Stars and Creators of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” Talk Evolution of the Characters, Joining the Team and More

The stars and creators of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 got together today to discuss the evolution of their characters, joining the team for this third film and more during a virtual press junket for the film.

The press junket featured Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 stars Chris Pratt, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Sean Gunn, Will Poulter, Chukwudi Iwuji and Maria Bakalova, as well as writer and director James Gunn and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige. It was also moderated by Nathan Fillion, who, as they pointed out during the junket, is also in the film.

Pratt, who of course stars as Star-Lord in the three Guardians films as well as a couple of Avengers films and Thor: Love and Thunder, was asked about where is character is at the start of this film.

“He’s lost,” Pratt said. “There’s a wonderful monologue that [Dave] Bautista gives that comes from Mantis, that Quill is a guy who needs to learn how to swim. He’s been hopping from lilly pad to lilly pad, woman to woman, relationship to relationship. That’s a pretty human condition, I think. Often times we find ourselves in our relationships or in the affiliations we have with a team or a family or whatever and he has been lost.”

Gillan, who has starred as Nebula since the beginning of the franchise as well, also got the chance to talk about where her character is now.

“I think post Thanos being eliminated from her life, she’s starting to flourish a little bit more and she’s starting to have a lighter personality and she’s a little more willing to show vulnerability.”

Another specific area in which Nebula has seen a lot of growth over the course of these films is her relationship with her sister, Gamora. Gillan shared some thoughts on the progression of the stories of these two characters.

“It’s been beautiful to see. You know, Nebula was always the kind of bitter one, so jealous of Gamora,” Gllan said. “And then, I guess she evolved and Gamora kind of helped her gain some compassion along the way and now they’ve kind of switched places, which has been really interesting to play around with.”

The only remaining original member of the cast who was present for the junket was Sean Gunn, who plays Kraglin and does the motion capture for Rocket. He was also asked about his character’s evolution since that first film.

“ Just like all the Guardians did, Kraglin had to kind of figure out what his place in the family was,” Sean Gunn said. “And one thing that really impresses me about the movies is how I do feel like, in a way, that the journey of the cast has mirrored the journey of the characters, in a way. And for me, being there in the first movie and being like ‘oh I’m the director’s brother and I’m here and I’m kind of on the outside and Kraglin is just kind of on the peripheral and he comes in and says his things here and there’ and then learning that over the course of the movies that i felt as much at home with all these people, you know, that I felt fully accepted as a member of the cast and of the group and that’s what happens with Kraglin over the course of the movies.”

Klementieff’s Mantis was a newcomer to the Guardians in the second film, but she has quickly become a fan-favorite. Klementieff shared some thoughts on what the character has meant to her.

“For me it’s not Mantis, it’s Mantis and James Gunn. You know, changed my life,” Klementieff said. “She’s an empath, you know, so you have to have a deeper connection with everything and everyone. So it’s like beautiful to tap into deep and profound and layered emotions, you know. And then I got to be super weird, which is really fun to do too and it comes naturally to me.”

Even though she only showed up for the first time in the sequel, Mantis has had plenty of screen time and Klemntieff had some thoughts on the character’s journey.

“She’s evolved so much throughout the movies and she’s gained so much confidence,” she said. “At the beginning I was more like, bug-like, doing like little hand gestures like Mr. Burns or like a fly. And then I was like ‘okay, she’s spent more with the Guardians, you know’ so she’s more used to being around other people so she’s less doing weird stuff and she’s more like, you know, walking and, you know, fighting.”

That brings us to the newcomers of this Guardians family. Poulter, who plays the comic book favorite Adam Warlock, shared a bit about what it was like to join the cast.

“I was nervous from the outside looking in, because I was a really big fan of the Guardians movies and, within the Marvel Universe, this was the trilogy, as it now is, of films that I was the biggest admirer of, and so you look at something as a fan and you think ‘that’s cool’ to be able to appreciate that as a fan and you think that’s what it will always be,” Poulter admitted. “You don’t imagine yourself being a part of it. So that in itself was exciting. And then to have an experience characterized by all of these lovely people making me feel so welcome, and something that I thought was going to be really scary actually being really good fun, you know.”

Warlock is a bizarre character and one that certainly must have been a challenge to play, but Poulter did share how he relates to to his character.

“I think the the thing I shared with Adam Warlock mostly was just that sense of trying to work out what the hell was going on,” Poulter laughed. “I was the new kid on the block arriving on this set very much like how Adam Warlock was arriving into the world trying to sort of find his way and work out the rules.”

Iwuji, who plays the villainous High Evolutionary in the film, had previously worked with James Gunn on the DC series Peacemaker for HBO Max. In fact, the two disagreed on the true story of exactly what happened when Iwuji found out he had been cast in the film. The actor did assure us though that his reaction was very much like a blank-faced Homer Simpson.

Iwuji did get to explain a bit how he went about creating his version of the High Evolutionary and how he got inside the head of the villain.

“The first thing that’s written when you meet [the High Evolutionary], is him listening to space opera. So immediately I knew classical music was going to be a big part of this character,” Iwuji said. “So a lot of finding this guy for me was saying if he’s listening to opera, and he’s this mad scientist sort of person, I just thought of someone that doesn’t sleep. Someone that’s obsessed with listening to this music, he needs the music as he wanders through his castle at night.”

Bakalova, who did actually voice Cosmo briefly in The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, returns to voice the character again. She shared her excitement for the idea of getting to play a dog in this film.

“When I found out that I can be on set actually and work in a mocap suit and imagine that I’m a child again and use my imagination to be like ‘okay today I’m going to be a dog or today I’m going to be a flower and tomorrow I’m going to be a butterfly,” Bakalova said. “It’s interesting, we tend to forget about imagination when we grow up but it’s just incredible.”

Of course, with this group having worked together for so long and this third film being the end of their run, it was an emotional experience. Gunn shared a story about being on a plane with Pratt, Klementieff and Gillan after they had wrapped the film. Pratt had spilled his coffee on Klementieff’s unique and expensive purse but what followed was unexpected.

“We’re flying for another, I don’t know, 10 minutes,” Gunn said. “And all of a sudden, Pom bursts into tears. And she goes ‘I’m so sad.’ And Chris and I look at each other and I go ‘you really screwed up.’ We thought she was sad about her purse getting wet and then she said ‘I feel like something is ending.’”

Gunn got choked up on the end of the story, which prompted Klementieff to chime in.

“I wanted to hide in the bathroom and cry because it was like, I don’t know, it’s like mourning, you know. Sometimes it just comes at unexpected moments and you just can’t control it and that’s the beauty of it too, you know. It just comes like that and I couldn’t contain it.”

Pratt also shared his thoughts on what the experience of the last day on set for this film was like for him.

“The thing that you want to avoid is regret, right? One day looking back and thinking ‘why did I just let that go by without trying to enjoy every moment? Why didn’t I savor that?’ And I knew that going into it,” Pratt reflected. “I wanted to be that guy who reminded everyone how far we’d come and all the things that we’d overcome. And so I read like, a few reviews from people who had said that Guardians was going to be the first big flop. And I was like ‘here’s what this guy said and this guy said and this guy said and, don’t know how those ended up in my notes for the past nine years!’”

Finally, Feige took the opportunity to praise the cast, not only in attendance for the junket but also the ones who could not be there. Specifically, he praised Bautista, who plays Drax, for becoming “one of the best actors that we’ve ever gotten to work with.”

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 comes to theaters on May 5th.