How Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 de-aged Kurt Russell back to his Used Cars prime

Marvel has a history of de-ageing its stars on screen. We got a young Michael Douglas in ‘Ant-Man’, a teenage Robert Downey Jr. in ‘Captain America: Civil War’, and now 66-year-old Kurt Russell has been restored to former glory in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’.

James Gunn’s sequel opens with a young Ego (Russell) wooing Peter Quill’s mother (Laura Haddock) on Earth. It’s the holy union that eventually sires a young Star-Lord, and the effect of seeing a 1980-era Kurt Russell is genuinely impressive.

Russell told Yahoo Movies that the effect owes more to his long-time makeup man Dennis Ledger than it does CGI.

“Dennis Ledger said to these guys ‘I can age him down, kinda shockingly so.'” Russell, who first worked with Ledger on ‘Tango and Cash’ and has since done 28 more movies together, explained.

“He said, ‘I gotta lot tricks in my bag too. I know that you’re thinking of CGI and I know there’s going to be some of that involved…’, so they said ‘Anything you can do to help in that regard would be great.'”

Kurt Russell played devious salesman Rudy Russo in Bob Zemeckis' 1980 satire 'Used Cars' (Rex Features)
Kurt Russell played devious salesman Rudy Russo in Bob Zemeckis’ 1980 satire ‘Used Cars’ (Rex Features)

Director James Gunn credits visual effects house Luma Pictures with the CGI wizardry that “youthified” Ego’s face back to a specific point in Kurt Russell’s past – 1980, to be precise, when the actor was a sprightly 29.

“We used [Kurt Russell] from ‘Used Car’ era,” Gunn explained. “He’s a bit older than Meredith Quill at the beginning of the movie.”

Russell adds that part of the de-ageing process relies on his skills as an actor too.

Kurt Russell plays Star-Lord's estranged father Ego in 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2' (Disney)
Kurt Russell plays Star-Lord’s estranged father Ego in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ (Disney)

“You’ve got to give the actor the opportunity to just play young in that regard,” Russell said. “It’s very hard to do but it’s a lot of fun, and when you see the result I think it’s a lot more natural.”

California and Australia-based Luma Pictures have collaborated with Marvel on a number of releases including all three ‘Captain America’ movies, ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’, and ‘Doctor Strange’.

‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ is in cinemas now.

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