'Guardians of the Galaxy' director had to be sold on 'chubby' Chris Pratt

Chris Pratt in The Guardians of the Galaxy (Handout)

Chris Pratt in The Guardians of the Galaxy (Handout)

Jim Slotek, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:25 PM ET

It may be another comic-book-turned-movie, but “not again,” is unlikely to be anyone’s reaction to Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.

A talking raccoon, an ambulatory tree, a city that exists inside a giant alien head and a ‘70s soundtrack that actually figures into the plot… these are not part of any standard superhero template.

Nor is the glib hero, Peter Quill – a.k.a. Star-Lord. Chris Pratt, who plays him, couldn’t even get an audition in front of director James Gunn, who knew Pratt only as “the chubby guy from Parks and Recreation.”

“We had big stars coming in, no-names, and nobody blew me away,” Gunn said of the oddball project, at a press conference featuring stars Pratt, Zoe Saldana (Gamora), Vin Diesel (Groot), Benicio del Toro (The Collector), Michael Rooker (Yondu) and Dave Bautista (Drax the Destroyer).

“Sarah Finn, the casting director kept putting his picture in front of me and saying, ‘What about this guy, why don’t you meet with him?’ and I’m like, ‘The chubby guy from Parks and Rec? Don’t be stupid.’

“And she kept doing it. And one day she said, ‘And after this guy Chris Pratt’s here.’ And I was a little mad, I didn’t want to see him. And Chris came in and started to read. And I was like ‘Holy s---, that’s the guy.’

“And I turned around to Sarah and I said ‘That’s the guy. The world’s going to have to be ready for the first chubby superhero.’”

The last part wasn’t to be, as the sitcom actor undertook to get buff for the first time in his life. “I’m sure I can’t relate to what females go through in Hollywood,” he says. “But I do know what it feels like to eat emotionally and to be sad and make yourself happy with food, and then be almost immediately again sad and now ashamed, and to try to hide those feelings with more food,” he says dryly to scattered laughter.

“And I offer a course…” he adds, amping the laughs.

Pratt admits he was, “having a sort of identity crisis as an actor,” at the time of his GotG audition. “I didn’t know what I was, if I was an action guy or a comedy guy. Maybe a combination of both. But what’s like that? My manager just kept saying, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy, man.’”

Gunn, too, admits, “I would have had a hard time fitting into the regular Marvel scheme of things. This gave me a chance to take what I love about Marvel movies and Marvel comics and create a whole new universe – which is really exciting for me.”

In fact, the only person who seemed to have been playing within her wheelhouse in Guardians Of The Galaxy was Saldana, whose Gamora is a space assassin who grudgingly adopts Star-Lord, Rocket Raccoon, Groot and Drax as her new family. She’s been otherworldly in Avatar and two Star Trek movies before this.

At this point, Saldana knows her way around a stunt crew, and stood her ground as she came up with a personalized fighting style based on bullfight footage she’d seen.

“When you’re the last person cast, the stunt coordinators have already designed the fights. It was hard telling the stunt people (about the change-up in fighting style) because they’re so hard and they think girls are stupid. So when you walk in to this testosterone- driven rehearsal, and you’re like, ‘Well she does fencing, and she’s a bullfighter,’ and they’re kind of like ‘Quoi’?’

“But they realized they didn’t have a choice and they adapted it.”

Twitter: @jimslotek

jim.slotek@sunmedia.ca

 


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