What’s it like to watch the filming of Guardians of the Galaxy 2? Find out during this exclusive James Gunn Interview and behind-the-scenes look. This post is sponsored by Disney. All galactic opinions are my own
All photos courtesy of Disney/Marvel
James Gunn Interview | Filming Guardians of the Galaxy 2
[Cue music] Mama said there’d be days like this. There’d be days like this my mama said.
I’m standing inside of the biggest warehouse I’ve ever seen. Everything is covered in green screen. In the middle of the room is a gigantic galactic rock. Wires hang from the ceiling. Lights, computers, digital technology everywhere. A crew flying around the room with conviction. You see James Gunn sitting in his chair, observing the entire scene. And then we have The Guardians of the Galaxy: Star-Lord, Gamora, Nebula, Yondu, and Drax holding a very limp Pom in his arms.
And then Drax speaks. I turn bright red. Did he really just say that?
“Ow, my nipples!”
Yes, this is the scene they were filming during my Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 set visit, right after Pom gets hit in the head by a giant fireball. 3 words said over and over and over… as wires lift Drax and Pom into the air.
I was enraptured. You know how everyone has a dream of working in the movies? Standing there, I could understand why. The adrenaline. The stars. The action. I can see why people live for moments like this. I did. And while this may go down in history as the oddest moment in my Guardians trip, it was also the most exhilarating. Shooting a Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 movie is more than a few cues and ACTION.
There’s a lot of downtime too. Lighting adjustments. Place markers. Stand-ins practicing their roles. And so much laughter. I caught a private moment between Michael Rooker and Karen Gillan between takes. Yondu was teaching Nebula how to sing The Shirelles song “Mama Said.” The Scottish woman was having trouble putting the right American accent on the word “mama.” And it was completely adorable. Man, I hope that song is in Awesome Mix 2.
And it was during the downtime, we sat down with Director James Gunn for an insider’s look at Guardians of the Galaxy 2.
The Sequel Inside My Head
James Gunn is a note taker, for all of you future directors. Where did the idea of Guardians 2 come from? Inside the head of James Gunn – during the first film.
A lot of the sequel ideas about Quill’s relationship to his two fathers, basically Yondu and the character Kurt Russell plays… The mythology of all of that was something that was written before the first movie was written. I knew basically where he was going, basically who his father was, basically what Yondu’s relationship was to his father. Then the story started to ferment during the first movie. I was always taking notes and thinking about it. And I knew this was a story. I wasn’t sure if it should be the sequel. I wasn’t sure if it should be like a third movie in a trilogy. And then when it came time to actually write the screenplay, I’m like, “Let’s just go for broke and do the story that I had in my head, which was this one. I really started actually physically writing the treatment on the first day, on the day the first movie came out. I was at a loss. What am I gonna do, sit around and wait to see how much money we make or whatever? I gotta do something to distract myself and I found the healthiest thing to do was just to get back in part of the process that I had some control over, which was processing my own work as opposed to being concerned with what the results were.
What Makes the Awesome Mix Awesome
The Guardians of the Galaxy music is so much more than just a soundtrack. It’s a character within itself. Awesome Mix 2 promises to be just as good if not better.
Music is really the character of Peter Quill’s mom, so that’s his relationship with his mother is through the music. Music’s an important thing in my own life. It’s something that keeps that relationship alive. And that relationship is very much kept alive in this second movie. His relationship with his mother, his relationship with his father and what that is exactly – that’s told through music. I think in the first movie, there’s another practical reason which is that people were going into this movie: different planets, different worlds, different characters from other planets, and the music was a way we kept everybody grounded in something that was attached to earth, something that was familiar in the midst of all this unfamiliar stuff. Something that was an emotional tether, basically, to earth.
Is Rocket Still the Favorite Child?
James Gunn has no qualms with admitting who his favorite character is in Guardians of the Galaxy (as told in my first interview with Director James Gunn). But now working on the sequel, does he still have a thing for raccoons?
Yeah. He still is. I mean Baby Groot…He’s pretty awesome. And there’s times when we’re shooting and it’s nothing. It’s either a little stick, or I’m describing it and then afterwards the guys are like, “Oh, dang. The stick guy- Baby Groot’s gonna steal the whole movie.” And he’s not even there. I can tell you on the first movie, we were barely aware of Groot. He wasn’t that present on set. I mean my brother, Sean, played Rocket. So he was always there and everybody knew Rocket as a real character. But Groot wasn’t there, and then we kind of start putting the movie together and creating Groot in post, and it was like, “Oh wow.” The character really fills out once we started to create him. So I love Baby Groot.
