GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 Makes Kurt Russell the Embodiment of Daddy Issues

Despite being a member of a superhero team, namely the  Guardians of the Galaxy, Peter Quill, a.k.a. Star-Lord, is a complete and utter A-hole. Like most A-holes, he is the way he is due to some seriously deep-seated daddy issues. And in Star-Lord’s case, you might just be able to understand why. His father wasn’t around when he was growing up–and that is partly because his father wasn’t born on Earth; rather, he is a living planet that took a page out of Zeus’ playbook by transforming himself into a human, making it with an Earth woman, and siring a son with a passion for the music of Blue Swede. That old story.

Now, in  Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2, we’re finally going to get to meet Star-Lord’s old man.  Kurt Russell plays the role of Star-Lord’s father, who just so happens to be a gigantic sentient planet named Ego the Living Planet. While I can’t speak to Russell’s gravitational field, I can confirm that he is the perfect person to player the man that fathered Peter Quill. That fact was cemented when Nerdist, alongside several other outlets, interviewed the veteran actor when we visited the film’s Atlanta set last year.As we’ve gathered from previous set visit report, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 is a film focused on family: the Guardians as a makeshift family, the swapped dynamic between Rocket and Groot, the fraught sisterly relationship of Gamora and Nebula, and, of course, Peter Quill’s reunion with his long-lost father. The identity of Peter Quill’s father was a subject of hot debate during our set visit. When we asked Russell what he could tell us about his character, he replied with a laugh and said, “Not much.” This was before it was explicitly announced that Russell would be playing Ego the Living Planet, back when the production staff was particularly cagey about the character’s identity. Case in point, they even had the name of another prominent Marvel Cosmic Universe character written on Russell’s folding chair: J’son, a reference to J’Son of Spartax, Star-Lord’s canonical father from the comics. Whether or not they’ll wind up folding J’son’s lore into Ego’s remains to be seen, but we can definitely expect some major emotional baggage to be unpacked.

“He has a great, adventurous spirit that he shares with his son,” Russell said of his character. “I think when it comes to parents that are missing, we have a tendency to put them on a pedestal. And Peter is living in that world. But to finally have the opportunity to meet that person, and then begin to compare who they had in mind and what they’re really getting is a lot of what we’re doing.”

In particular, Russell relished the opportunity to play such a dynamic, well-rounded character and work with a director like Gunn, who is very precise in his storytelling. “[Ego] is 360 degrees of a human being,” Russell explained. “We all are capable of many different emotions and behaviors and thoughts and abilities and the way we sometimes respond to something is just very, it could be very, very different. You can one day feel this way, and the next day, feel that way. The fun part is that you have a director who really knows what he wants in terms of the storytelling and he’s obviously not afraid to play around.”

While Russell wasn’t intimately acquainted with the Marvel Cinematic Universe before joining the project, he is no stranger to sci-fi. “I was in a movie that was really kind of reinventing all the sci-fi stuff, Stargate,” Russell reminded us. “That was a long, long space, when there was no sci-fi out there as a movie, and Stargate was a real surprise to the audience. It was really something that was real science fiction-y.”

Something that surprised Russell was the intensity and scrutiny surrounding the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a world with which he wasn’t intimately acquainted. He hadn’t seen the first Guardians when he was first being asked to take on the role of Ego, in fact.

“Well, the thing is, when I saw the first movie, I watched it and I sat down with Goldie and I said, “Hey honey, I’ve got to watch this movie to see what this is they’re talking about,” Russell told us. “And I said, ‘You know, a lot of people are calling me saying, ‘Are you going to play this guy?’ They’re all excited about it.’ And she said, ‘Yeah, what’s that about?’ And I said, ‘I haven’t any idea. I don’t know.’ And so, she said, ‘Well, did you read the script yet?’ I said, ‘I don’t really want to read it until I see this movie. And so, I want to see this first.’  I think maybe I ended up reading the script first and then saw the movie. But so, I sat down with Goldie, and yeah, I did read it first. And I thought, ‘Well, if I read this correctly, just the music choices alone tell me something, that he writes.’ And so, we sat down, and within about three minutes of watching Chris, as soon as he kicked one of those lemmings, I went, ‘Okay. That’s cool. That’s my kinda guy. I know where that kind of goof comes from.’”

Thankfully, he quickly felt at home thanks to co-stars like Chris Pratt. “We were rehearsing one time and [Chris] said, ‘No, I want you as my dad. I want you to be my father,'” Russell told us. “You know, it’s fun. They’re all very welcoming and very sweet.”

We also felt at home when we got to explore one of the massive sets, one of which just so happened to be Ego’s spaceship, which was featured briefly in a recent trailer. With most modern blockbuster filmmaking taking place in giant warehouses against massive green screens, it was refreshing to see such a sprawling physical set. Naturally, we had to ask Russell if this affected his performance process.

“It’s definitely more fun when you’re able to be there than in a room filled with a blue or a green screen, with orange dots on it,” Russell explained to us. “Back when we did The Thing, we had a lot of puppets on that. So there was a lot of live action stuff that you could rely on and you could see. But a lot of it was gobos with X’s, you know? I used to say to John, ‘So this is when he’s like, really looking bad?’ ‘Yeah, he’s really looking bad. Give me that again. Ah, he’s got big teeth and he’s got’—he’s, okay, he’s really bad, okay. And where is he? He’s about there. That’s about his mouth. There’s about his mouth and his eyes are up there. Okay. So you’re dealing with a lot of unknowns in that regard, but when you see some of the drawings here, it’s very helpful. And you know where you are. You know where you are in the room.”

And soon, we’ll all be in the room with Ego the Living Planet and the rest of the Guardians of the Galaxy when James Gunn’s hotly anticipated sequel lands in theaters in a mere matter of weeks.

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Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2 opens on May 5, 2017.

What are you most excited to see in Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2? Let us know in the comments below.

Image: Disney/Marvel

Dan Casey is the senior editor of Nerdist and the author of books about Star Wars and the Avengers. Follow him on Twitter ( @Osteoferocious).

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