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Sean Gunn Describes Kraglin and Cosmo the Dog as Frenemies

May 2, 2023


Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is the final installment of the trilogy that director/writer James Gunn started when he introduced this band of misfits who found family amongst each other, saving the world for humans and creatures alike. This time around, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), aka Star-Lord, struggles to deal with a Gamora (Zoe Saldana) that is alive but doesn’t know who he is while also trying to save the life of his best friend Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and being forced to face his own past that he left behind before heading out into the larger galaxy.

During this 1-on-1 interview with Collider, Sean Gunn (who not only plays Kraglin, Yondu’s former first mate and now official member of the Guardians, but who also does the motion capture work for Rocket) talked about the confidence he always had in his brother James Gunn’s vision, the perfect storm that led to the success of this trilogy, how Kraglin feels about the unhinged characters they’re facing, what defines a superhero for Kraglin, mastering the Yaka arrow, the bond with Cosmo, and what it felt like to wrap up this story arc.

Collider: There was much laughter and tears, watching this third installment of Guardians of the Galaxy, as expected. So, thank you for that.

SEAN GUNN: Oh, yeah, sure. You and me both.

When you join the MCU, is there a point when they teach you a secret handshake or give you a special password, so that you only say spoilery things to those people who know the handshake or password?

GUNN: When you’re done with your first movie, they’re like, “Hey, this means you, when we say, ‘No spoilers.’” I don’t know. Do you have information about a secret handshake, that I don’t know about?

Image via Marvel Studios

When your brother first came to you with his vision for Guardians of the Galaxy, however many years ago that was, did you always see what he and Marvel were going for, from day one? Were you ever concerned that it was crazy and it wouldn’t work, or did you see all of this as a possibility?

GUNN: I don’t know if this is a fun answer or not, but I feel like I was less worried about the success of this movie than just about anybody in the world, when we first started, because I knew my brother, and I knew his work, and I just understood, from the beginning, that he was cut out for this. I thought, “This is something that James will eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner, until it’s right.” You never know. You can never predict the success of something. I didn’t know for sure that it was gonna be a big box office hit, but I knew that it was gonna be a cool story that was well told, and that he would find that. So, I do think that the whole idea that it was this big vision, and he knew at least a lot of the points of the arc of all three movies, before he even started, wasn’t surprising to me because I know James, and that’s what he does. I definitely feel like it was then, for me, to get my box of popcorn and sit in the row and watch the whole thing, and then jump in when I needed to jump in. That was the coolest part of the process.

That’s why I was curious about your take on it all, as somebody that knows him better than anyone other than maybe him, especially when nobody knew what the galaxy of it all was going to be because they hadn’t seen this part of Marvel before.

GUNN: Yeah, and a lot of people were like, “A talking tree and a talking raccoon? You can’t spell box office poison more than that.” It just seemed like there was no way it was gonna work. But yeah, I knew James would make it work. I really did. I knew that he would make it work within whatever parameters he was given. And then, the great news is that Kevin Feige, Lou [D’Esposito] and Victoria [Alonso] are really smart people, and their parameters smart and loose. They let the story become what it needed to be because they know what they’re doing, as well. It really was a perfect storm of smart, creative people, trying to make something work.

Image via Alex J. Berliner/ABImages

In this movie, Kraglin is having to deal with these unhinged characters, with both Adam Warlock and the High Evolutionary. How does he feel about all of that craziness? What is his impression of those guys?

GUNN: Oh, gosh. Kraglin has seen it all. There’s a moment at the end of Guardians 1, where Yondu (Michael Rooker) says to Kraglin, “It’s probably a good idea that we didn’t give Quill back to his dad.” And Kraglin says, “Yeah, that guy is jackass.” We know, from way back then, that Kraglin knows who Ego is and what a nutjob he was. And we know that the Ravagers have been all over the galaxy doing all kinds of chicanery, shenanigans, tomfoolery, and all the greatest words in the English language. They’ve been getting their hands into all that stuff, so I don’t think that any of this stuff is super weird to Kraglin. He has his code of, “This is what’s right, and this is what’s wrong, and this is what we’re doing,” but I don’t think any of it is weird to him. I really don’t, for someone like him.

