When Guardians of the Galaxy first arrived back in 2014, most people probably didn’t know what to make of it. Much like the Guardians themselves, the cast was a rag-tag bunch; a cult sitcom star, a wrestler, and Doctor Who’s former assistant, to name but a few. To those who had never even read the Marvel comics, the idea of a Guardians of the Galaxy movie may have even sounded a little odd.
James Gunn knew better, though. With a cast boasting not only the talents of Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, and Karen Gillan, but also Zoe Saldana, Michael Rooker, and big name stars like Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper, it was clear from the outset that Guardians of The Galaxy was something special.
Boasting arguably the most eclectic group of actors to ever feature in a Marvel movie to date, the Guardians cast also boasts some of the most fascinating stars working in Hollywood today. Don’t believe us? Take a look at these 15 awesome facts for further proof.
15. Chris Pratt Used To Be A Stripper
Long before Chris Pratt landed the Guardians of the Galaxy gig, or even made his name on Parks and Recreation, he enjoyed a brief career as a stripper, working bachelorette and birthday parties. Aged just 18, Pratt was eking out a living with a string of part-time jobs at the time, one of which happened to involve a little bit of dancing with no clothes on.
“I was always a very much naked person. I loved to always get naked. I was very free, so I thought, I may as well get paid,” Pratt told BuzzFeed during an interview promoting Delivery Man back in 2013. Alas, despite his best efforts, Pratt was unable to parlay his talents into a full-time career as a male dancer. “I was never like Magic Mike, you know. I did go one time and audition on a stage for a club, but I don’t think I got the job. I don’t think I’m a very good dancer.”
14. Dave Bautista Has An Unusual Hobby
During an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live back in 2015, Drax the Destroyer actor Dave Bautista revealed that he has a rather unique hobby; collecting vintage steel lunchboxes. The Guardians of the Galaxy star has over 150 steel lunchboxes, featuring familiar comic book heroes like Superman and The Green Hornet. Bautista ranks an unused vintage Beatles lunchbox as the most valuable in his collection, estimating its value at around $6,000, while his personal favorite features the Man of Steel himself.
When filming finished on Spectre — Bautista’s finest onscreen work to date outside the MCU — the actor gave director Sam Mendes a rare and valuable original James Bond lunchbox as a gift. Mendes told the WWE star that the lunchbox now has pride of place next to his Academy Award. Not one to allow his epic collection to be short-changed, Bautista subsequently spent the next few months finding the very same Bond lunchbox to replace the one he gave away from his collection.
13. Zoe Saldana Is Multilingual
Born to a Dominican father and Puerto Rican mother, Gamora actress Zoe Saldana grew up in Jackson Heights, New York, learning to speak both English and Spanish. She remains fluent in both, making her bilingual at the very least.
However, since meeting and marrying Italian artist Marco Perego, Saldana has also made a concerted effort to learn her husband’s language. She’s now semi-fluent in Italian, with both herself and husband Perego having elected to speak to their children in all three languages in the hopes that the little ones will also be multilingual come adulthood. The actress revealed as much during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmell Live in 2015, where she told the host that they had been speaking to their newborn twin sons, Bowie and Cy, in all three languages. It’s likely that they took a similar approach with their other son, Zen.
12. Michael Rooker Is A Martial Arts Master
Long before he made his name in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, much of Michael Rooker’s time was spent in the dojo. The Hollywood veteran first got involved in martial arts back in the 1970s, studying under the tutelage of Fumio Toyoda Shihan before immersing himself in the world of theater, and later, film.
Rooker remains a keen enthusiast to this day, though. During the season three finale of The Walking Dead, a graphic entitled “Relaxing With Michael Rooker” revealed further information on his passion: “The principles of aikido and kyokushin karate play a big role in my activities, from working on set with other actors to actually being in the dojo itself and training,” Rooker wrote, in comments republished by Comicbook.com.
11. Vin Diesel Has A Secret Twin Brother
Fans might be surprised to learn that Vin Diesel has a fraternal twin brother, partly because both the star and his sibling have done their level best to keep the whole thing a secret. His name is Paul Vincent, and while he also works in the industry as a film editor and producer, Paul has made a point of steering clear of the limelight wherever possible. That said, Vin Diesel did direct fans to a rare picture — shared on Facebook back in March 2014 and pictured above — of his sibling alongside his late Fast and Furious co-star Paul Walker.
