On both the London set of Guardians of the Galaxy back in 2013 and last April at the Atlanta set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, we had the opportunity to chat with the cast while they were dressed up and done up in their impressive alien makeup.
Zoe Saldana’s green skinned, party cybernetic look is very impressive and it’s easy to forgive someone for having challenges separating actor from lethal cosmic assassin if it weren’t for the happy smile and laughter Saldana brought to both conversations.
In our chat about the sequel, while sitting beside several sets in an abandoned, old conference center, the focus was on the complicated sisterhood relationship between Gamora and Nebula (Karen Gillan) – a relationship that we’ll soon learn, isn’t quite what you’d expect. We also discuss Thanos, weapons, working with Kurt Russell, the Awesome Mix Volume 2 soundtrack, and what Avenger she wants to meet most.
Zoe Saldana: Hi, you guys, how are you?
How are you?
Zoe Saldana: Did you guys have a good day? Were you guys watching some of the stuff they were doing?
Yes! We saw a bit of your action scene over there a little bit from this side of the screen.
Zoe Saldana: Oh yes. Yes, lots of action. All right, man, fly away, you guys.
We just talked to Karen [Gillan] and she was talking about how we’ll probably see more of an empathetic side to Nebula. Can you talk a little bit about seeing a darker side to Gamora as we get to their history and relationship with Thanos?
Zoe Saldana: I just don’t know how much, how darker Gamora can go. You know, when you started with her in the first film, she’s like full blown assassin. And with a lot of bad habits. Who through the friendship that she initiates with the Guardians like it just, it compels her to sort of turn a new leaf – is that the way you guys say it in English? So in this movie, I don’t know about her being like a total like bitch, you know? I think there are some sympathetic values to her character that she’s gonna try to sort of incorporate. When it comes to her relationship with Nebula, I appreciate what James Gunn did. He definitely heard what the fans were saying, you know. To see this relationship extensively unfold and see what they’re about and, I mean, but through their relationship you getting like a closer idea of what Thanos is really about. I think it’s really interesting to open up that window. And he certainly has with this sequel.
How will we see their dynamic change into this movie?
Zoe Saldana: Their dynamic, I think it’s definitely volatile when it starts. Which is to be expected. And then you’re gonna go in depth into understanding where they’re both coming from, which I find really interesting. And I can’t wait for you guys to see it unfold. Nebula’s definitely a tough cookie, man. And she has a lot more issues than Gamora does. I mean, I guess I just feel like Gamora at least has friends. You know, Nebula is just she’s just lethal and Karen really delivers in this movie. More than she did in the first one. I mean, she was so good in the first movie that James couldn’t kill her off. He had to find a way to bring her back, which I really appreciate.
What do you get to do that in this one that you didn’t get to do in the last one that’s really exciting?
Zoe Saldana: You know, the stunts here are much more defined and they’ve been a lot more challenging. So I’ve been having fun, especially after like popping twins like 17 months ago. The fact that I could get on wires and be lifted 30 feet up in the air at full speed or just be dropped and landing on heels that are this high, I love the fact that they’re trusting me with this. And I’m having a lot of fun. That and I always have fun with action scenes. I get to have a sister on screen. I don’t think many actresses can say that about the characters that they’re playing in films lately. So Karen and I really appreciate the gesture.
You got some upgrades, new weapons, new cool stuff?
Zoe Saldana: I don’t know, man. I find, I’m a huge believer in that saying that if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. So we weren’t broken when it came to our fighting abilities. We’re really stealth. So I think I’m gonna stick to the swords. It’s a pretty fucking awesome sword anyway, so it’s heavy.
How does Gamora feel about J’Son [Kurt Russell’s character, Ego, whose identity was being kept secret on the day]?
Zoe Saldana: You know, he has good hair. That’s as much as I can say.
How does Zoe feel about Kurt [Russell]?
Zoe Saldana: Well, Tango, was he Tango? Tango and Cash, come on people, I’m an ’80s kid. I love all my cheesy ’80 movies.
He’s Jack Burton to us.
Zoe Saldana: From?
Big Trouble in Little China.
