Gaming editor Roshni Patel interviews Sean Gunn, who plays Kraglin and Rocket in Guardians of the Galaxy
Last semester saw big names from the MCU gather in Birmingham for MCM Comic Con Birmingham at the NEC. In a pair of interviews, Redbrick had the opportunity interview both Sean Gunn and Michael Rooker from the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. In the first of 2 interviews, we spoke to Sean Gunn about his time on the MCU set and the recent Gilmore Girls revival.
What was it like working with the larger MCU gang, in comparison to the GOTG gang?
Well both of those experiences were great individually, we really built a family on the Guardians movies, and I love that cast so much and it was great to see all the old people. But then to go on and work with a bunch of new people on the Infinity War movies, I have so much respect for everyone I worked with, and also for the people who put these casts together. Hollywood’s kind of a strange place, and I got to say I have really enjoyed meeting all of the people I’ve been able to meet and learn from.
How has working with the Russo brothers been, in comparison to working with your brother James Gunn?
I love Joe and Anthony, they’re very different from my brother but all directors are. And I also haven’t known them since I was born, so that makes it a little different. But no, they’re great and I like how they work off one another and they’re pretty unflappable, which is something that they share with my brother, is that they’re very calm set presences, which can be hugely important in films like these.
Is it easier or harder to work with family than other directors?
It’s just different. One of the reasons I think my brother and I work so well together is because we’ve worked together since we were kids in different capacities, so our short hand for communicating with one another is very clean and easy. But also, I think we’re both perfectionists within our own jobs and he’s very much a good and clear director and I take my job as an actor very seriously. So, I think if we were just meeting for the first time, I think he and I would both still work together really, really well, because he’s really good at talking to actors and I would like to think that I’m good at listening to directors. The advantage is that anytime I need to figure out how to work with somebody to have a creative relationship, that part of the job is already done (with James), as we already have a creative relationship. I love working with my brother and I hope we continue to work together here and there for the rest of our careers. I don’t need to everything he’s in. We can go off and do our separate things, but I’ll always say yes, obviously.
How free are you to improvise on set, and how much of this is reflected in the final film?
We don’t improv that much, I would say that most of the dialog is performed as written in the script. Things that are improvised are more likely to be buttons at the end of scenes, a joke line for the scene to go out on, where you have a little more room to play. But the bulk of the improvising is done by my brother behind the camera. I know he has his script that he works with, which we’ve seen, but he also has his alternate lines script which he has for every day, which are things that he’s feeding us as we’re acting, so he’ll say, “Do it again with this line… now with this line”. But just like everything, even though they feel like ad-libs to us because we haven’t heard them, he’s super prepared and usually has a list of them ready to go, and not a whole lot is thought up right there on the spot, a few lines here and there, but most of them are scripted.
What is it like in the Rocket the raccoon green screen suit?
Most of the stills you see are from the first movie, when I was wearing the green leotard. But in the subsequent films I just wear a grey tracksuit which is a lot more comfortable and less dorky looking than the leotard, so that’s a little better. But yes, I am four movies into doing rocket on set, and sometimes I forget that when actors show up for the first time who have never actually seen me do it, they get a little freaked out. ‘Woah, that guy’s really getting down, walking in a crouch position.”
How does it feel switching back and forth between Rocket and Kraglin on set?
The scenes where I have to play both characters, and there a few them, particularly in the second movie, there’s about four scenes where both characters have dialog, are definitely the trickiest thing I’ve had to do in my career. I really have to tackle the scene from both angles, and then when we’re on set maintain my focus. I think a large percentage of any good acting is preparation and focus, and on those days when I’m doing both I have to be doubly prepared and as focused as I can be and try and do the scene from both points of view. But also, it’s always a little bit easier knowing that if I screw up as Rocket, they can fix it.
Which character in Infinity War has the best reaction to a talking raccoon?
Oh Gosh, I think you’ll have to be the judge of that, although it was certainly fun to see many of these new characters through the eyes of rocket, because rocket does not have the same sort of reverence for the superheroes that earthlings are going to have.
After previously working with Michael Rooker in Super, another one of James Gunn’s films, was it interesting to star along side him again as Yondu and Kraglin?
Oh god, I just want to do one movie without Rooker! No, I love Rooker, he’s like a crazy uncle. And we were friends even before we did Super, and we’ve now done four movies together.
It was really exciting to see Kraglin progress between films, is that something that you’re excited about with the third film, has James told you anything?
We’ve talked about it a little bit and he gives me some hints here and there about what the plot will be like for the third move. I haven’t seen any words or script, but he’ll sort of sit me down and say, “it’s kind of going in this direction”, and he’s such a diligent planner that usually the way he says things work out, they’re usually pretty close to going in that direction. I never get my hopes up though, its Hollywood, and you’re really not in the movie until the movie’s finished, which is a long way from now, and I care more about the story than the character, I just want the movie to be great, but anything they ask me to do, I’ll be ready to do.
How’s the whistling going?
*laughs* Gosh, I hope it’s coming along well, we need Kraglin to learn how to use that whistle don’t we? I mean if to have any kind of an imprint on the third movie, I guess he better learn.
Does James ever let you pick any songs on the soundtrack?
James doesn’t let anyone choose songs on the soundtrack. I think it’s funny because he chooses a lot of songs that I’ve loved my whole life as well as him, as my brothers and I are really into music, and I’m never surprised by his selections. He’s never used a song that I don’t know, but I also think he takes a lot of pride in being able to say that he personally handpicks all the songs with no help from anyone, so I’ll let him have that.
But what would you suggest if you could?
Its seems to be set up that the soundtrack might come from Yondu’s Zune in the third movie, which is a guess, so it’d be interesting to hear what Yondu listens to. I would love to hear something like Jukebox Hero (The Foreigner), though now that I’ve said that it won’t be in the movie.
Who would be your dream celebrity cameo?
Oh my gosh, I mean I already worked with the Hoff on the ‘Guardians’ Inferno video, I don’t know how it gets better than that. But I have to say with everybody I’ve work with now, not just Guardians but Infinity War too, my cup runneth over with big famous iconic actors, so I’m happy with anybody, truly.
Do you know when Nathan Fillion might turn up in Guardians?
I don’t know, but I’m always happy to see him. *grins*
Was going back to do the Gilmore Girls revival series weird to do after doing GOTG for so long?
I was doing double duty, or triple duty if you consider both roles in Guardians (referring to his role as onset green screen rocket), also doing Gilmore Girls at the same time. We were shooting Guardians of the Galaxy 2 simultaneously, so I was flying back and forth between Georgia and California to do those roles. But the good thing about doing Gilmore girls again, was that it was like putting on a comfortable old pair of old slippers, it didn’t take long to get back into that character, Kirk is very, very familiar role to me, and when the writing is as good as it is, it makes it that much easier
You have a fan base coming from Gilmore Girls, how does it compare to the one from the MCU?
People talk a lot about the fanboys and fangirls from the MCU and how rabid they are, but I assure you that Gilmore Girls fans give them a run for your money, every step of the way, in their fervour for what they love. I’m very grateful to be part of both those franchises, and I think it starts with great writing and great stories, and I have been lucky to be part of those.