“Pablo and my mother would have deep conversations… she claimed, that it was no accident that this on-screen duo has come to define brotherhood in Our millennium,” Diesel wrote alongside the original post. “You see… the other guy in the photo is also named Paul… and although they look more alike, he is actually my twin brother.”
10. Bradley Cooper is great at impressions
Bradley Cooper’s vocal talents go well beyond the character of Rocket in Guardians of the Galaxy – he’s also a pretty handy impressionist with a repertoire that includes some of Hollywood’s biggest names. Cooper is capable of mimicking Robert De Niro, Owen Wilson and, of course, Christopher Walken. He can also do a mean Clint Eastwood, and he’s demonstrated as such on various talk shows over the years.
His impression skills go beyond the world of film, though, as Cooper is also able to pull off a pretty deft Bill Clinton. In each instance, Cooper credits his ability to mimic their voices to spending time with them on various films or after meeting them in person. It’s a pretty useful talent to have, especially if Vin Diesel ever tired of saying “I Am Groot”. Not that he ever would.
9. Chris Pratt knows Dr. Dre’s 2001 album by heart
During the promotional tour for the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, Chris Pratt revealed his love of hip-hop, going as far as comparing his passion for Dr. Dre’s seminal album 2001 to Peter Quill’s own appreciation of a certain mixtape from the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie.
Speaking to DJ Whoo Kid on his radio show Whoolywood Shuffle, Pratt explained that it dated back to his time as a youngster living in a van in Maui and living in blissful ignorance alongside one of his close friends. “I know every word to that album,” he said. As if further proof was needed, Pratt went on to unleash a word-perfect rendition of Eminem’s verse from the single Forgot About Dre, much to the delight of DJ Whoo Kid and Youtube audiences everywhere.
8. Dave Bautista Used To Be A Break Dancer
Though it might seem strange to think it, given the actor’s crazy ripped 6’6, 280ish pound frame, but Dave Bautista wasn’t particularly into sports growing up. One thing he did have a passion for, however, was break dancing. According to the book, Batista Unleashed, Bautista spent much of his youth hanging out in large groups of young guys, trying out his latest moves. Growing up in Washington D.C. around the height of the breakdancing craze in the 1980s, Bautista recalls how he and his friends would travel into the heart of the capital, where he and his friends would hang out into the early hours.
Though his subsequent career in wrestling rarely called for these kinds of skills, Bautista did get to try them out in one promo for the WWE ahead of the annual SummerSlam pay-per-view. No word yet on whether or not Drax the Destroyer will be breakdancing onscreen anytime soon.
7. Michael Rooker Is In A Very Elite Group Of Actors
Michael Rooker is an actor with a filmography that’s as long and diverse as any you are likely to find. It’s something that has seen him enter a very select group of just two actors to have worked alongside Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Jean-Claude Van Damme.
He appeared alongside Stallone in 1993’s Cliffhanger before starring in The 6th Day with Schwarzenegger back in 2000. Rooker completed the holy trinity of action stars a year later, when he featured in Van Damme’s Replicant. It puts him equal with Brian Thompson, an actor familiar to X-Files fans as an alien bounty hunter, and who appeared alongside Schwarzenegger in The Terminator, with Stallone in Cobra, and in the Van Damme direct-to-DVD effort, The Order.
Rooker can go one better than Thompson though – he also featured in Steven Seagal’s 1988 classic Above The Law in an early role that saw him credited as “man in bar”. (Whether or not Seagal remotely measures up to the aforementioned trinity is…debatable.)
6. Bradley Cooper was nearly the Green Lantern
Bradley Cooper was linked to a whole host of major comic book movie roles before he signed on to voice Rocket in Guardians of the Galaxy. He came very close to landing one of them though — the part of Hal Jordan in The Green Lantern, a role that eventually went to Ryan Reynolds.
While Reynolds may have ultimately won the part for any number of reasons, Cooper has always maintained what he felt ended up losing him the role: his audition. Speaking on The Conan O’Brien Show, Cooper revealed that things started to go very wrong in the audition when he decided to adopt a vocal style pretty familiar to comic book movie fans. “I couldn’t not do Christian Bale’s Batman when I was doing the audition,” he said. “I don’t know what it was!”
Despite Cooper’s best efforts, Reynolds was cast in the role and the rest, as they say, is history. But who knows, perhaps Cooper might still get a crack at playing Green Lantern yet.
