When I first showed my son the trailer for GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, he immediately pointed out that his favorite character was the “Tree Man”, or known to the rest of the world as Groot. At first I thought this was odd at first since my son had seen the cartoon, and was more of a fan of Star Lord. In fact he has never mentioned anything about Groot before. I guess there was just something about Marvel’s latest rendition of this tree that my son loved.
Now fast forward to last week when I ventured out to sunny California for Marvel’s GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY press junket. I was super excited to see that we would be interviewing Vin Diesel, who voices Groot.
Let me just say that this man has a presence for sure! When he walked into the conference room, I guess he could definitely feel our energy. He had the biggest grin on his face as we cheered when he entered the room. He actually stopped and said “Wow look at this wonderful reception! You didn’t have to make me feel that good. I need to walk in again. You are incredible!” Vin did comment about how he’s excited for this tour since he gets to have fun and be goofy! He doesn’t have to worry about playing the tough action guy role. He can just be his silly fun loving self.
So naturally the interview was off to a great start! Vin was all about having a good time and an enjoyable conversation with us bloggers. Many of us wore GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY themed shirts to this press junket. It wasn’t long before Vin noticed a fellow blogger wearing a Groot shirt. His face just lit up! I think from his reception into the room he could tell many of us were fans of the movie. Soon it was the interviewee who turned into the interviewer when he asked the room what we loved about Groot. I know I replied with “He’s adorable!” while I heard others mention how sweet and kind he is, as well as how loyal and how he is a good friend to others.
Now if you know nothing about Groot, let me tell you two quick facts. He’s a tree, and he famously only speaks three words: I am Groot. We just had to know what attracted Vin to the role of Groot.
Vin gave credit to his Facebook fans for manifesting the union between him and Marvel. He noted that the production for FAST & FURIOUS 7 was taking longer than expected, and he didn’t really think he had time to take on a 6 month role. He noted that the persistence of social media is what forces him (and others) at times to be really creative. Both him and Kevin Feige, President of Marvel, were at Comic Con at the same time. People were asking what was the connection between Marvel and Vin. It was then that Kevin decided to offer Vin the role of Groot and sent over a book of conceptional art…
VIN: It was the first time that I had ever seen what they (Marvel) were doing with Groot. It is not like anything you have ever seen in any of the comic books. It’s an original Groot. I went into the living room, and the kids were there. I opened up the book, and it was a double-truck picture with all of the characters. I said to the kids, “What character do you think they want Daddy to play?” I asked them and they answered in seconds. I was praying that they would lead me in feeling good about this role. They all pointed to Groot, and they thought Groot was cool!
VIN: It’s been really special. I do movies that are not necessarily for kids. To do this movie and to be able to share this with the little ones, for them to be so excited about it and so proud of it, and to think of trees differently. They will never look at a tree the same way. No one will, after this.
Did you have any influence working with the FX production staff in the way that Groot moves?
VIN: (In the recording booth) I really kept it about being this towering kind of innocent character. The innocence of the character is what’s so attractive. It was my idea to go above and beyond. I guess people were like, “Damn, this guy’s taking this serious. It’s only three words, dude.” Literally I have worked more days on this than I have words. It’s surreal.
Who do you feel as though you had the most chemistry with, and who was the biggest prankster?
VIN: I’m always a prankster! The irony is, I wasn’t on set. I was in the recording booth, which is another fun thing about this character. There is so much work they were putting into creating this character in the CGI space. I was always a fan of what Andy Serkis was doing for Tolkien (LORD OF THE RINGS movie series) and for PLANT OF THE APES.
I always loved the idea of doing some kind of performance art. I started doing a version of performance art, back when breakdancing started in the 80s. It was only performance art. In New York City, when somebody would walk by and see me dancing on the corner, with the crowd around, I’d hand my hat out. I was that dude. Can you believe that? Literally, if it was the 80s, I’d be dancing for you right now! I would take my hat off and say something cute like, “I take credit cards too.” The performance art part of it is so fun and so challenging. I imagine as this series grows and continues, there’s going to be a lot of opportunity to do the performance art for this character.
(In reference to chemistry) I know a lot of people from the movie. I know Zoe Saldana, as I did a show called “The Ropes,” which was a webisode series, and she directed one of the episodes for me. We wanted this kind of multicultural, feminine voice on it. She did such a great job with it. She’s a friend of the family.Of course Dave Bautista was in RIDDICK, so I’d already worked with him. I think when I watched the movie, the fun, the chemistry that’s really fun for me, is seeing Rocket and Groot go back and forth. That just feels delicious, it feels fun, and it feels like…we know we’re going to see more of them!
So what’s next for Vin? He is about to start filming a movie called THE LAST WITCH HUNTER, which is about a 700-year old New Yorker. I could tell that Vin is very excited about the project, especially since they just cast legendary actor Michael Caine! Vin noted it’s always a big deal for him when he works with people he’s been such fans with for so long. He gave the examples of when he worked with Dame Judi Dench on RIDDICK and the late Sidney Lumet for FIND ME GUILTY. You could definitely tell he was eager to get the cameras rolling on this project as he spoke with such excitement about the film.
After the interview Vin was generous to take a photo with the whole group! While we walked out into the hallway to take the photo, somehow a dance party broke out as we all sung along to HOOKED ON A FEELING! Again… this man has MOVES! Have you seen his video channel? I can’t tell you how fun, energetic, and personable Vin really is! The man had us laughing, dancing, and what a sweet genuine man. I honestly have to say I think this was one of my top favorite celebrity interviews ever in my career. My favorite part absolutely was hearing him talk so passionately about a character
So how awesome is Vin? As he walked away from the interview, he yelled out:
You know mommies are the first super heroes!
Gotta love a man who respects the mommas!
Don’t forget to connect with GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY on Facebook and Twitter! Be sure to check out my tutorials for homemade galaxy playdough and for Galactic Space Art both inspired by the film’s upcoming release.
This film hits theaters August 1st!
I received the following information as a blogger via Walt Disney Publications. While I attended an expense paid trip by Disney to the press events for Guardians of the Galaxy, 100 Foot Journey, and ABC Family, all opinions are 100% my own. Movie stills provided by Walt Disney Pictures.