Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-LogoThis evening was the UK premiere of Iron Man 3, and among the crowds of great and good heading down to watch the movie was Guardians of the Galaxy director, James Gunn.

There have been all sorts of rumours surrounding Guardians, which will begin filming in the UK in a few months’ time, and so we took the time to find out exactly what’s happening.

During the course of our interview Gunn confirmed:

  • The project starts shooting at the end of June.
  • Chris Pratt, Michael Rooker are signed on to the project. He wouldn’t confirm Zoe Saldana or Dave Bautista’s involvement outright, but from his answers, there’s no question that they’re on. He even explained why he cast Bautista.
  • We’ll find out who’s playing Rocket Racoon in the next few weeks, but it’s not likely to be Jason Statham.
  • In spite of the impression some of the concept art may have given, it’s going to be ‘very, very different from Star Wars’.
  • Rocket Racoon is the ‘heart’ of the movie, and the design has moved on a bit from the concept art we saw a couple of months ago.
  • Robert Downey Jr is not involved. Either as a major cast member, or as a cameo.

UPDATE: Here’s some more details culled from a casting call, which gives more information on some of the characters.

Check out the full transcript of the interview below:

HeyUGuys: I take it you’re here because you’re filming at Pinewood the moment?

James Gunn: Shepperton we’re filming at. We’re not filming right now, we start filming at the end of June.

HUG: I saw the other day the Michael Rooker is now involved.

JG: Well, I didn’t say that. Michael Rooker is my very good friend, he was here visiting me in England and we were hanging out. He was here playing with my dog and having a good time. He’s got a new, little Mohawk that looks ridiculous on him, but yeah, he’s here and hopefully we’ll get something going. Michael’s been in two of my movies, we’ve done two movies together, two reality shows, a short film, so I don’t think it would be crazy to think he would be involved in Guardians in some way.

HUG: While we’re talking about the cast, did you hear that Brian Michael Bendis imagines Rocket Racoon with Jason Statham’s voice?

JG: I did not see that mentioned, no.

Q: Do you think he’d be good for the role?

JG: I think there’s – here’s the thing: there are a lot of people who have a lot of ideas of who is right for Rocket Racoon. Rocket Racoon has been slightly different over the years, in the comic books, and within my scripts he is a very, very specific guy, and I think people are going to have to wait for a few weeks before they see.

Q: Who would be your dream guy?

JG: We’ll have to wait for a few weeks to see. We’ll get our dream guy, because a lot of people want to do it, so we’ll get the person who’s perfect for the role.

HUG: The concept art that’s come out makes it look a lot like Star Wars. There’s a piece that looks almost like the Mos Eisley Cantina scene.

JG: I do think we’re very, very different from Star Wars. Some of the concept art that came out is under my tutelage, and some of it is before my tutelage. The concept art that came out is only stuff that was on the big Marvel collected disc set, talking about phase two and it had some stuff from Guardians. Some of the art by Charlie Wen and the guys.

The Rocket that was by itself was an early version of my Rocket that I dealt with Charlie when developing. He doesn’t look so much like that anymore, but there’s a lot of similarities in that he’s more of a grounded, real little creature as opposed to a cartoonish thing.

HUG: Because you were talking about filming real racoons, weren’t you?

JG: We did. I’ve done a lot of studying with real racoons, and we had real racoons come in. We’ve done photography with them, I’ve played with racoons, and fed racoons, and dealt a lot with real racoons to get some of the behaviour down, because it’s really, really important to me that Rocket Racoon, who is the heart of the movie, is not a cartoon character, it’s not Bugs Bunny in the middle of The Avengers, it’s a real, little, somewhat mangled beast that’s alone. There’s no one else in the universe quite like him, he’s been created by these guys to be a mean-ass fighting machine.

HUG: Presumably this is going to be very different from the Marvel films we’ve seen so far.

JG:  In some ways yes, but in some ways no. In terms of a lot of stuff we’re very much like The Avengers, where it’s a very big, huge movie. It’s different because it’s cosmic, it’s in outer space, it’s very colourful. We have a whole history of science fiction behind us that we’re dealing with, and borrowing from, and also fighting with to create something unique. But at the same time there’s a lot of stuff it has in common with The Avengers.

HUG: Presumably it’s not a superhero movie, as such.

JG: How you define a superhero movie is very difficult. To say that Drax or Gamora aren’t super heroes, it’s difficult. Even Quill. They are superheroes in a way.  I think it is a superhero movie.

Q: And we’re going to see Zoe Saldana as well.

JG: [smiling] Maybe. [laughs]

HUG: What can you confirm cast-wise?

JG: Everybody knows Chris Pratt is in the movie, and I saw maybe 80 to 100 guys read for Peter Quill. I was very specific that I wanted it to be somebody really extraordinary. I really had Robert Downey Jr in mind a lot. You had this guy who came in and he inhabited Tony Stark, when you first saw Tony Stark he blew your mind, you couldn’t believe what you were seeing. I knew that I needed somebody to blow my mind like that.

We saw a lot of very famous guys for the role, a lot of very well-known people, and very, very good actors. We saw a lot of good performances, but it wasn’t until Chris came in and he read and I was like, ‘oh my God’, this guy has his own, very particular, amazing take on the character that blew my mind, blew me away. Then I thought, this is the first guy I could see sharing the screen with Robert Downey Jr and giving him a run for his money.

Q: It’s interesting to see Dave Bautista linked with the project, because he’s not traditionally thought of as an actor.

JG: We haven’t really come out with our cast, people have gotten hold of some things, but I will say one thing: Dave Bautista is one of the most naturally gifted actors I have ever seen in my life. The guy has access to his emotions in a way that I have seen very few people able to do, and if he did get the role of Drax – I’ll tell you, nobody else was ever offered that role, at all; anything you heard about that is bullshit, and if he did get the role, it’s 100% because of his ability to access his emotions, more so than anything else. And it just so happens that the guy was created in the cast of Drax when he was born, he looks just like Drax.

HUG: As you’ve been talking about things you’ve repeatedly mentioned sharing the screen with Robert Downey Jr., does that mean you intend him to be involved with it?

JG: No. That just means that all our movies are connected, we’re created in a way that we’re very connected to the movies that came before us, we’re even more connected to The Avengers 2, that comes after us, and so in that respect, what we would hope is that these characters would continue, and that at some point in time they’ll all meet up with different characters throughout the galaxy.