Kurt Russell is best known for his collaborations with John Carpenter, taking on the mantle of many well known anti-hero types like R.J. MacReady from The Thing and Snake Plissken from the Escape From films. He’s come to play some fairly iconic roles, including a few for director Quentin Tarantino. After rumors circled about him possibly being cast as Star-Lord’s father in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we can now add Ego the Living Planet from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 to mega franchise resurgence as of late (alongside his new role in the Fast & Furious franchise).
Screen Rant’s Rob Keyes sat down with Kurt Russell on the set of Guardians 2 last April, but at that time Marvel and writer-director James Gunn were not willing to reveal who he was playing even though we already knew. But it did make for some interesting interviews and question-dodging!
During the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 press junket however, we picked up that conversation with Kurt Russell who could speak more to the character and joining the project. We discuss how the role of Ego was pitched to him, what the process was like to take him back to looking like 1980s Kurt Russell, and what his chances were for returning to the Fast and Furious franchise.
Initially, when they say Kurt Russell is going to play Ego the Living Planet, how did they pitch that to you?
Kurt Russell: Well it was really interesting because I was doing publicity for The Hateful Eight, for the [Quentin] Tarantino movie, and all of a sudden one day they were, I was just phone calls and people on the street were saying, “Are you going to be Peter Quill’s dad? Are you going to do Guardians of the Galaxy?” And I was like, “I don’t know what they are talking about.” I hadn’t seen Guardians of the Galaxy. I had heard of it.
So this was speculation at this point.
Kurt Russell: Yeah. And it happens from time to time, but not with the size of that. Anyway, so when I read the script, I said I need to see the movie. I saw the movie and, within like 6-8 minutes watching Chris, I saw why this was a good match. And then I read a script again and then I just said, “We need to talk a few things out. I just want to make sure I got the right take on it here and the right understanding.” And you know I got enough of it to where I said, “Yeah. This is a great opportunity.”
So when you are going to play Ego the Living Planet, you’ve made yourself up and you’ve created your own existence and you go to Earth and decide you want to look like Kurt Russell and you are going to make other choices too. I thought that was funny. And, look, it struck my sense of humor and it also struck my sense of emotion with the fact that here’s a young man who’s never seen his father and a father who’s never gotten to meet his son. They really want to do this and, when they get together finally, you’ve created this person in your mind that they match up to in many ways and, in some ways, they are not it and, in other ways, they vastly exceed it. And it’s all over the place.
It’s so funny because you mention that and I remember when you were doing The Hateful Eight, I saw the fan art of you on the planet’s face that somebody had made. It was pretty crazy. Talk to me about the 1980s Kurt that we got to see in the beginning of the film. How was that process?
Kurt Russell: Well I had just assumed like everyone else that we would be doing the newest, greatest thing. But on the set they like it when you can get as young as you can in terms of makeup and hair. Dennis Liddiard and I have done 28 movies together and my first movie with him was Tango & Cash. He really knows my face and he really knows how to do it and he knew me back then. And he said, “Hey, guys! You know what? Before we do all the dots and everything, let me just play with this for a second. I’ve got some tricks up my sleeve.” And he said, “Whatever you can do to get him closer will be helpful.” And I looked in the mirror when he was done and went, “Wow. That’s kind of unbelievable.” I could certainly see how they are going to be able to just, with digital and whatever magic they do. I’ve been told they didn’t do a whole lot of that. They didn’t do much digital. They just did a little brush up, clean up on a couple of things, but it’s pretty much Dennis Liddiard did. And then you work with that.
It’s like when I did Elvis. You know, it’s one thing to do it when you are rehearsing it, but now when you get into hair, makeup, and wardrobe; those are big things for me. They put me in the mood. That’s when deception begins to happen and you go ‘woah!’ And when you get play with it right, you get an amazing result sometimes. I wasn’t surprised. I saw the movie and when I saw the movie it was like, “Yeah. You know I saw that on the day.” They didn’t really do a whole lot. A little bit of thing here and there once in awhile. Actually, I looked a little older than I thought I was going to, but when my two sons Wyatt and Boston were watching the screening of it that we saw, they were like, “Oh my God! Oh my God!” And I thought to myself, “It’s amazing what you can do if you know what you are doing with makeup.”
You know, you’ve done a huge property like the Fast and the Furious and, obviously, Guardians of the Galaxy. What are the chances that you will be returning to the Fast and the Furious franchise for Part 9?
Kurt Russell: Well, all my life I have never been one much for sequels and stuff. I did it one time with Escape from LA and then Escape from New York seventeen years earlier. But we live in a different time now. We live in a time when that is the norm. I have never had anything against it. It’s just that each time is, I think what they’ve learned now is that you can’t just throw a sequel out there just because you did good business. You have to go after it. You got to go after it to make it even better. It puts more pressure on you. That I like. That I think is a challenge. You know, every time you look at what it is. And if you like it, if you think there is a reason to do it, you do it. If there’s not, you don’t.
Set to the all-new sonic backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 continues the team’s adventures as they traverse the outer reaches of the cosmos. The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage. Old foes become new allies and fan-favorite characters from the classic comics will come to our heroes’ aid as the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to expand.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is written and directed by James Gunn and stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, featuring Vin Diesel as Baby Groot, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris Sullivan, Sean Gunn, Tommy Flanagan, Laura Haddock, with Sylvester Stallone, and Kurt Russell. Kevin Feige is producing, and Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Jonathan Schwartz, Nikolas Korda and Stan Lee are the executive producers.