We've finally reached the highly anticipated release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (now in theatres), but we'd like to dub this Friday "Sean Gunn Day."
Not only does the actor have the release of this film, but Friday also marks the ex-Gilmore Girls star's return to working with that show's creator and producer/writer Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino in the latest episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
While the worlds of Maisel and Gilmore Girls seem like a far cry from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Gunn says that his brother, James Gunn, and the Palladinos are actually quite similar in the way they work. He added that he would say yes to a project with any of these individuals at the helm, without even seeing a script.
— Yahoo Canada News (@YahooCanadaNews) May 5, 2023
"I would say that my brother's style as a writer and creator is more similar to the Palladinos than it is different," Gunn told Yahoo Canada during an interview in Toronto. "Of all the people I've worked with, James and Amy are more similar than probably a lot of other people because they're so exact as creators. They know exactly what they want and their writing is so precise, the rhythm is so precise."
"The same is true for for Dan. ... Another great writer. I always love doing the things that they write together. They get it and and that's just the greatest thing about being able to work with those guys."
'I knew how important Rocket's part of the story was'
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is easily the best film of the trilogy, with much of the story focused on learning more about Rocket, after he finds himself in a dangerous situation and the Guardians have to come together to save his life.
"The whole idea of the Guardians is that they are this found family and you're bound to find some tricky pasts when you dig into everyone's history," Gunn said. "We've seen Rocket in all these previous movies where he has such a chip on his shoulder, and as much as we love him, and as funny as he is, he's an angry guy."
"That doesn't come from nowhere. So going into his past and finding that comes from somewhere real. It packs a punch."
While the Rocket character has been voiced by Bradley Cooper, Gunn is actually the on-set Rocket, which gives his fellow actors a human to work off of while creating the film. Gunn stressed that Rocket takes "an entire team of people to create."
"There's the writing part of the process, I do my part, the visual effects team does so much and then Bradley does the heavy lifting," Gunn said. "But I've been doing this for six movies now, in my piece of the puzzle, and it's really nice."
"I've always known that my brother James saw himself in Rocket more than any other character in the movies, and I knew how important Rocket's part of the story was. ... I've been really happy to kind of do my part. There's an element of giving when you're an actor. Ideally, when you're doing it right, you're trying to understand other people and then you're giving that of yourself, and I do that with Rocket as much as I can."
'There's nothing I love more than a good villain'
In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, the Guardians have to face one of, if not the, cruelest villains in the MCU, The High Evolutionary played by the incomparable Chukwudi Iwuji.
"There's nothing I love more than a good villain,” Iwuji told Yahoo Canada. “When I think of some of my favourite actors like Gary Oldman and Alan Rickman and Peter O'Toole, and sometimes Denzel [Washington] when they let him be a villain, those are the roles that I’m drawn to.”
“There was never a part of me that liked The High Evolutionary, but I certainly loved playing him.”
— Yahoo Canada News (@YahooCanadaNews) May 5, 2023
The High Evolutionary has a brilliant grandiose element, a character who's listening to space opera and speaks with a lot of exposition. He's a frightening being but someone you also feel you could listen to him speak for hours.
Iwuji was also able to tap into his Shakespeare acting experience for this role.
“I tapped into my background with Shakespeare, I really thought a lot about Henry IV," Iwuji explained. "That gave me an idea of, OK this guy doesn't sleep, ... so he's uber aware of himself during the day."
"Then, of course, it was the thing of putting on the costume. … It's purple. It's regal. It's dangerous, essential, it's arrogant. All those things came together.”
'He brings his heart into the work'
One thing that both Iwuji and Gunn are very much aligned on is the brilliance of writer-director James Gunn in crafting these Guardians movies.
“He’s one of the most prepared people I've ever met,” Iwuji said. “He does all this storyboarding. He brings his heart into the work."
“What I love about him as a collaborator is that as prepared as he is, as structured as he is, as ready as he is, there's always a moment in filming where he then goes, ‘OK we've got it, now do whatever you want.’ He's genuinely watching what you do there, because he understands there's a chance that you, as this X factor that isn't him, that has come and met this material, might give him an idea he didn't think about, ... and that's the scene you end up with.”
Sean Gunn added that the Guardians movies, in the way his brother crafted them, exemplify where there has to be a great mix of comedy with the darker, more dramatic elements of a story.
"The whole idea of the Guardians is they are a found family, that they found one another because they didn't have families of their own," he explained. "If you're going to dig into character stories who don't have families, you're going find some darkness and some drama."
"We can't just have all the joyful stuff. In order to get to joy, we have to go through some work."
Guardians movies and the characters have always stood out from the pack of Marvel movies and Marvel heroes, and much of that can be attributed to this group of misfits, who all at one point or another have felt like they were outcasts.
"My favourite thing about the movies, people come up to me and they're like, 'Hey I felt like that. I've been an outsider. I've had to find my own family outside of whatever experiences that I've had,'" Gunn said. "That's what people connect to and it's really important."
“The role of the hero in culture, not just American culture but worldwide culture, is so huge,” Iwuji added in a separate interview. “To be told that actually, the misfit and the outsider, and trodden upon and the surprising, could be a hero, is something that we all want to hear, we all need to hear.”
“Guardians is slightly more domestic, … these guys care for each other, they'll do anything for each other. … I think in our lives, we want to believe that we'd be there for a best friend or a family member or a dog. … Guardians embodies that, it embodies camaraderie and in its purest form. That's why it's both always exciting and very moving, because I think we slightly see ourselves there, more than in the other movies.”