“I’m Mary Poppins, y’all!”
You’ll just have to see Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 to understand why that line is so hilarious. Michael Rooker is way more funny in person than I had imagined. He plays Yondu, the rough and tumble leader of the Ravagers (at least his ship of them) in the film Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2. His character is also the man who raised Peter Quill aka Star-Lord (Chris Pratt). The two play opposite each other both in the previous film and in this one. During the press conference Michael was asked if some of his memorable lines were ad-lib and how he was able to keep a straight face during his scenes. He answered in complete deadpan, “I think it’s not too hard to keep a straight face, especially when you’re having a scene with Chris Pratt. He’s not very funny. You know, he’s adorable and all this stuff, and he does say some interesting things every now and then, but you know, my comedy is more… He’s so high-brow compared to my comedy.” Everyone laughed.
But Chris had nothing but praise for his fellow Guardian. There was one scene in particular that Michael made a deep impression on Chris as he explained to us. “And there’s this look on his face, he never says a word, but you feel his pain. You know that he’s hurting inside, you know that he’s lonely and you know that he’s vulnerable, and then immediately you cut to him walking in, fully clothed with his Ravagers behind him and this sense of power, but because you saw him naked you know what’s going on inside of his mind, and that, that pathos carries the entire arc for Yondu through the whole movie… It’s beautiful, man. It’s so good. And he doesn’t even say a word. So that’s, that’s way better than a guy who’s like, I’m gonna take my shirt off and sniff this, put this one on. Check it out.”
Of course, Chris Pratt DID take his shirt off once again during the film. Asked about how that scene was crafted, Michael Rooker spoke up immediately. “That was my request, wasn’t it?” James Gunn confirmed and kiddingly went on, “That was your request, Rooker… You know, Kevin Feige gave me full creative freedom, except there must be Chris Pratt shirtless in this scene. There’s a beefcake clause.” Later, James went on, “But I will say that you had the great idea of sniffing your armpit. Which is like, we kind of take the Marvel shirtless sexy scene, and right when you think you’re being very sexy, he’s smelling the arm pits of an old shirt to see if it’s okay to wear.”
But it wasn’t all laughs and jokes. At one point, the panel was asked if they ever had a moment like Yondu where you wondered if you really belonged. James Gunn, the director, gave this heartfelt answer. “I feel like that always. I never feel like I belong. I feel like Rocket, you know. So I think that for me it’s a very personal film. I have always felt like I didn’t belong. And fortunately I have some people around me who maybe helped me feel like I’m not completely alone in the world, and just as importantly, I think I grew up with some art, some movies, you know, by people from David Cronenberg to Steven Spielberg, movies where an outcast didn’t feel so alone or music by Alice Cooper, The Clash, for outcasts. Or maybe I was this little kid in Manchester, Missouri who felt like he was completely alienated from all his peers, and by listening and hearing music and watching movies, I felt a little bit less alone, and I hope that that’s what the Guardians does for people. It’s a movie about outcasts for outcasts. And there’s people all over the world that it touches, and that’s the most rewarding thing by far about making these movies.”
That’s the kind of heart that James Gunn puts into this film. It really is a movie about finding family, about finding those you can create a bond with and find your place. And if Guardians, Vol. 2 is any indication, James Gunn has certainly found his place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
- Make sure to read our full review of Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 on the Disney Nerds blog tomorrow and then go see the film the same day (May 5th).