Kurt Russell on Being Cast as Ego, Family Life, and Fatherhood
I still can’t believe that last year I was on the set of Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2. Our small group was on a secret mission to get all the juicy details about the upcoming film to share with our readers. With only one day to get as many details as possible. Our schedule was jam-packed but half way through the day an unexpected request came in and it was from Kurt Russell. He’d heard that “mommy bloggers” were on set interviewing the talent. He wasn’t on our schedule but he wanted to get the opportunity to talk to us as well. Of course, we didn’t say no, we grabbed our bags and headed to his sound stage for a brief impromptu interview.
When we initially spoke with Kurt, we had no idea who his character really was in the film, except that he was playing Peter Quill’s father. We saw some storyboards about the character but it was hard to really visualize how he would appear in the Guardians film. The first thing we asked was for him to tell us about his role.
KR : Yeah, it’s just I’m his father and he’s a man of adventure and it’s a very full role. You have to play a lot of different types of scenes where we are emotionally very different. We get to explore I think a lot of Peter Quill’s past. You’ll learn a lot about where he comes from and why he is what he is and, he’s coming from a position of having wondered about who his father was all his whole life and it’s me.
Kurt’s arrival at into the Marvel Cinematic Universe wasn’t planned at all. While doing press for the Hateful Eight, he got some sage advice from Nic Fury himself, Samuel Jackson, about being in Marvel films and why he should absolutely take advantage of any opportunity to join the MCU.
KR : I was doing a publicity trip for Hateful Eight and suddenly one day all the reporters and whoever else I ran into everybody was saying so are you gonna do Guardians of the Galaxy? I’d never heard of Guardians of the Galaxy. Are you gonna be Peter Quill’s father? And I asked Sam who’s done Fury, he said oh, that’s a little different stuff. He said this is big audiences. I said is it fun?
He said oh, yeah, it’s fun and I started learning about it, I never had been asked about a character before I’d done it as much. I suddenly realized that this movie must have been very popular and for some reason the audience cared about who his father was gonna be. So I said well, gee I don’t know I’ll see what it’s like. I read the script and because I hadn’t been send a script or anything. I didn’t know anything about it. So I said well I’ll read it so I read the script and I said well I need to see the movie. I watched it for about eight or nine minutes.
I was watching it with Goldie and I just immediately — as soon as he kicked one of those things I said, you know, I watched the movie and I got the jest of the feeling of what the Guardians of the Galaxy world is like. I’ve done a lot of movies in the past, connect some dots there. I get very much why I’d be a good person to play the dad with the script that I had. I figured this is gonna be fun to do and it’s turned out to be a blast, really fun. Chris is great and the whole cast is great and James is great. And it’s really fun to always work with someone who really knows what they wanna do and what they wanna show and pull off and try to create.
We had been asking everyone we talked to on set about the music from the film. They were all mums the word on any of the new music from the mixtape. We wanted to know how music connected Kurt’s character in the movie in relation to Peter’s mother.
KR : It will be quiet important.
Q : Is there anything else you can give us on that?
KR : A lot more. You gonna get to the movie. There’s a strong connection to music, particular songs. It’s a big part of this world and James continues that theme very, very strongly.
He didn’t give us much at all, but I honestly believe the mixtape for this film is just as anticipated at the actual movie itself. As you can imagine a lot of this movie is done against a blue screen. We asked Kurt how was it filming against the screen.
KR : You know, it’s funny. I was doing Disney gags. We call them wire gags and this is where we were. We have been the last few days. You can see some of the wires that are left. Wire gags have always been the same ever since probably the 30s and 40s but the technology around the wire gag itself has improved so much and the wires have improved.
They’re on computers now sometimes so you work out what you’re gonna do and they dial it in. You got much better precision but the technology of what they can do around you, that’s improved greatly ‘cause it used to be that you get a line around you and if you moved too much you’d get some rippling effect. It wasn’t very good. But I started doing those in the 60s, early 60s with Disney and they haven’t changed really that much but having said that we’re getting further and further into this world where it’s this and this will look obviously completely different right.
And it’s difficult too, I’ve always been an actor like many actors who respond to their surroundings and if you and I are playing the scene together and I see you have this and I’m talking to you and I see that and I wanna play with that. The spontaneity is different. On a movie like this is really understanding. When we did Tombstone there was a scene where I was walking with Dana Delany. The wind was blowing that day a little bit and so it was blowing some of the cotton woods around, and one was gonna blow on her face so I just picked it like that and it was just part of the scene and it was very organic. It was very good. That won’t happen. So you have to invent that. That’s kind of fun to do.
Making a movie on green screen is very interesting. We wanted to know if any of the actors get an opportunity to see what they are working on before the final editing of the film.
KR : They also have this thing now. It’s called the pre-vis. It’s very valuable. It’s a cheap version of what you’re gonna get that you can look at. Yeah you can see and that can kick your imagination off too however, you’re kind of locked in to what it is so there’s pros and cons here. It can be cool because it makes you feel like you really know how to improve it. Sometimes it would have been nice to have been there from the beginning because I can really improve it. I can do this. Wouldn’t that be great? Well, that’s a little different. We can’t go there. I can’t do that so okay, so it confides you in some ways but in other ways it, it allows you to kind of see it.
One of the last things we asked Kurt was what did he hope audiences gain from watching the movie. From what we’d learn it has a huge family theme so we had to get his perspective.
KR : Well, good question actually because number one when you’re planning a character I think you try to find things that’ll be entertaining and do the them in a way that’s entertaining, that’s fun to watch and yet in movies like this it’s easy to sort of be frivolous and just look at it as comic book venue and I think comic books, especially science fiction, allow you to ask the big questions.
And within the confides of this story, what if you were Peter Quill and this happened to you, this marvel comic book world that Guardians of the Galaxy is and you never knew who your father was, but like real life you have created in your mind someone who put on a pedestal which I think is a very important thing to talk about when you talk about children who don’t know who their parents are. Their father has left or their father never existed or their father was never in their life or maybe he was there for a short while and he left. Are you responsible for that? All those very real human things.
So when you say what do you get out of that, hope to bring for the audience, I do hope to have all the entertainment value that you should get in movie like this but underneath is the reality of when you’re playing it is the reality aspect of the relationship that is important to that person that’s real, that has consequence, that’s not comic book, that’s not cartoon. It’s not funny even though some of it is gonna end up very funny but that’s life. So that’s, you know, that’s why I think one of the reasons James Gunn wants to get Kurt Russell to play the part because I’m gonna go in there and do that.
You can see Kurt Russell in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 in theaters May 5th, 2017. Plan ahead and purchase your advanced tickets online now from your favorite ticket retailers including Fandango and AMC.