Gunn is approaching the end of his tenure with Marvel Studios as he takes over the position of DC Studios co-CEO, although he leaves Marvel after working with countless incredible actors on his intergalactic trilogy. He's also never been shy about praising his stars, who have taken some of the most obscure Marvel heroes in history from unknowns into household names since 2014.
After Gunn's most recent effort for the MCU, The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special on Disney+, he heaped praise on Pom Klementieff and Dave Bautista after fans saw "how talented those two actors are" in their roles as Mantis and Drax.
And now, as the promotional tour for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 gets underway, Gunn has taken to social media once more to commend an actor who surpasses anything he's seen in his MCU films, seemingly overtaking one of his favorite DC actors.
James Gunn Praises Best Marvel Actor He's Collabed With
Responding to a fan comment on Twitter, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 director James Gunn praised High Evolutionary actor Chukwudi Iwuji as the best actor he's ever worked with.
Gunn lauded Iwuji on social media when he was asked why the High Evolutionary was "another race-swapped villain:"
"Because Chuk is the best actor I’ve ever worked with, that’s why. Has zero to do with race."
Previously, James Gunn praised The Suicide Squad's Margot Robbie as "bar none" the best actor he had ever worked with. It seems that Iwuji has now snatched this spot in the director's eyes.
While working together on Peacemaker for Warner Bros. in November 2021, Gunn confirmed Iwuji's then-undisclosed role in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, sharing his admiration for Iwuji as an actor by casting him in a highly-coveted role:
“Chuk has indeed joined the cast. After working with him on Peacemaker I wasn’t about to let go of one of the best actors I’ve ever worked with - so I gave him the role most every big name actor in Hollywood wanted.”
In June 2022, the director teased what fans can expect from Iwuji in this movie, calling the actor's performance "truly explosive" as he portrays the main antagonist:
“Wait till you see Chuk murder it in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 with a truly explosive performance.”
During another chat with CNET’s I’m So Obsessed podcast in January 2022, Iquji explained that Gunn had come to him to offer the role in Guardians 3 while they were rehearsing the opening dance sequence for DC's Peacemaker. Hilariously, upon that approach, Iwuji joked with the filmmaker by saying “this is when you tell me you actually had meant to hire Chiwetel Ejiofor," although Gunn made it clear that Iwuji was the one he wanted.
Looking into his process, Iwuji explained that he wanted to ensure that in playing the High Evolutionary, he could "ground him in someone human" even while portraying such a powerful cosmic being:
“I’m not competing with anyone but, in many ways, myself. By that point, me and him [Gunn] had thrown ideas back and forth, because he really wanted this character grounded. He said, ’The reason is I want you to ground this. And I want your imagination. I want you to ground him in someone human.’”
Iwuji Impressing Gunn with Marvel Studios Role
Chukwudi Iwuji's work with James Gunn goes back over the past couple of years to his time playing Clemson Murn in Peacemaker, where he seemed to leave an indelible mark on Gunn with his performance in a fairly pivotal role. And although his role in that project is far different from the High Evolutionary, Gunn was unquestionably impressed by what he saw, as he continues to hype up Iwuji's role in Guardians 3.
Fans got the first look at Iwuji's High Evolutionary during the first full trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, showing how menacing and brilliant the character is while teasing his ruthless nature as well. Of course, the man behind Rocket Raccoon's traumatic backstory was going to be a power player no matter what, although Iwuji seems to bring a different level of excellence thanks to his work in the role.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will debut in theaters on May 5, 2023.