Since Guardians of the Galaxy hit cinemas with a record-breaking success at the Box-Office, the attitude towards James Gunn’s space opera has gone from from “Why are they making THAT Marvel property?” to “This is the BEST Marvel movie EVER!”.
Having completely nailed their roles as Marvel’s unlikely heroes, the key behind the cast’s knock-out performance is revealed by a look back to their past. A retrospective glimpse at the careers of Chris Pratt, Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel and Dave Bautista reveal that they are a band of Hollywood misfits, much like the unlikely team of criminals they portray in GotG.
Don’t believe me? Then check out the cast’s weird and wonderful rise from obscurity that gave Guardians of the Galaxy the edge it needed...
Chris Pratt: Peter Quill/ Star-Lord
Fans of Parks and Recreation know that Chris Pratt has been a Hollywood A-lister just waiting for the world to recognize his glowing charm, comedy and charisma. Pratt came close to being cast as Captain Kirk in Star Trek and Jake Sully in Avatar, coincidentally two roles that co-star with fellow Guardian Zoe Saldana.
Losing out to safer options, Pratt made a less explosive rise to fame with minor roles in The O.C. and Everwood. Finally in 2009 he started his role as Andy Dwyer, without doubt the best character in Parks and Recreation and more importantly, the man responsible for awesome improv hailed too funny to make the final cut:
But years before he played the dim-witted goofball in Parks and Rec, the up-and-coming star worked as a Coupon Salesman... in his own hilariously loud fashion, of course!
But if there's just one career move that justifies Chris Pratt’s role as the ultimate galactic misfit, it’s his short-lived stint as a stripper for the elderly.
"When I was a kid, I was in a small town. I was a stripper for a little while…I did bachelorette parties in my hometown; my friend's grandma had me. I wasn't good" - Chris Pratt on The Ellen Degeneres Show
Zoe Saldana: Gamora
In recent years, Zoe Saldana has become movie franchise dynamite. She prominently features in James Cameron’s Avatar as Neytiri, Uhura in J.J. Abram’s Star Trek, a small role in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and now as femalien outsider, Gamora - a key female figure in Marvel’s big-screen universe. But before all this, Zoe had her chance to support Britney Spears in the pop singer’s ‘breakthrough’ acting debut in Crossroads.
For those of you who are too young, too old or too sensible to have seen the teen drama, here's a little context: In 2002, Britney was an unstoppable force in the pop industry who was about to meet the immovable object that was her lack of acting ability. As an ex-child actress for Disney's Micky Mouse club, Crossroads is the early 00s’ equivalent of a Miley Cyrus road movie.
While it would be easy to poke fun at Zoe Saldana for her role in Crossroads, the truth is that her contribution was a positive one, and clearly the right decision for her career. Her talent was evident even then, allowing her to eventually take on bigger and much better roles – she just needed the right vehicle (Crossroads…Vehicle, get it?) to make iconic characters like Uhura, Neytiri and Gamora her own.
Dave Bautista: Drax the Destroyer
Dave Bautista is best known for being a six-time world championship winning wrestler at WWE. But to achieve his triumphant run in the sport, Bautista had been working hard to get himself out of a delinquent lifestyle.
In a story far more severe than the rest of the Guardian's past, the wrestling legend was born into a poverty-stricken and dangerous area in Washington D.C. Bautista revealed that three murders occurred on his front lawn before he was 10 years old. In turn, it was only a few years later, at the age of 13, when he began a life of car-jacking that would continue through his adolescence.
A few years on, when a fight left one man unconscious and Bautista with one year on probation, his late teens took a positive turn by getting into bodybuilding - which began is historic sporting (and now movie-making) achievements.
Perhaps the best example of how Bautista has proven his acting worth outside of the wrestling world is with his first entry into a superhero franchise: DC’s Superman origin story, Smallville.
Only featuring briefly, his appearance still shows how far Dave Bautista has come, as he now stars as Marvel’s most terrifying hero - unless you have a phobia of Racoons. Another light fact about the man is that he collects vintage metal lunch boxes.
Vin Diesel: Groot
Vin Diesel is an integral member of the obscenely successful Fast and Furious franchise, along with Expendable-worthy action properties such as The Chronicles of Riddick and xXx. It is also usually forgotten that Vin played a part in Steven Speilberg's critally-acclaimed Saving Private Ryan.
"So, how could such a huge action hero possibly be a movie misfit?" I hear you ask. Well, maybe it would be better to let Vin do the talking, or should I say… DANCING?
That’s right! Although the slim frame and full head of hair may make him less recognizable than his appearance as Groot, the video displays the famed action star tearing up the dance scene, Step Up style!
Now, I don’t know anything about dance moves, but unless ‘kicking your dance partner in the gonads’ is a tradition in break dance choreography, I’d say this appearance in Breakin’ in the USA: Break Dancing and Electric Boogie Taught by the Pros has to go down as a failure, but a lovable one. This is also a ‘what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger’ scenario, because Vin has since packed up his dance mat, put away the ghetto blaster and found an acting niche that gave us his appearance in the Marvel epic.
Bradley Cooper: Rocket Racoon
Last but not least, Bradley Cooper, whose appearance as the 'aesthetically pleasing one' from The Hangover franchise thrust him into the limelight. His previous credits include two Oscar nominations for his David O' Russell team-ups American Hustle and Silver Linings Playbook, and Alias fans will be screaming if I don't mention his appearance as Will Tippin. But Cooper had been focused on making it in Hollywood for years prior to appearing on the J. J. Abrams thriller series.
Early proof was even caught on camera before his career had taken off, featuring as a second year drama student in the audience of Inside the Actor's Studio. In case you aren't familiar with the show, each episode features a famed actor and puts them in a seminar room to discuss their careers and have a quick Q & A. Cooper attended Sean Penn's discussion, and didn't waste the opportunity to ask him a question.
But that's just the beginning of Cooper's empathy with Rocket. Comments about the show's audience shows how Bradley Cooper can closely relate to Rocket Racoon, whose main arc in Guardians of the Galaxy is that he is constantly underestimated. Cooper's story of defiance is that nobody ever expects those student actors to become household names... or even full-time actors!
The irony of Bradley Cooper's appearance on the show gets even greater when you hear Chris Pratt's fellow Parks and Recreation actor Louis C. K. voice what everyone was always thinking...
In case you missed it due to his injured face, that was actually Louis C. K and Cooper starring opposite each other in American Hustle years later. Cooper's misfit story might not be one of courage, but does include laughing in the face of being underestimated, or as Rocket Racoon would say:
“Ain't no thing like me, except me!”
So, what do you think - do you agree that the cast of Guardians of the Galaxy are a real life band of misfits? Do you think it helped make the movie a success?
Maybe you remember the Guardians from somewhere I might have missed: Let everybody know in the comments below!