Guardians Of The Galaxy : Vol 3 – James Gunn and the cast say goodbye

When the Guardians of the Galaxy first appeared on screen in 2014, they became instant fan favourites in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Since then, they have appeared in the subsequent sequel and Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Their time as a group has ended as Peter Quill and the gang say goodbye in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3.

We joined the global press conference to hear more about Volume 3 from the film’s director, James Gunn, the MCU’s head honcho Kevin Feige and cast members Chris Pratt, Karen Gillian, Pom Klementieff, and Sean Gunn. They were also joined by newcomers Chukwudi Iwuji, Maria Bakalova, and Will Poulter.

The press conference was hosted by long-time James Gunn collaborator Nathan Fillion, who brought a lot of humour to the event.

The film’s director, James Gunn, said when he first approached the franchise twelve years ago, he hoped it would succeed because it was different from other superhero films.

“I felt really good about it from the beginning. I felt like we were doing something different, that the world needed a space fantasy that was different from the ones we had seen before. I was pleasantly surprised when my greatest hopes came true and that it has turned out so well.”

Gunn says the cast has become family, which was down to fortune casting.

“This is a family of people. I’ve been really good at not hiring jerks but hiring people who are positive, compassionate, loving, and kind people. I’ve grown incredibly close to these people. I really love them, and it makes making movies a much more pleasant experience. My main memories are not going to the premieres or doing these press junkets, being on set and having the little moments with the cast.”

While Gunn says he will miss the actors, saying goodbye to the characters has been the hardest part of this final film.

“I’m going to miss the characters. That’s the saddest part for me; I truly love these characters. There are certain ones that I have a special fondness for, especially Rocket and the saddest part of all of this. I’m going to see all these people again, they’re all friends of mine, but I’m not going to see the characters; I will not be writing the characters again, at least not in the near future, s that’s a real sadness.”

Chris Pratt, who plays the Guardian’s leader, Peter Quill, says that his character has gone on a challenging journey through the franchise, and the Peter we see in Volume 3 is very different from the Peter we first met.

“In the beginning, he was running away from the death of his mother, but he pretended to be this character based on pop culture icons of his childhood of the late 80s. He was dancing around and doing all that stuff we sat on, but it was kind of BS. Then he found himself with the Guardians of the Galaxy, and he thought he could find himself through his relationship with them and then with his father. He is constantly searching for who he is. He finally found it with his relationship with Gamora, so when that’s stripped away from him, he is lost.”

Pratt says he would love to work with Gunn again in the MCU or another film.

“Making movies is really fun. It is even more fun when you get to do it with people you love. That’s the journey. The destination sometimes sucks; you may have a great time [on set], work hard, and then see the movie and realise it sucks. With James, both the journey and the destination have been glorious. The films are incredible. I don’t know how he does it. I’d be willing to deal with a terrible journey to get to this destination, but it happens to be an incredible journey as well. It’s not just James; I’d work with any of these folks again.”

Karen Gillan, who plays Nebula, says she enjoys how much Nebula has changed since she first appeared with the Guardians.

“Post Thanos being eliminated from her life, she is starting to flourish a little bit more. She’s starting to have a lighter personality and is a little more willing to show vulnerability. Nebula was always so jealous of Gamora, and then she evolved, and Gomora helped her gain some compassion along the way. It’s really interesting to play around with the change, and watching their relationship evolve has been beautiful.”

According to Kevin Feige, the Guardians represent a very different side of the MCU.

“We’ve had trilogies before, but The Guardians was the first movie completely outside the realm. We weren’t setting up Tony Stark’s next adventure or Captain America. It was our attempt at saying we don’t want just to do superhero movies, and it worked entirely because of James Gunn. It represents something unique within the pantheon of the MCU that I’m very proud of.”

Mantis is the group’s gentlest member and, as an empath, she cares deeply about other beings. Pom Klementieff says she adores the character and feels connected to her.

“It’s beautiful to play Mantis and tap into deep, profound and layered emotions, you know? I got to be super weird, which is really fun to do, too. I remember James telling me that Mantis was the glue that kept the Guardians together. The world lacks a lot of empathy, so it’s beautiful to play a character full of empathy.”

The film’s big baddie is the High Evolutionary, a sinister character connected to Rocket Racoon’s past. Chukwudi Iwuji says he was so stunned to be offered the role that he didn’t fully believe it.

“I am a jobbing actor, the closest I’ve come to Marvel is my local IMAX. The first thing when you meet him is him listening to opera, right, so I knew classical music was going to be a big part of this character. Before we started filming, I listened to a lot of my favourite music and started imagining this mad scientist sort of person who doesn’t sleep. So instead of sleeping, he listens to this music as he wanders at night. I built the character up from there.”

Will Poulter is a long-time fan of the MCU and says joining the cast as Adam Warlock was a nerve wracking experience but one he relished.

“I was nervous from the outside looking in because I was a really big fan of the Guardians movies and the MCU Marvel Universe. If you look at something as a fan, you don’t imagine yourself being a part of it. I couldn’t have been made to feel more welcome. Something that I thought was going to be scary became really good fun.”

Music plays a huge part in the Guardians films, and Gunn says he sometimes writes a scene around a particular song; other times, he inserts the song once the scene is complete.

“I keep a list of hundreds of songs I want to use someday. Sometimes it can be difficult to choose; there are so many great songs that could fit; other times, I have a song, and I know it’s the one, so I write around it. For this movie, we have a much wider range of music from the 60s right up to the 2000s.”

As the press conference came to a close and the cast reminisced about saying goodbye to their characters, Pratt said it was vital for him to be mentally present on set each and to soak up their last days together.

“I want to avoid regret. I never want to look back and wonder why I let that go by without trying to enjoy every moment. So, I was present. I wanted to be the guy who reminded everyone how far we’ve come and all the things we’ve overcome. I felt a responsibility to check in with everybody, knowing that it was coming to an end.”

Words – Cara O’Doherty

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY : VOL 3 is at Irish cinemas from May 3rd