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GotG Holiday Special Turns the Old 97’s Into an Alien Rock Band

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The Old 97’s suit up as rock n’ roll aliens in The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special.

The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special writer-director James Gunn discussed the Old 97’s’ role during an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, which also shared a behind-the-scenes photo featuring band members Rhett Miller, Murry Hammond, Ken Bethea and Philip Peeples in their costumes and alien prosthetics.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Old 97's
Jessica Miglio

“They’ve been my favorite band since the ’90s, and I’ve seen them in concert a billion times,” Gunn said of the Old 97’s. “I met [lead vocalist] Rhett Miller in 2005 because I put an Old 97’s song at the end of Slither, my first movie. It plays over the end credits, and Rhett and I have stayed in touch ever since then. And so I started writing this song for the beginning [of the special], ‘I Don’t Know What Christmas Is (But Christmastime Is Here).’ So I had all these lyrics for it, and it kept changing. I walked around my house, singing into my iPhone and trying to figure out how the song was going to work. And finally, I approached Rhett and asked, ‘Will you help me write this song? Because I can’t do it by myself.’ And he said, ‘Absolutely.’ And so we started sending tons of recordings and lyrics back and forth, and we wrote that song together.”

The director continued, “And after we wrote that song, I was like, ‘Why don’t you guys play this alien band? Why don’t you come on set and act?’ And he was like, ‘Okay.’ And then we took a previous song that they had recorded, and they re-recorded it with Kevin Bacon for the end of the show. So Rhett had to act, and he’s never really acted before. He said, ‘I’m really nervous about it. I don’t know what to do.’ So I said, ‘This is like when I saw the Doobie Brothers on What’s Happening!! when I was a kid. They were terrible actors, but that almost added to the charm. So if you’re a terrible actor, it’s going to be just fine. I don’t care if you’re a terrible actor.’ And instead, he was great. He’s great in the role. So the whole thing was really a joy.”

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Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree

When asked if the band could still actually play while wearing their heavy costumes and prosthetics, Gunn said, “Yeah, they totally played. It was amazing. These guys are the greatest guys in the world, but they had to be in hell because people complain so much about that makeup when they’re in it. But they never once complained. They were singing and playing their instruments for eight hours, and they just kept going and going and going, cut after cut. So they were amazing.” The director concluded, “They’re just the greatest guys, not to mention the greatest music. So I hope this turns a lot more people on to the Old 97’s.”

The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is set to premiere on Disney+ on Friday, Nov. 25. Set within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the television special follows Drax (Dave Bautista) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) as they try to cheer up Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) by getting him the greatest Christmas gift ever: Footloose star Kevin Bacon.

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See the Old 97’s perform “I Don’t Know What Christmas Is (But Christmastime Is Here)” in Marvel Studios’ The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, streaming Nov. 25 on Disney+.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

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