Guardians of the Galaxy was considered a risky proposition for Marvel Studios, even after the runaway success of their cinematic universe building films like Iron Man and The Avengers. These characters hang around in outer space! There are aliens on the team! There's a talking raccoon! So it was nothing short of incredible when Guardians of the Galaxy earned nearly $800 million and a 91% on Rotten Tomatoes. A big part of James Gunn's action-comedy masterpiece depends upon the charisma of Chris Pratt, who leads the team as Peter Quill, the film's relatable half-earthling who rocks badass tunes in his headphones while kicking ass as Star-Lord. But it almost didn't happen that way. As there were plenty of other big names vying for the coveted role.
It may seem crazy to think about now, but at the time, Pratt was mostly known as lovable doofus and Mouse Rat frontman Andy Dwyer on NBC's Parks and Recreation. Marvel took quite a gamble on the actor, whose commitment to the role was so full-on, he even got into action hero shape. There were of course dozens of actors lining up for Guardians of the Galaxy. And here, we're looking at what might have been, and almost was in terms of having a completely different Star-Lord in the movie.
While most movie news sites were focused on the casting underway for the newly reinvigorated Star Wars franchise, prequel veteran Joel Edgerton, who co-starred with Chris Pratt in Zero Dark Thirty, was on the shortlist for Star-Lord. His name was included in a Deadline report listing various actors thought to be screen testing.
Jack Huston was also on that list. The acclaimed actor is no stranger to wearing a mask, having risen to prominence by haunted World War I veteran turned organized crime sniper Richard Harrow on Boardwalk Empire. The English actor did land the lead role in another comic book film, a proposed reboot of The Crow. He left the long in development project in 2015, chalking it up to scheduling conflicts.
The man who was sort of Robin in The Dark Knight Rises is said to have auditioned and screen tested for Star-Lord. Several reports suggest that Ant-Man came down to Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Paul Rudd, so we know he's somebody Marvel continues to think about.
Cloud Atlas star Jim Sturgess made it far enough to undergo a costume fitting. In an interview with MTV News, after it was all said and done, he spoken candidly about his brush with Star-Lord. "I got way further than I'd ever imagined I possibly could," he said. "It's set in a total fantasy landscape, which was intriguing to me," he added.
Eddie Redmayne went from starring opposite Michelle Williams in My Week with Marilyn to suddenly having his name thrown around for not one but two different Marvel comic book roles. His name appeared on the shortlist of actors said to be testing for Guardians of the Galaxy, as well as in casting reports about potential actors for supporting roles in Sony's sequel to The Amazing Spider-Man. In 2015, he told The Sun, "I am an absolute geek. I have auditioned for many of those roles."
Garrett Hedlund already had one major franchise under his belt with Disney after starring in Tron: Legacy, the sequel to the ground breaking 1982 video game movie. He's reportedly one of the many actors who met with Marvel about playing Star-Lord.
From the blues of Tron to the blues of crystal meth! Breaking Bad badass Aaron Paul was one of the actors who auditioned and screen tested for Guardians of the Galaxy, according to Teen.com. It seems like he has to join the MCU eventually, right?
Lee Pace spent a lot of time in the makeup chair to play a Middle Earth monarch in The Hobbit films and as Kree meanie Ronan the Accuser in the first Guardians movie. But he initially auditioned for the mostly makeup free role of Peter Quill. It's not unlike the Dark Night trilogy's Cillian Murphy, who first auditioned to play Batman.
Two-time MTV Movie Award nominee Cam Gigandet was another guy in the running. He would've put those Never Back Down and Twilight fighting skills to use.
If he'd won the part of Star-Lord, Australian actor Sullivan Stapleton could have put it next to 300: Rise of an Empire on his resume, making him a two-time comic movie actor.
Chris Pratt wasn't the only comedic actor looking to make the jump from a mockumentary style NBC hit to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. John Krasinski, best known as Jim from The Office, was close to landing the role of Captain America. He also auditioned and screen tested for Peter Quill in Guardians of the Galaxy.
Michael Rosenbaum was another actor looking to make the transition from the small screen to the big screen. If he'd gotten the Star-Lord role, that may have eventually eclipsed his much beloved portrayal of Lex Luthor on TV's Smallville.
Speaking of Smallville, Jensen Ackles tried out for Star-Lord, too. No stranger to sci-fi, the Dark Angel actor is of course best known for the long-running Supernatural.
In an interview with MTV News, Veronica Mars star Chris Lowell admitted that Marvel made the right choice with Chris Pratt, but that doesn't mean he didn't have fun. "I just remember getting the audition and being like, 'Okay, I'm talking to a raccoon with a gun, and a tree. Alright. I better not be getting punked! Let's go.'"
Wes Bentley made it to movie outer space eventually, though Peter Quill certainly had more fun than Bentley's character in Interstellar. The Hunger Games and American Beauty star was another actor who reportedly screen tested for Star-Lord.
Prometheus star Logan Marshall-Green didn't get the Star-Lord gig but he did find his way into the MCU eventually. The Tom Hardy lookalike was cast as Spidey villain The Shocker in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Well, he was (spoiler!) the first Shocker.
James Marsden would have graduated from the Fox led version of the Marvel Universe, that stars only X-Men related characters to the greater MCU, had he landed the role of Star-Lord. If it's any consolation, X-Men: Days of Future Past reset the continuity in a way that brought his Scott Summers back to life, after his Cyclops met a stupidly unnecessary end in Brett Ratner's awful X-Men: The Last Stand.
Entertainment Weekly got the scoop on Glenn Howerton's brush with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. During interviews for an in-depth cover story on Chris Pratt, director James Gunn revealed the following: "Glenn came along a little bit later, he said of the It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia star. "But there was a good chance that, if I didn't cast Chris, that I would've cast Glenn Howerton in the role."