My parents got divorced when I was three–the same year the movie Overboard came out. My parents also look quite similar to Goldie and Kurt, so I used to watch that movie and pretend they were my fake parents. Seriously, I did this for years. I’ve probably seen that movie over one hundred times. As you can imagine, meeting Kurt Russell in real life was a bit much for me. I even saw him and Goldie inside the theatre for the premiere and nearly stroked out. But what’s even more intense is watching Kurt Russell as Ego in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
Kurt Russell as Ego
Have you seen Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 yet?! It came out this weekend so if you haven’t, get to a theatre near you immediately. This post contains spoilers. For a spoiler-free read, check out my movie review here.
Kurt Russell Interview (CONTAINS SPOILERS)
Upon hearing his voice in the hallway, we all began clapping. He entered with a sly grin and insisted he stand for the duration of our interview so he could see each of us. To read more about this legendary gentleman, read this post: Kurt Russell Interview from the set in Atlanta.
We asked how he got involved in the film, and after admitting he had no idea what Guardians of the Galaxy was even about, he watched the movie with Goldie. Eight minutes in, already adored Chris Pratt as Star-Lord. He realized, “…I would bring the right baggage here. As I read the screenplay, it was even more so. I wanted to do it…”
He then voiced his concern for the pressure that comes with playing Star-Lord’s father. Especially with how the story is written.
Kurt Russell: “So because I was I was gonna do the movie, because of the reaction that I got, 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. And I said, ‘You know, it has to have the right amount of comedy…’ Anyway, started talking about it and I felt very comfortable with James. I thought his hand was really solidly on it. He really knew what he was doing. And then, of course, working with Chris, primarily, that was just right. I just…as soon as Chris and I saw each other we just kinda smiled, gave each other a hug and said this is–this is clearly right. So that was kind of the early stages and the first processes of it.”
Q: Did it turn out the way you wanted it to? As far as showing enough comedy and everything else?
Kurt Russell: “Yeah, it was important… For instance, the one thing that I would like to have seen is about fifteen seconds more of playing catch. [We all say, ‘AWWW yeah.’]
However, your reaction is proof that you shouldn’t do that. Because if you go too far with that relationship they’re not–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. I mean, when you watch the movie that doesn’t look like a problem. It’s perfect. You hate him, you wanted to get him–you know, it’s like put him out. Put him out.
But when you’re doing it, you don’t know these things, you know? You can only assume them and try to play the scenes that are there correctly to make that final moment what it should be. And, you know, you have to go all the way from being kinda cool and loving and fun to just, you know, who f#$^ do you think you are? I think we’ve all said that to our kids. Who the hell do you think you are? [LAUGHTER] So I was like, I could hear myself, you know. I was literally, you know – you go to your room.
[LAUGHTER] So, it was all in that zone and it kinda had to have some of that tone to it so you could sort of enjoy as a parent, I think, some of that reprimand. And, you tell somebody to live a thousand years as a battery, he means it, you know.”
Q: Have you found that the Marvel fan base is different than other types of fans you’ve encountered doing different types of films?
Kurt Russell: “Well, first of all, I’ve never done a Marvel movie. I’ve done lots of Disney movies. The fact that they came together, I think kinda says they understand each other and they’ve obviously been doing this. Yeah, I don’t know what the reaction will be, you know, ‘cause the movie as far… You can have fans, but you might not–they might not be people who review movies and stuff. You never know what that’s gonna be. So, you just do what you’re gonna do. I do think that Disney, having done them, there’s a different energy to these movies.
I think 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 lotta times if you have something that’s successful, the next thirty scripts you read are gonna be in that zone. So I disappointed a lotta 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 wanna–you know, I passed that math test. I wanna go on to this English test now.’ And in saying that, and in doing that you create a 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.
They have a–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. We haven’t–you know, let’s do Overboard again. Let’s do Big Trouble In Little China over. Let’s do it again. Let’s do Escape From New York again. Let’s do Tombstone again. They’ve only done fifty-six Tomb- forty-five I think, or forty-six of Wyatt Earp and Val- Doctor- 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 myself with giving the director as many options as possible with takes so that he could, or she could, put the movie together and have a lot of options to choose from. When you do that, you kinda take that, and you’re putting a lot of trust in the director. The other way of doing it is you sort of 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. Keeps me fired up.”
Q: Any characters you want to play that you haven’t yet?
Kurt Russell: “Not really. I’ve concerned myself a few times and am right now actually a little bit with creating some things. But I’m more of a hired gun, and I really enjoy that. So I just sorta wait until I read something. Wait for the phone to ring, and if it’s not ringin’, then I’m goin’ to the vineyard.”
Q: How much of yourself is in your character, Ego?
Kurt Russell: “I 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. Ego is…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. Jay-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 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 literally–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. And so he’s chosen to be that. He chose to come to earth and look like Kurt Russell. [LAUGHTER] That’s a choice. [LAUGHTER] And his son’s… 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, hey, David Hasselhoff. And it has that right note of comedy and–and yet correctness to it. I thought that was a great–I love all the layers of that kinda stuff. I don’t like to shy away from what’s fun about… 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… 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. Doesn’t find much about himself funny. I can name a lot of ‘em. [LAUGHTER] I like actors. I like 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.”
Q: In the opening scene, where you’re younger, what was that process like?
Kurt Russell: “Like that guy right there. [Points to his right.] That guy right there is my–his name is Dennis Liddiard. He’s been my makeup man for twenty-eight years. We’ve done a lot of movies together where our goal was to, without the audience knowing it, help me arrive at what I need to do to set the tone for the character, the look for the character, the feel for the character. And I think we’ve achieved it many times. Very subtly. So much so that nobody knows what he did.
On this one, I’m really proud to point him out because we assumed, all of us, that for that we were just gonna do heavy CGI special effects like they normally do. And Dennis, before we start goin’, Dennis, said to James Gunn–we just did this interview with James Gunn and… And so James Gunn and the cinematographer and whoever else was there. Some of ‘em are old guys. ‘Hey guys. I know his face really, really well. And I can really do a lot here to bring him down. If I de-age him some, does that help you?’
And they said, ‘As much as you can help. Yes. That helps very much.’ When he was done and when I got the right hair goin’ [LAUGHS] very important. And when he got the wardrobe going, and then the actor has the opportunity to see that, and begin to feel that and, in the case of yourself, say yeah that’s a younger me. It’s time for me to go to work and slip into all of that and take advantage of all of that, and go be younger. Go play younger. You lighten your voice, you move a little quicker, you go to work with that. I think the reason this one worked, everybody has said, this looks so… this is amazing. This is- really looks real. Is it because there’s not much CGI here. And I ran into the woman last night who’s the head of that department. She came up all excited and she said, ‘What did you think about what we did to you?’ And I said, ‘I thought it was great, but I heard it wasn’t very much.’ [LAUGHTER] She said, ‘No it wasn’t.’ [LAUGHTER] And I said, ‘Yeah, he’s got some tricks up his sleeve and he pulled ‘em all out.’ In fact did it very fast. Because it hadn’t been asked of him. So there’s hope for all of us. [LAUGHTER] You guys know a lot more about that than we do. But you have somebody who knows your face and you gotta have a face that you can work with. That’s true, you know. But he knows my face and he–so they did some CGI and stuff there, but mostly that’s that guy right there.”
Well, now that we’ll all be stalking Kurt Russell’s makeup man for beauty tips…
How do you feel about Kurt Russell as Ego in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2?