Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 will present a whole new set of challenges for Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) and the heroes. They will have new battles to deal with after defeating Ronan in the original, and it appears the Ravagers may fight back in the sequel. But perhaps the biggest conflict that will face Star-Lord is not the intergalactic kind, but the kind that happens with his own family drama.
Guardians 2 has long been built up as an exploration of what it means to be a family. A major component of the story will be Star-Lord’s relationship with his absentee father, Ego the Living Planet (Kurt Russell). The material sounds heavy, but Pratt explained in a new interview that in the sequel he won’t entirely be acting – he will be drawing upon real-life experiences.
Speaking with GQ, Pratt described how filming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 helped him cope with the recent loss of his real-life father, with whom he had a complicated relationship:
“The truth is I ripped open some wounds that had been healing for some time. And I didn’t want to. But I knew it was right for the moment… There are wounds that are never going to be totally healed. It would probably make for a better story if it was some emotional thing that I hadn’t dealt with… When we face the death of a parent, you sometimes feel regret that you didn’t fully embrace what you had.”
Pratt’s father Daniel died in 2014, while the Guardians star was filming Jurassic World, due to complications arising from multiple sclerosis. Pratt mostly held his emotions inside as he finished filming on Jurassic World before opening up during the filming of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. He described his father in a previous interview with GQ as a tough, “ornery” old-school kind of parent, whose illness – and subsequent refusal to fight it in his later years – put some strain on their relationship and the family as a whole.
It appears that Pratt was able to effectively channel those complex emotions into his on-screen performance as Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Any time an actor can draw upon real, raw emotions and translate them to a performance can help elevate the material beyond what it may become if the actor was just pretending. For a movie that director James Gunn has described as “a story about fathers,” Pratt’s real-life issues with his own dad should only serve to make the sequel a better story.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 will, of course, still need to tell a coherent story with a compelling script for Pratt’s performance to make as big an impact as possible. Even the best actors in the world with the most real-life experience to draw from couldn’t save a weak script. Fortunately, Gunn’s script for the first Guardians of the Galaxy is arguably among the sharpest in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so there’s reason to believe that he will again deliver top-notch writing in the sequel – and that Pratt’s emotional performance will flourish as a result.