But Rocket’s the one. I just relate so deeply to Rocket. I think that in this [movie], it’s really about Rocket. You get that first flush of accepting friendship and love which he had in the first movie. And this movie is about being able to continue some form of intimacy, which is much, much harder for him to accept that because of where he came from. And through that I think he forms a pretty tight bond with Yondu, who has a similar background. Yondu’s an older guy who never accepted love, never accepted people that loved him, never accepted any of that. And to be able to have Rocket. It’s not so much about him learning to love other people, it’s about him learning to accept the love and affection of other creatures. I love him as much as ever.
So is James Gunn taking notes for Guardians 3 right now? Do we foresee a trifecta?
I really wanted to do number two when I was doing number one. I definitely would really be, you know…mostly because I loved the people that I’m making the movie with, the actors but also the producers. The idea of three is very interesting in that way. But I don’t know if I’m gonna do that. But to answer your question, yes. I come up with ideas every day for what could be future Guardians movies, and also other movies to have those individual characters go off and tell different stories. It’s just sort of what my brain does all the time.
It’s Not About the Message, It’s About People
Fitting that a conversation we had with James Gunn about 1 year ago still has so much relevance in today’s world. Movies are so much more than entertainment. Movies can change lives. What message does Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 have for fans?
I don’t think so much about what’s the message of the movie, so much as what’s the affect it has on people? And for me, the reason I make movies is that when I was a kid and I saw a great movie with my family and it made me love people more when I walked out of the theater than when I walked in. So if there’s anything that this movie can do, it’s that. I think it’s a really, truly emotional film. I think the first one was emotional, and I think we take this one to a much deeper level of the emotion. That’s a big part of it.
But I also think it’s a lot about The Guardians [as] a group of outcasts. They’re all creatures or people who don’t belong in society anywhere, but [belong] with each other. And one of the very moving things to me from the first movie is just getting messages from all the people who feel like they’re outsiders, who relate to the Guardians. Whether it’s Gamora or a lot of people relate to Drax and to Groot. A lot of young children really relate to Groot. There’s been a lot of people with autism who relate to Drax because he has a very different way of perceiving the world and metaphors. I can’t tell you countless people that have written me, “thank you for that.” I don’t understand metaphors, and Drax is like me. He’s a superhero to me. They’re outsiders and I think seeing them belong…I also think the story is a story about kids from families that are not traditional and a lot of different kinds of fathers. Peter Quill has a biological father. He has an adopted father. His adopted father is far from perfect, but that’s somebody who I think the movie should lead us to.
James Gunn is never boring. I just love being in the room with this creative genius. Wondering what that “Ah, my nipples!” scene really looks like? Yup, it’s this shot from the latest Extended Spot. Pretty cool, huh? And now I can say that I’ve been there! As I wrap up the final installment of my top secret trip to the set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, I found this quote from James Gunn as the perfect ender to this adventure.
The first story was about becoming a family, and this one’s about being a family.
Y’all, it’s been a BIG week of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Have you been keeping up with all of the spoilers, interviews and big reveals? Now’s the time to catch up!
- 50 Things I Learned On Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Chris Pratt Interview
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Zoe Saldana Interview
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Dave Bautista Interview
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Michael Rooker Interview
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Karen Gillan Interview
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Kurt Russell Interview
And if you haven’t checked out my first ever press trip for Guardians of the Galaxy, get all of the exclusive interviews:
- Vin Diesel Interview for Guardians of the Galaxy HERE
- My First Chris Pratt Interview for Guardians of the Galaxy HERE
- My First Zoe Saldana Interview for Guardians of the Galaxy HERE
- My First Dave Bautista Interview for Guardians of the Galaxy HERE
- My First Director James Gunn Interview for Guardians of the Galaxy HERE
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, in theaters May 5, 2017. Are you excited for this epic Marvel sequel?
I was invited to attend an all-inclusive press trip to the set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 in exchange for this posting. All Marvel-loving opinions are my own. Be sure to follow Raising Whasians for more of your of the latest Disney movie updates!