James Gunn, filmmaker behind Marvel Studios Guardians of the Galaxy films, is finally ready to talk about his firing and subsequent rehiring by Disney.
He dives deep in a chat with Deadline, sharing just how intense that first day post-House of Mouse was for him, comparing it to moments of extreme loss and duress from earlier in his life.
"That first day… I'm going to say it was the most intense of my entire life," Gunn said. "There have been other difficult days in my life, from the time I got sober when I was younger, to the death of friends who committed suicide. But this was incredibly intense. It happened, and suddenly it seemed like everything was gone. I just knew, in a moment that happened incredibly quickly, I had been fired. It felt as if my career was over."
He continued, describing the outpouring of support from his Guardians cast and crew, and a more personal reveal of his love and drive.
"I think the one thing that is the most important for me from that day is this: I'm like a lot of people who come out here and want to be rich and famous, to have people love them. I am an artist first and foremost; I love telling stories, I love interacting with my characters, I love designing sets. But I'm also a guy who found what I thought was love, through people loving me, and through my work.
My apparatus for being loved was my work, and being famous. I had never really experienced before that feeling of being loved so deeply. It has been a problem for me in relationships, in friendships; I can experience loving another person but I have a very difficult time experiencing being loved. In that moment, the apparatus which was my only hope for feeling love was torn away from me and I had absolutely nothing. I didn't know what I was supposed to do. Should I be locked away?
And then came this outpouring of real love. From my girlfriend Jen; my producer and my agents; Chris Pratt calling me and freaking out; Zoe Saldana and Karen Gillan, all calling and crying. Sylvester Stallone FaceTime-ing me. And, of course, Dave Bautista, who came out so strong. That amount of love that I felt from my friends, my family, and the people in the community was absolutely overwhelming. In order for me to have fully felt that love for the first time, the thing that needed to happen was the apparatus by which I was feeling falsely loved had to be completely taken away.
So a part of that day was the worst of my life, and a part of it was the greatest day of my life. I certainly haven't been perfect in my spiritual journeys since that time, but I have been better.
That first couple weeks, I completely stayed off social media. I just completely disconnected from all of that. It was hard as hell and I was really living minute-to-minute, but it was also rewarding, in being able to see life from a different perspective."
Gunn also touched on the day the news of his firing came out, which for those of you who don't remember was right in the middle of San Diego Comic Con [SDCC], and how quickly the phone started ringing.
"Jason Blum was doing a [San Diego Comic-Con] panel when the announcement happened and he said, 'I'd hire James Gunn right now.'
At the same time, I didn't know what I believed. The news that I was hired back, it was a big story for a day and then it's done. When all this happened, it went for days and days and days. As much as I wasn't reading the news, I was feeling the shrapnel constantly through all of the texts and calls from my friends and family who were so upset at this or that. I finally had to be like, 'Guys, I can't focus on all the negative stuff right now, it just hurts me.'
The studios, for the most part, said, 'We'd love to have you.' They called within the first two days. But I didn't believe it. That's the thing that I have to be honest about. On some theoretical level, I was like, 'Well, maybe I do have a future.' I'm a fairly logic-oriented person and that helped, but emotionally, there was not a whole lot there to hold onto. That was good for me, too, because what I needed to do was stop making my career be what makes me worthwhile and start making me just be OK as myself. That is what I concentrated on. I concentrated on the fun.
The Suicide Squad sequel, it just instantly started flowing. I don't think I've had as much fun writing a script since maybe Dawn of the Dead. That's what this whole movie has been like."
Interesting to see there that Gunn calls his written-and-directed The Suicide Squad film for Warner Bros. Pictures a sequel, when no one from that studio can decide if that's what it actually is. It does have a current release date of August 6th 2021.
In anycase, we are so thrilled to have Gunn back in the House of Mouse to complete the stories of those Guardians of the Galaxy, which could be any number of those 8 Marvel Studios release dates Disney announced. We'll let you know what we hear.