James Gunn was the guest on today’s episode of Alison Rosen Is Your New Best Friend, and he had some interesting stories about casting Chris Pratt in Guardians of the Galaxy. Give Gunn credit for his vision, not only was Chris Pratt not the buff dude you moisten for today, at the time he was cast, he was at his most voluptuous, having just come off a part in Delivery Man that he had gained weight for (presumably to make Vince Vaughn look thinner by comparison). Nonetheless, Gunn knew that Pratt was the only Starlord for him, even if it meant a fat Starlord. A Star-Lard, if you will.
ALISON ROSEN: I know that Chris Pratt lost a lot of weight to be in the movie. And I’ve always wondered this – how does it work? Is it like, his contract stipulates that he must lose weight?
GUNN: I don’t know if his contract said anything about losing weight, it might have, but I don’t think it did. The thing is, we were taking a risk. Because we knew he had lost weight for Zero Dark Thirty. Not as much weight as he lost for Guardians… And I know that Kevin and Lou from Marvel sat him down and said, “If you want to do this you have to lose weight.”
And you have to remember, if he shows up and it’s a few weeks before filming and he still hasn’t lost weight, we can say we’re gonna hire somebody else. And I know Chris knew that.
…And he had gained weight for a role anyway, it wasn’t just like, Hey, you’re looking fat.
He was chubby anyway and he had gained more weight for The Delivery Man, so he was at his heaviest. But at the same time, the secret that I didn’t tell Chris until after we were done, is that for me I would’ve fought to keep him even if he was chubby, because he was the best. He fit that character the best. And if that meant that character was a little beefier, and we had the first chubby superhero, I would’ve gone with it. Because he was the best actor for the role.
What was it about him?
He brought this magic to the role, this sort of charm mixed with masculinity mixed with vulnerability. […] He added something outside the written character to the role. That was the same thing that Robert Downey, Jr. did when he got the role of Tony Stark. And I really wasn’t going to be satisfied with an actor until I got that. And so we saw many many many actors before Chris came in. And all of a sudden, that was it. I knew it was done.
Were you despairing at all before he came in?
Utterly despairing. Utterly despairing. Especially after our first screen test. The most positive thing was we had eight actors come in for the first screen test, some really big actors. And some of them were really really good. But in my heart I went to sleep that night and thought none of them is Peter Quill. My instinct was that none of them were right. But we’d spent all this money on screen tests and we’d seen all these people. And I really thought I was gonna go in and watch screen tests with Kevin Feige the next day and he was gonna give up. Because we were feeling pressured. But instead he was on the same page.
Gunn seems to think Guardians of the Galaxy wouldn’t have worked without Pratt, and I’d tend to agree. Marvel is at their best when they’re doing silly, tongue-in-cheek work. Now, as for this “first chubby superhero” business, I think George Reeves would like a word.
The James Gunn episode of Alison Rosen Is Your New Best Friend is out today.