What defines a superhero for Kraglin? Is it someone that saves the most people, or is it someone who has the confidence of a hero?

GUNN: That’s really part of what Kraglin’s journey is, over the course of all the movies, but really the third movie. It’s about discovering, what is a hero? When we see him, at the beginning of the movie, picking up where we left off with the arrow, he’s just not getting it right and he can’t do it, and it’s because he wants to do it right. He’s like, “I’m a soldier. I need to do it right. Why can’t I do it right?” And that’s not what being a hero is about. It’s not what being a master of the Yaka arrow is about. You can’t do that just by trying to read the rules, and cross your T’s and dot Your I’s. You have to learn about something bigger than that, in order to make it work. And that’s what we see Kraglin really trying to do, over the course of this movie.

Would he have just kept trying until he got it right, however long that took?

GUNN: Probably. I think we know that he’s embarrassed by it. Maybe privately in his room at night, he’d just keep trying and trying. We know he’s a soldier and that his code is incredibly important to him. So, yeah, I think he probably would just keep trying.

Image via Marvel Studios

Clearly there’s a bond between him and Cosmo. How would you describe their relationship, and why is it so important to him not to give in?

GUNN: That’s a good question. I like describing Kraglin and Cosmo as frenemies, but I think that Kraglin really loves Cosmo. He won’t give in about calling her a bad dog because he knows that he’s got her. Kraglin is being a little bit of a jerk, in those scenes with Cosmo, let’s be frank. He knows, “I’ve got her. She won’t let up, until we’re able to put this together.” It lives in some weird Venn diagram between friends communicating with one another, and pets and their caretakers communicating with one another. It lives somewhere in that world between the two, which is a fun place to explore.

Are you hoping that we’ll see Kraglin again somewhere, at some point? He seems like one of those characters that could really pop up anywhere, to either help or annoy anybody, at any point.

GUNN: Are you offering me a job? I’m curious about what’s next. I don’t know. I’ve definitely felt that there is a certain type of finality to completing this trilogy, which is really gratifying and really bittersweet and really lovely, in all of its ways. But also, I don’t have any closed doors, in terms of my future. I feel close to these characters, so there’s always room to see what else could happen.

Even if you do pop up again, or you reunite in some way, with some of these actors and characters, it’s not going to be the same. What was it like on that last day that everyone, or most everyone, was on set together?

GUNN: It’s certainly sad, in its own right, because I love them. They’re awesome people, and I love everyone that I’ve worked with on these movies. It’s not only part of what makes it special, it’s the number one thing that makes it special for me, which is working with people that I love and respect. But I also know that part of the process, when you’re creating something and telling a story, such an important and vital part of that is actually telling it, which means finishing it and giving it to an audience. Without that part of it, we don’t have any of the rest of it, so there has to be a finality to it, in a sense. That part, I just try to feel grateful for and I try to live inside that part of it. Right now, that’s what we’re doing. We’re sharing it with an audience and hoping that they like it.

Image via Marvel Studios

You’ve talked about Kraglin’s journey and figuring out where he belongs. Would you say, by the end of this film and the end of this trilogy of films, that he is much more centered in who he is, what he brings to this team, and how he belongs?

GUNN: Oh, I think there’s no question about that, really. Without going too far into spoiling anything, just watch the first scene that we see Kraglin in, in the first movie, and then watch the last scene that we see Kraglin in, in the last movie, and to say that he’s had one heck of an arc would be quite an understatement.

It feels like you would never have known where he could get to.

GUNN: Oh, my gosh, yeah. Absolutely not. Honestly, I didn’t even really know who Kraglin was until I saw the first movie. We didn’t quite get it. We knew that there were different directions that character could go, but it wasn’t until I watched the first movie that I really understood who he was, which is one of the really lovely things about doing a franchise and having it turn out to be a trilogy. You get more bites at the apple. You get to learn who they are, and then also continue to explore them, which is really a cool part of it.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is in theaters on May 5th.

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