When I first interviewed Kurt Russell on the set of Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, I couldn’t believe I was talking with a movie legend. Because that is what he is, a legend. Then when I discovered I would have the chance to do it again, I was blown away. Let me start off by telling you what a gentleman he is. The interview was set up with a table in the front and 5 rows of 5 chairs. Kurt insisted on standing instead of sitting so that he could see all of us while we talked. I mean, who does that? What a great guy.
Getting the Role
I explained how Kurt got his role as Ego in my previous interview article, but since we touched on it again in this second interview, I will give you the short version. When he was doing press for The Hateful Eight (side note: Great film! See it if you haven’t), his phone started going crazy with calls and messages. They were all asking him if he planned to play Peter Quill’s father. Turns out, he had no idea who that was or what Guardians of the Galaxy was.
“I literally had no idea what they were talking about because I hadn’t seen the movie. [So] I just said, no. It was like, wow, whatever this is they’re excited about it. The next day I got the official word and I said well guys, I need to read it and I need to see the movie. When I saw the movie, right away I fell in love with it – and it just got better and better. But more than anything else, I was watching Chris and saying, yeah, I get that energy. I get that style.”
Not Being Pigeonholed
Kurt has certainly done his fair share of movies and has his fair share of fans. We asked him what it felt like to join the MCU and he let us know that he always is up for doing something new.
“I’ve never done a Marvel movie. I’ve done lots of Disney movies. The fact that they came together, I think kinda says they understand each other. What I’ve tried to do all my life is, [be] an actor who didn’t wanna do the same thing. For some reason, that just repulsed me. It made me not wanna do it. In Hollywood, if you have something that’s successful, the next thirty scripts you read are gonna be in that zone. So I disappointed a lot of people by saying, I get it. I get why you want me to do it. But, if you’ll notice, I just did that. I don’t wanna do that now. I passed that math test, I want to go on to this English test now. In doing that you create a confusion, and a whiplash sort of career where they can’t pigeonhole you – but they’re not necessarily happy about that. Even critics and reviewers are not necessarily happy about that. We have a tendency, human beings, to if you see something and like it, then you want to see more of it. So my job was to skip around genres. Skip around characters.”
It’s All In The Name
We asked Kurt how much he was like his character, Ego the Living Planet. His initial response was “I got a healthy ego.“, which made us all chuckle.
“I love the names of characters. You can go back through my litany of characters and you’re gonna find at least twelve great names. I think that’s important. If they don’t have a great name, I give ‘em a great name. I was very disappointed with when I read the [Ego]’s name was J’son. That’s a weak-ass name. And then later, I find out that actually his name is Ego the Living Planet. And I went that’s more like it.”
Making Kurt Younger
At some point in the movie, we see Kurt looking really young. We asked how much CGI was done for that and Kurt gave huge props to his makeup guy Dennis Liddiard.
“He’s been my makeup man for twenty-eight years. We’ve done a lot of movies together where our goal was to, without the audience knowing it, help me arrive at what I need to do to set the tone for the character, the look for the character, the feel for the character. We’ve achieved it many times, very subtly. On this one, I’m really proud to point him out, because we assumed, all of us, that for that we were just gonna do heavy CGI special effects like they normally do. And Dennis said to James Gunn and the cinematographer, I know his face really, really well. I can really do a lot here to bring him down. If I de-age him some, does that help you? And they said as much as you can help. Yes.”
“When he was done, and when I got the right hair going, and when he got the wardrobe going, and then the actor has the opportunity to see that, and begin to feel that, in the case of yourself, say yeah that’s a younger me. It’s time for me to go to work and slip into all of that and take advantage of all of that, and go be younger. You lighten your voice, you move a little quicker, you go to work with that. Everybody has said, this is amazing, this really looks real. It’s because there’s not much CGI here.”
OK guys, up until this point I kept the interview spoiler free. The thing is we discussed some awesome “spoilery” things with Kurt and I have to share them. So if you have not seen the movie yet, close the browser now and come back when you have.
“Because I was gonna do the movie, I was concerned that the audience would go in thinking ‘We’re so happy that he’s gonna have adventures with his dad, and it’s Kurt Russell and he’s working…and I hate this movie.’ And Kurt Russell’s responsible for killing this for me. And I said, I just wanna make sure we hit the right notes here, James [Gunn]. I said, it has to have the right amount of comedy. We started talking about it and I felt very comfortable with James. I thought his hand was really solidly on it. He really knew what he was doing.”
“So how much of myself is there? I don’t know. Listen, if you’re gonna play God let’s go big. I think this movie has a lot to say about that. Literally, when you first meet him, the first thing out of his mouth is, my name is Ego. He’s very proud of that and you gotta understand that he’s made everything in his life. And so he’s chosen to be that. He chose to come to earth and look like Kurt Russell. That’s a choice. And the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree. If he doesn’t know who his father is he’s gonna create this guy who’s like David Hasselhoff.”
Working with Chris
We knew from talking with Chris that he was thrilled to be working with Kurt Russell (and possibly even had a hand in him being cast). We wanted to know how Kurt felt about working with Chris.
“Working with Chris, primarily, that was just right. As soon as Chris and I saw each other, we just kinda smiled, gave each other a hug and said this is clearly right.” We asked if the film turned out how he wanted it to, and he said it did, except for one thing, he wanted about 15 more minutes of Peter and Ego playing catch. We all let out a collective “awwwwww” and then he smiled and added, “However, your reaction is proof that you shouldn’t do that. Because if you go too far with that relationship, there’s gonna be something very wrong with this. It is a son, killing his father. So you gotta be very careful with that. When you watch the movie that doesn’t look like a problem. It’s perfect.”
Parenting Peter Quill
To say that Ego and Peter’s relationship is strained toward the end is an understatement. Ego wants Peter to give up everything else and help him take over the universe. Kurt let us know the mindset he got in to get to that place.
“You have to go all the way from being kinda cool and loving and fun to just, you know, who fuck do you think you are? I think we’ve all said that to our kids. Who the hell do you think you are? I could hear myself. I was literally [thinking] you go to your room! It was all in that zone and it kinda had to have some of that tone to it. So you could sort of enjoy as a parent – some of that reprimand. You tell somebody live a thousand years as a battery, he means it, you know.”
Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 is in theaters now!
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