “I was really in James’ hands…I’ve never done anything like it. I learned early on to trust him.”
You often hear actors talk about connecting with something in the script. There was a scene or a moment, or even a line of dialogue that, when they read the script, made everything else click into place. Pratt, however, travelled a different path since he didn’t actually read the script before he signed on. Other factors drew him to the project. He says:
Just the fact that he was part of the Marvel brand was really exciting…I was signed up to do the movie before I was even allowed to read a script, so it wasn’t like something about this particular character that got me to do it. The fact that it was a Marvel movie is what got me to do it.
That’s probably a hard proposition to pass on, even if you don’t get a peek at the script before hand. Imaging you’re a mid-level actor on the rise, Marvel shows up on your doorstep, probably with a decent-sized pile of money, and says, “we’d like you to be in this super weird movie about a team of alien superheroes.” Who among us would turn that offer down?
Just because Pratt didn’t get to read the Guardians script before hand, doesn’t mean he didn’t find things to glom onto once he laid eyes on it. He continues:
Granted, once I did read it there were so many things about the character that I love, and one thing is that he’s very much a kid at heart…He’s like a man-child. And I like the idea that he’s got a false sense of bravado. Deep down inside he’s lonely and desperate. But on the outside he walks around like he’s big and tough, and I don’t think he does a great job of convincing everybody that he’s not just a scared little child.
From this description, Star-Lord sounds like an ideal fit for Pratt. He’s got movie-star good looks, and a ton of charisma, but he’s also funny as all hell. When your movie involves talking raccoons and a seven-foot tall alien tree, you’re going to need a secure sense of humor. But as we saw in Zero Dark Thirty, he can also play tough when he needs to, another trait that will definitely come in handy when engaged in battles in deep space.
Guardians of the Galaxy also stars Zoe Saldana, Benicio Del Toro, Michael Rooker, Glenn Close, Lee Pace, Karen Gillan, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper’s voice, and maybe Vin Diesel, and opens August 1, 2014.