Zoe Saldana: Okay. But I do love Big Trouble in Little China. I am a fan of his. To get to work with a veteran of that scale and I’m really humbled. And he’s fantastic. An incredible human being. And I’ve been also a great fan because he’s always been someone we’ve always talked about, my family on about being a good Father. A really good man to his family. So I get to work with a decent human being. I’m really happy about that. When you get old, you know, your time starts to mean everything to you. So how you spend it and who you spend it with is very important. And if I’m gonna spend 16 hours of my day at work, I better be fucking spending it with great people. And Kurt Russell is a great person I have to say.
One of the things that Chris [Pratt] was saying was that when they first wrote these characters, they didn’t have actors in mind. And this time coming back they had some of your voices and were able to help use that to develop the characters some more. So do you see that in what they brought to Gamora this time? And are they playing off of you more?
Zoe Saldana: Yeah. There’s a lot more freedom that James is giving himself in letting us kind of improvise. And kind of test how well we know our characters and how well he wants to push us as our characters. And we’ve been having a lot of fun. So obviously Gamora’s not known to have a sense of humor. So that has been a challenge for us. But we’ve been enjoying experimenting with her and seeing what he’s gonna be able to keep in the editing room. It’s always a treat.
They said at the beginning that they’re almost arrogant. Like they’re conceited ’cause of their success.
Zoe Saldana: They’re super yes, and they’re so annoyed with each other. And oh man, I love them to pieces, these characters but if I had to like be roommates with them, I don’t know what I would do. Like in a group that stuck with like Peter, Drax for the love of God and Rocket.
What about Groot, Baby Groot?
Zoe Saldana: Oh thank God there’s Groot.
They feel like a team that really cares about each other.
Zoe Saldana: Yes, through the way they put each other down. Which I think it’s great. I think it’s a really interesting twist because what James established is a perfect friendship because our flaws is what makes us love each other more. Or at least accept each other more.
Your makeup, it looks like Gamora has run afoul of somebody. It looks like there’s some bruises here and here. Can you talk about who maybe has laid some blows?
Zoe Saldana: You guys are awesome.
Zoe Saldana: You guys are gonna feel like tonight like leaving going thanks for nothing. Marvel, stick it Marvel, man. What the fuck? Well this is what happens when the Guardians go on vacation. You know, we decide to go on a retreat for a weekend and it ends up being much more interesting than what we were imagining. We’re going, we went to a great place. Loved it. We may even go back there. If it’s still there. So…
Can I translate this to is this the opening scene when you go to–?
Zoe Saldana: Not at all, you’re not even close. You’re not even close. But you can say that.
Zoe Saldana: Just all I’m gonna say is… He’s like I’m right here, Zoe. Damn it. It’s really good. We go about the vacation for the weekend, technically I’m right about that. I think our host ends up being like an, you know, so that’s all I’m gonna say.
In the first movie, Gamora was sort of, as the team was coming together, Gamora brought the sense of ‘let’s do the right thing.’
Zoe Saldana: Still am.
With new characters coming in in this one, does she still play that role?
Zoe Saldana: Yeah. But we know where that line is of her turning into like a Mom a lot, you know. And her just being just a meticulous, detailed, professional individual. But now it’s like okay, if we’re gonna be sort of like bounty hunters or whatever it is that we’re gonna do in the universe, let’s just establish some rules and let’s stick by it. Like what’s your title? What’s your title? She’s definitely like really OCD about that. Hasn’t changed. I think it’s gotten worse. She should probably go talk to somebody. But she’s… she is their moral compass. Still is.
Speaking of roles and rules, what are the roles between Peter and Gamora this time. There was a ‘will they, won’t they?’ vibe in the first film. Where does it go here in Volume 2?
Zoe Saldana: They’re becoming a really good team. In the way that like oil and vinegar are. Where it’s good together, it tastes good together. But they tend to still stick to their own things. And I think Peter may have gotten a little more annoying. And Gamora’s just a little too rigid sometimes. So through the dynamics that are happening around her, she learns to relax. By the way, you guys, let’s talk about our director.
Here, writer and director James Gunn comes walking by.
