James Gunn Opens Up About ‘Magical World’ That Helped Him Escape Childhood Thoughts of Suicide

“Guardians of the Galaxy” writer-director shares the boyhood realization that “someone out there was as weird and strange and whacked out as I was”

Last Updated: May 7, 2017 @ 1:22 PM

With “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” on track to a massive opening weekend of $140 million, writer-director James Gunn turned to Facebook to not only voice his appreciation for the fans, but also to reveal how Marvel comics and science fiction became escapism for a childhood that included thoughts of suicide.

“When I was young I felt utterly alone, at times to the point of suicidal thoughts,” he wrote.

“I never felt like I belonged, had an incredibly difficult time connecting to other people and, despite having love around me, I had an impossible time experiencing it, or taking it in.

“But I found my respite in popular entertainment — Marvel comics, science fiction and horror films, the music of The Sex Pistols, The Replacements, and Queen. Suddenly I could see past the bland suburbs where I lived into a more magical world, a world more aligned with what I imagined. Sometimes these works were simply escapist fantasies that distracted me from the difficulties of my internal life,” he continued.

“But other times, in the strongest moments — maybe through the words of Alice Cooper or Freddie Mercury, through Cronenberg films, or even in Chewbacca’s growl, I experienced something deeper — the realization that I wasn’t completely alone,” he added. “Someone out there was as weird and strange and whacked out as I was.”

Yes, the box office success pays his mortgage and feeds his animals, but Gunn says that telling stories and connecting with people through his films is what drives him.

“I do it so that some kid in Thailand, or England, or Colombia, or Brazil, or Japan, or Russia, or anywhere, can hear the frequency of his or her own heart bouncing back off the Guardians,” Gunn wrote.

“They’re a group of heartbroken misfits whose lives have been bereft of tenderness and connection and who have a nearly impossible time trusting themselves or others. But they’re learning, one step at a time.

“They are me. They are you. We are Groot.”

Read Gunn’s complete message to fans below:

I’ve spent the past two and a half years making a film – probably a good 95% of my non-sleeping life during that time – and sometimes it seems it all comes down to these few weeks of release in theaters. Let me tell you, it’s harrowing.

The movie is doing incredibly all over the world – up nearly fifty percent over the first film in most territories, and a breakout hit in countries where it didn’t do as well the first time around (hi, Korea!)

I’m exceptionally proud of how well it’s doing in the countries I’ve visited and where I’ve made many friends the past few years – Thailand, Brazil, Colombia, Russia, the UK. You’ve all welcomed me into your countries and I’m a better person for my interactions with you.

So, as we open up around the world, I would be lying if I said I don’t get distracted by the numbers. The first thing I do in the morning is roll over in bed and check my phone for the morning box office reports.

But, in the end, it’s not what matters to me. I write this now to let you know, but also to remind myself. Because I’m human and I sometimes forget.

When I was young I felt utterly alone, at times to the point of suicidal thoughts. I never felt like I belonged, had an incredibly difficult time connecting to other people and, despite having love around me, I had an impossible time experiencing it, or taking it in.

But I found my respite in popular entertainment – Marvel comics, science fiction and horror films, the music of The Sex Pistols, The Replacements, and Queen. Suddenly I could see past the bland suburbs where I lived into a more magical world, a world more aligned with what I imagined. Sometimes these works were simply escapist fantasies that distracted me from the difficulties of my internal life. But other times, in the strongest moments – maybe through the words of Alice Cooper or Freddie Mercury, through Cronenberg films, or even in Chewbacca’s growl, I experienced something deeper – the realization that I wasn’t completely alone. Someone out there was as weird and strange and whacked out as I was.

So this morning, as the internet discusses box office and its many theories around what that means (zzzzzzzz), I’d like to remember that that’s truly all nonsense and noise. The only meaning the money holds for me is that I can pay my mortgage, feed my dog and cat, and continue making movies. I haven’t worked two and a half years just to watch a string of numbers getting higher.

I work because I like telling stories. I work because I love the relationships I have with my collaborators. And I do it because I like connecting with people, and the easiest way I know how to do that is through filmmaking. I do it so that some kid in Thailand, or England, or Colombia, or Brazil, or Japan, or Russia, or anywhere, can hear the frequency of his or her own heart bouncing back off the Guardians.

They’re a group of heartbroken misfits whose lives have been bereft of tenderness and connection and who have a nearly impossible time trusting themselves or others. But they’re learning, one step at a time.

They are me. They are you. We are Groot.

And no matter how much world leaders are telling you we aren’t in this together, we are. You are not alone.

Thank you so much, my Facebook friends, for supporting me over the past two and a half years, and thank you for all the messages letting us know we’ve keyed into the frequency of your hearts. I love you all, and I’ll continue being here with you over the next three years as we create Vol. 3.
❤️

James

PS Still blocking spoilers. Sorry.

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