5. Karen Gillan Is A Mean Piano Player
Karen Gillan is an undoubtedly talented actress, but what many probably don’t realize is that she is also a pretty adept pianist. When she’s not busy playing Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy, the Inverness-born star likes nothing more than playing the piano. It gets better though – not only is Gillan able to play some familiar favorites on the piano, but she’s also composed her own original pieces, which she has been known to share with fans on her Instagram page.
It’s part of the reason she landed a place at the Italia Conti Theatre Of Arts in London, a prestigious drama school known as much for producing actors as it is musicians. Gillan’s musical talents go beyond playing the piano too – she’s also a pretty impressive singer, and she’s been known to croon in the style of none other than Britney Spears.
4. Chris Pratt Collects Dead Bugs
Chris Pratt has a pretty unusual hobby: collecting dead bugs. But it’s also one that helped change the course of his life forever. Because, as it turns out, it was Pratt’s bug collection that made his wife Anna Faris realize that the pair were perfect for each other.
Speaking on The Late Late Show with James Corden, Faris recalled the moment she first discovered they shared the same, very unique hobby. “I had a bug collection and … when Chris and I first started dating he invited me over to his apartment and he had, also, a dead bug collection,” she said.
It was an important moment for Faris. “I started to cry. [I thought] ‘I’ve met the man of my dreams—we both have dead bug collections!‘” That’s pretty sweet if you can get past the whole bug carcasses part.
3. Bradley Cooper’s Favorite On-Screen Kiss
Bradley Cooper has enjoyed many an on-screen embrace with some of the hottest stars in Hollywood. Rachel McAdams, Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Connelly, Jessica Biel, Adam Adams, and Jennifer Lawrence are just a few of the beautiful A-list actresses he’s kissed on film. Yet when Cooper was asked to reveal his favorite on-screen kiss during an appearance on Regis & Kelly in 2009, he came up with a slightly more unusual answer: Michael Ian Black.
That’s right, the Hollywood heartthrob ranks Black as his favorite smoocher on film, having shared a passionate kiss with the comedian in his debut movie Wet Hot American Summer, back in 2001. Black saw things a little differently on Twitter at the time, however.
“Bradley Cooper just said I am his favorite on-screen kiss,” he tweeted. “That wasn’t kissing; it was lovemaking.” They went on to repeat the experience in the Netflix prequel series of the same name.
2. Zoe Saldana Wanted To Be A Ballerina
Long before Zoe Saldana embarked on a movie career with a part in the Britney Spears movie Crossroads, she was busy trying to make it as a ballerina. In fact, if things had worked the way Saldana had hoped, she may never have turned to acting.
Having discovered a passion for dancing through her family in the Dominican Republic, Saldana enrolled in the ECOS Espacio de Danza Academy. It was there that she settled on her first true passion: ballet. Alas, it was not to be.
“When I was growing up, I wanted it so bad and I knew that I was never going to be as good as I wanted to be,” she told Time. “It was very disheartening and stressful when I used to dance. But I guess ballet sort of trained me for action.”
Saldana went on to forge a path in the world of acting with her dancing past largely forgotten – save for a reference to Gamora’s lacking dance skills in the first Guardians of the Galaxy film. The most dangerous woman in the universe appears to have stepped up her moves in the sequel, however.
1. Vin Diesel Almost Took On Another Major Marvel Role
Long before his days voicing Groot of the Guardians of the Galaxy, Vin Diesel had the opportunity to take on one of the most famous roles in the Marvel Comics universe: Matt Murdock, aka Daredevil.
Fresh off the back of the success of Riddick, a movie that saw Diesel play a partially-sighted hero of sorts, as well as his first turn as Dominic Toretto in The Fast and the Furious, the rising star was offered the part of the blind lawyer of Hell’s Kitchen. There was just one problem: he had also been offered the part of Xander Cage in the very first xXx movie, and scheduling meant that he could only choose one of the two. He opted for xXx, with Ben Affleck subsequently landing the role of Murdock.
Vin Diesel has no regrets, though. “You have to pick one film,” Diesel told MTV. “If you’re looking at ‘xXx’ or ‘Daredevil,’ and your heart goes with ‘xXx,’ you have to commit to it. It’s often like that.”
Could Vin Diesel have rescued the 2002 Daredevil film from awfulness? Would Bradley Cooper be a great Hal Jordan? Sound off in the comments!
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 opens on May 5th.