Kurt Russell walks into the room and of course every single one of us is applauding. After all, he is Kurt Russell…a Hollywood legend.
Needless to say, Kurt was a joy to speak with.
Here’s what Kurt Russell had to say about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, his acting career and having an ego. *He actually stood during the entire interview so that he could see all of us
How did you get involved with Guardians of the Galaxy?
“I was doing this publicity stunt for Tarantino’s movie, The Hateful Eight, and one day all of a sudden, you know, boom-boom-boom-boom-boom-boom-boom (grabbing his cell phone) started to go off, which is very rare for me. And I don’t have a lot of telephone action. I don’t, you know, do media stuff on it, so it was literally like…they were all the same thing. Oh wait, this is great, this is exciting, are you gonna do this? And then the people in the interview started to ask me, are you gonna do this Guardians of the Galaxy? Are you gonna play Peter Quill’s father?
I literally had no idea what they were talking about ‘cause I hadn’t seen the movie. And I just said, no. And it was like, wow, whatever this is they’re excited about it. The next day kinda got the official word, and I said well guys, I need to read it and I need to see the movie. When I saw the movie right away I kinda fell in love with it, and it just got better and better. But more than anything else I was kinda watching Chris and saying, yeah, I get that energy. I get that, kinda that style.
I realized from movies that I had done in the past, that I would bring the right baggage here. And as I read the screenplay, it was even more so. I wanted to do it but I also…I was concerned that the audience would go in thinking, oh great, this is just right. We’re so happy that he’s gonna have adventures with his dad, and it’s Kurt Russell, and he’s working…and I hate this movie. (laughter) And Kurt Russell’s responsible for killing this for me. And I said, I just wanna make sure we hit the right notes here, James.
Anyway, started talking about it and I felt very comfortable with James. I thought his hand was solidly on it. He knew what he was doing. And then, of course, working with Chris, primarily, that was just right. As soon as Chris and I saw each other we just kinda smiled, gave each other a hug and said this is clearly right. So that was kind of the early stages and the first processes of it.”
How he chooses what roles and projects to take on
“The trick is, and what I’ve tried to do all my life is, I was just an actor who didn’t wanna do the same thing. I just didn’t for some reason that just repulsed me. It made me not wanna do it. And then in Hollywood a lot of times if you have something that’s successful, the next thirty scripts you read are gonna be in that zone. So I disappointed a lot of people by saying, I get it. I get why you want me to do it. But, if you’ll notice, I just did that. I don’t wanna do that now, I passed that math test and I wanna go on to this English test now.
And in saying that, and in doing that you create confusion, and a whiplash sort of career where they can’t pigeonhole you, but they’re not necessarily happy about that. Even critics and reviewers are not necessarily happy about that. I guess a tendency is, human beings, too, if you see something, like it and then wanna see more of it. That also applies to whole movies where you see a movie you like so let’s do it again. Let’s do Overboard again, or Big Trouble In Little China over. Let’s do Escape From New York again or Tombstone. They’ve only done fifty-six Tombstone, forty-five I think, or forty-six of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday thing. So my job was to skip around genres. Skip around characters. Find stories that I liked, that I wanted to see. Characters that I wanted to play.
And try to challenge me with giving the director as many options as possible with takes so that he could, or she could, put the movie together. When you do that you’re putting a lot of trust in the director. The other way of doing it is you give him one thing, which is not to say you don’t do that. Miracle was a movie where I had to get in character, and then you stay there.
And I think there’s room for both, and I’ve done that. I just skipped around genres. And I really enjoy that.That’s what keeps me going. It keeps me fired up. I’m an inveterate people watcher. I just like to… I’ll do that in this room, you know. (laughter) I’ll see somebody. Oh, that’s a good- that’s a- yeah, that’s a good one.”
How much of himself is in Ego
“I’ve got a healthy ego. (laughter) I do. I think that’s important in our industry and our business and as a human being to have control of your ego. But I think you should have a healthy one. If you don’t have a healthy one, you’re gonna have other problems…”
The names of his characters throughout the years
“…I love names and characters. You can go back through my litany of characters, and you’re gonna find at least twelve great names. I think that’s important. And if they don’t have a great name, I give ‘em a great name. (laughter)
I was very disappointed with when I read this, the character’s name was J’son. And I said, yeah, well fifteen Marvel people will know who this is. That’s a weak-ass name. And then, later on, being to find out that well actually his name is Ego the Living Planet. And I went that’s more like it. (laughter) So how much of myself is there? I don’t know. Listen, if you’re gonna play God let’s go big. (laughter) You know, so I think this movie has a lot to say about that.
I mean it’s such an obvious thing when you first meet him, and the first thing out of his mouth is, my name is Ego. He’s very proud of that, and you gotta understand that he’s made everything in his life. He chose to come to earth and look like Kurt Russell. (laughter) That’s a choice. (laughter) The apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree. If he doesn’t know who his father is he’s gonna create this guy who’s like, David Hasselhoff. And it has that right note of comedy and- and yet correctness to it. I thought that was great- I love all the layers of that stuff. And I don’t like to shy away from what’s fun about the joke, all levels of the joke. When you consider all levels of the joke, you’re gonna be in there somewhere. And that’s one of my things that I’ll pat myself on the back for that more than a lot of other actors.
You’ll see a lot of actors, and you can tell, I don’t think that guy has much self-humor. They don’t find much about themselves funny. I can name a lot of ‘em. (laughter) I like actors and what they can do. I love working with ‘em, but self-humor is a funny thing, and I think that’s probably where Chris Pratt and I probably share a lot.”
Dad and son relationship in the film
“The one thing that I would like to have seen is about fifteen seconds more of playing catch. (At this point we all agreed verbally) However, your reaction is proof that you shouldn’t do that. Because if you go too far with that relationship there’s gonna be something very wrong with this. You know, it is a son, killing his father. So you gotta be very careful with that. That, I mean, you know, when you watch the movie that doesn’t look like a problem. It’s perfect. You hate him, you wanted to get him and put him out. But when you’re doing it, you don’t know these things. You can only assume them and try to play the scenes that are there correctly to make that final moment what it should be…”
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Note: Disney provided me with an all-expenses paid press trip, in exchange for my coverage of the world premiere of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. However, ALL opinions are my own.