[Guardians of the Galaxy](movie:424073) has hit Blu-Ray and DVD this week, and fans couldn't be happier. Marvel Studios is celebrating as well, seeing as how a ragtag team of a thief, an assassin, a maniac, and a talking raccoon bounty hunter (with his vocabulary-challenged walking tree partner) turned a serious profit, grossing over $200 million in just 10 days, which it seems poised to continue on home video. The selling point for the film was how perfect the cast was and how well they complimented each other.
But before the cast as we know it was locked in, we almost got a completely different line-up than what appeared in the final film:
Lee Pace as Peter Quill/ Star-Lord
Lee Pace (known to most as Legolas' father Thranduil in The Hobbit trilogy) was one of a slew of actors who auditioned and were screen-tested for the role of Peter Quill A.K.A. Star-Lord. While he impressed the execs, Chris Pratt's audition instantly sold director James Gunn that he was perfect for the part. But Pace's lasting impression led to his casting as the film's antagonist, Ronan the Accuser.
Pace would have played a very different Star-Lord, had he actually been cast. His humor is played more serious and darkly than Pratt's, and likely would have altered the tone of most, if not all, of the film. It would've worked, just not as perfectly as the final result.
Gina Carano as Gamora
Former MMA fighter Gina Carano has been making a name for herself as the newest action girl on the block, with starring roles in Haywire and Fast & Furious 6. Before that though, she was among the top candidates to land the role of Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy before Zoe Saldana was cast.
Of the actors in contention for the part, Carano was ahead of the pack as far as physical ability; having a 7-1 fight record in MMA. Around the time the film was casting, Carano had only starred in one film in a leading role, so her acting chops and ability to gel with an ensemble were more than likely the main reasons she didn't get the role. Still, it would have been awesome to see her kicking ass all over Ronan's goons!
Jason Momoa as Drax the Destroyer
Unlike the other actors on this list, Jason Momoa was actually offered the role of Drax the Destroyer after an impressive audition. Ultimately, he chose to pass on the part, explaining:
"It's not that it's not a good role, it just wasn't the right thing. I was on 'Stargate: Atlantis' for four years playing a similar character called Ronon, who was an alien who didn't say much and grunted. I've been there and done that, whether people have seen it or not. You want to stretch."
Many people were disappointed that he chose not to pursue the role, but you have to respect his reasons for not wanting to be typecast. The man clearly wanted his career to go in another direction after playing the same brutish characters in Stargate: Atlantis, Conan the Barbarian, and Game of Thrones. One can only imagine how different the role might have turned out had he decided to stay on board.
H. Jon Benjamin as Rocket Raccoon
H. Jon Benjamin is well-known for his comedic voice-over work as the titular characters on Archer and Bob's Burgers, and was also one of the final contenders for the role of Rocket Raccoon in Guardians, alongside Jim Carrey and Adam Samdler, David Tennant and Sharlto Copely.
Of those choices, Benjamin seemed a shoe-in for the role owing to his turn as the egotistical, snarky secret agent, Sterling Archer. It was that same snark and comedic talent that would have made him a perfect fit for Rocket; albeit a more harsh portrayal than Bradley Cooper ended up delivering. But, just imaging Sterling Archer's voice coming out of Rocket Raccoon's mouth almost makes you cry with thoughts of what could have been...
Looking at these near-casting choices for the film makes you look at the final result in a completely different light. That fact hardly gets attention, but the actors cast in a role have just as much an outcome on the tone and feel of a film just as much as the director and/or screenwriter does. The cast that James Gunn and Marvel Studios ended up going with was top notch, and just worked perfectly. We honestly wouldn't have the movie that we do without them. This just goes to show you how, in the world of movie making, you never really know just how different things could have been...or how close we often come to witnessing a complete and utter disaster.