James Gunn talks Chris Pratt’s ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ audition

After months of reports, rumors and speculation, director James Gunn has set the record straight on a number of details about the Marvel Phase Two epic “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

The space-based superhero film is certain to deviate somewhat from the studio’s previous films — including last year’s mega-smash “The Avengers” — although it will still reside in the same cinematic universe.

Gunn (“Slither,” “Super”) sat down with Hey U Guys and went over some of the basic facts regarding the film, and talked up star Chris Pratt , who’s making the transition from his lovable doofus character on NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” to a star-trekking superhero in “Guardians.”

Among all the names of people reportedly appearing in the film, Pratt and “Walking Dead” actor Michael Rooker are the only two who have officially signed on, although Gunn seemed coy about the status of other stars, such as “Avatar’s” Zoe Saldana (being eyed for Gamora) and wrestling champ Dave Bautista, said to be playing Drax the Destroyer. It sounds like they’ve essentially signed on, but Gunn can’t yet confirm either one.  

According to Gunn, Pratt seems to be the perfect choice for the leading role of Peter Quill (AKA “Star-Lord”). 

“Everybody knows Chris Pratt is in the movie, and I saw maybe 80 to 100 guys read for Peter Quill. I was very specific that I wanted it to be somebody really extraordinary,” Gun explained. “I really had Robert Downey Jr in mind a lot. You had this guy who came in and he inhabited Tony Stark, when you first saw Tony Stark he blew your mind, you couldn”t believe what you were seeing. I knew that I needed somebody to blow my mind like that.”

“We saw a lot of very famous guys for the role, a lot of very well-known people, and very, very good actors,” he continued. “We saw a lot of good performances, but it wasn”t until Chris came in and he read and I was like, ‘oh my God”, this guy has his own, very particular, amazing take on the character that blew my mind, blew me away. Then I thought, this is the first guy I could see sharing the screen with Robert Downey Jr and giving him a run for his money.”

The last major team member to be cast is the pint-sized warrior Rocket Racoon, a role which Gun indicates will be filled in the next few weeks. The director nixed the rumors that Jason Statham would be providing the voice for the computer-generated hero.

Gunn went on to say that Rocket is the “heart” of the film, so his casting is crucial. He explained, “it”s really, really important to me that Rocket Racoon…is not a cartoon character, it”s not Bugs Bunny in the middle of ‘The Avengers,’ it”s a real, little, somewhat-mangled beast that”s alone. There”s no one else in the universe quite like him, he”s been created by these guys to be a mean-ass fighting machine.

When some of the film’ s concept art hit the web a few weeks ago, some fans pointed out potential similarities between “Guardians” and the heroes from a different “Galaxy” far, far away. However, Gunn stressed that his film will look and feel “very, very different from ‘Star Wars’.” 

“Guardians” will, as previously reported, play a key role in Marvel’s Phase Two. “All our [Marvel] movies are connected,” Gunn explained, “we”re created in a way that we”re very connected to the movies that came before us, we”re even more connected to ‘The Avengers 2,’ that comes after us, and so in that respect, what we would hope is that these characters would continue, and that at some point in time they”ll all meet up with different characters throughout the galaxy.”

However, those of you hoping for an Iron Man appearance will just need to get your fill from “Iron Man 3.” Gunn stated that Downey Jr. won’t be involved in “Guardians,” even in cameo form.

Finally, Gunn revealed with certainty that “Guardians” will begin shooting at the end of June. That’s only two months away, true believers. 

“Guardians of the Galaxy” is scheduled to open August 1, 2014.