James Gunn: She just spoiled the end of the movie though. So…
Zoe Saldana: I didn’t say anything. I said it’s like a Weekend at Bernie’s.
James Gunn: Yeah.
Zoe Saldana: Anyway, our director’s like a genius. He is.
How’s Volume 2’s soundtrack?
Zoe Saldana: Aw…
We heard some of it today.
Zoe Saldana: You did, right? It’s amazing.
You said you’re an ’80s kid. Do you approve of everything that’s…?
Zoe Saldana: These were songs that were already like classics by the time I was listening to music. I came from like Borderline, like Madonna and things like that. But listening to these songs while I’ve been working on Guardians and on these two movies has gotten me to know that I did hear these songs growing up. And they did leave a mark.
Do they get stuck in your head?
Zoe Saldana: Yes, they do.
Which one gets stuck in your head the most?
Zoe Saldana: Well the one we were listening to, this Fleetwood Mac song is really amazing. And I’ve always been a die hard Fleetwood Mac fan. And Stevie Nicks is like a goddess. So…
Gamora and Nebula work out a lot of issues in this film. But actually I feel like they’re gonna wanna go take some of those issues to their dad [Thanos]. Do you feel like this movie pushes that forward and that could be the next iteration of their journey?
Zoe Saldana: It would seem like the logical thing. We’ve been, don’t be fooled by this, but despite like all how fun it is to get to get paid to come do a Marvel movie where you play a green alien, we do try to seek some truth to what these individuals have gone through. And it’s not difficult to find parallel scenarios that we can sort of empathize with. So we’re living through times right now with so many refugees fleeing from their homelands, trying to better their lives and just survive in other lands. Like these are orphans. They’re all orphans. They were all either taken, abused, forced into a life of violence. So once you kind of take away all the comedy and all the special effects and everything, the Guardians just it seems like a group of runaways that try to find a good, a reason to stick around.
So that’s how this movie and what James Gunn has created and the story he’s given each and every one of us like he just has my heart for life, because you can very well wrap something like this, like a Marvel movie and make it so superficial that a knife couldn’t cut through you. I mean, you’re just so insensitive to anything. It’s all about jokes and punchlines and muscles and lubricated muscles and good shots and bigger muscles and other sequels and great fucking hairdos that never come undone. And nobody cries. Nobody bleeds. Nobody feels a tremendous loss or void. And these guys are aching all the time. And they’re trying. They’re just trying to not be so fucked up. Every day they’re trying not to do one, they’re trying to do one bad, one less bad thing. That’s like from hurting themselves or hurting somebody else or doing something that will just get somebody else hurt. Like they’re just, they’re trying ’cause they’re assholes by nature. They’re really like they’re just jerks.
Obviously we don’t know where Gamora and Nebula will come down and they’re sort of coping and dealing and talking through their traumas in the group with Thanos at the end of this movie. But do you think like if she heard, hey, this whole crew of people is getting together and trying to stop Thanos, do you think like is that a fight that she would ever sit out of? Or do you think that she would be like no, count me in, I need to get revenge?
Zoe Saldana: I think Nebula is definitely like that one kid that you have that no matter what you do you can put them in the best schools, they’re still gonna be super fucking assholes. [Laughs]
What about Gamora though?
Zoe Saldana: And sorry for cursing, I just, I can’t curse at home [Laughs]. She’s just that person that… if all of us were to tell her we’re gonna help you, maybe she might stay and then she’ll be like ‘okay’ and then she’ll bail. Eventually. I think that what she feels in her heart is probably really, really serious. And it’s gonna take a lot of love to melt her ice, you know. That’s just my assumption.
Do you think that she’d want to be a part of that fight though?
Zoe Saldana: I mean, does a bully want friends? Of course.
So I know Marvel does everything really secret and this is hypothetical only, but in a hypothetical world where the Guardians met the Avengers, what Avenger do you think would be most interesting to see Gamora meet up with or go up against?
Zoe Saldana: The Hulk.
Zoe Saldana: Or should I just be more specific? Mark [Ruffalo].
Zoe Saldana: He’s my Infinitely Polar Bear. Thanks. Bye, you guys.
Zoe Saldana: Have a good weekend.
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.