Perhaps the best part of Gunn letting his actors really dig into their characters and indulge their ideas is that he also knows how that plays into the feature as a whole. While filming “Slither,” Fillion thought that his character was kind of a jokester, wise-cracking in dire moments. Instead, Pardy is the straight man to everyone else’s lunacy, and his quips ended up cementing his relatable everyman nature. Fillion remembered talking about filming with his friends while playing video games (he’s a “Halo” fan!) and how much fun he had kicking around his own character:
“I think it’s really great to kick the piss out of your own character, and everybody was doing it. I thought to myself, ‘We’re making a very funny movie, I’ve got a very funny character. We seem to be making a lot of jokes,’ yet in seeing the movie I discovered I was the straight man and I just didn’t know it. I think that’s brilliant and I think that’s James Gunn. That’s the story, that’s the idea, that’s the tone and I think that’s what he created.”
Gunn has since gone on to direct all kinds of movies, including the more family-friendly “Guardians of the Galaxy” films for Marvel and “The Suicide Squad” for DC, but his directing sensibilities have stayed the same. His actors are encouraged to dig deep into their characters and express themselves, and he seems to view filmmaking as a true collaborative effort. There’s a warm, squishy heart at the center of almost everything Gunn makes, and the way he works with his actors probably has something to do with it.