I AM GROOT: Check Out Our Exclusive Interview With Writer And Director Kirsten Lepore!

I AM GROOT: Check Out Our Exclusive Interview With Writer And Director Kirsten Lepore!

I Am Groot writer/director Kirsten Lepore talks to us about The Watcher's debut in the series, Vin Diesel's return as Baby Groot, Easter Eggs, and whether she'd be interested in coming back for season 3.

By JoshWilding - Sep 04, 2023 07:09 AM EST
Filed Under: Television

Everybody's favourite troublemaking twig returns to mischief in the second season of I Am Groot. This time, Baby Groot finds himself exploring the universe and beyond aboard the Guardians' spaceships, coming face-to-face - or nose-to-nose - with new and colourful creatures and environments.

Vin Diesel is back as the voice of Groot in five all-new shorts, while Kirsten Lepore, the writer and director of season 1, returns in the same capacity for season two. 

Last month, we caught up with the filmmaker to learn more about her favourite moments making the series and learn new details about The Watcher's role, what it's been like working with Vin Diesel in the recording booth, and season 2's many Easter Eggs. 

Reflecting on the response from fans to the first batch of episodes, Kirsten also teases possible plans for season 3 and ponders a potential I Am Groot movie.

If Marvel Studios needs a director for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 4, then we can't think of anyone better than the director to take charge of that, especially based on the sheer amount of love that's clearly gone into I Am Groot season 2. 

For now, though, you can check out our full interview with Kirsten in the player below. 

I didn’t think you’d be able to come up with anything cuter than Baby Groot in pyjamas, but then you put him in a snowsuit. Where did that idea come from and how much fun has it been to play with this character’s charm?

[Laughs] It’s super fun. I love that question because I sometimes forget about the fun details we put in there and we really had a blast with it. In those brainstorming sessions for season 2, we were so excited that people were very into season one and it was well-received. So we were like, ‘Cool, how can we up this and have the most fun with it?’ We came up with some ideas I think are even weirder and wilder than season one. I was shocked when the executives said, ‘Yeah, we’ll let you give Groot a nose.’ I’m like, ‘Cool.’ [Laughs] I never thought that would happen. It was a super fun challenge to come up with these wild ideas like the snowsuit. I was really excited about [that] because what’s cuter than a kid in a snowsuit that’s too big for him as he tries to waddle around? [Laughs] There were many CG tests as well. We’d be like, ‘The snowsuit needs to be puffier. It needs to be thicker. It’s not cute enough yet. Go more!’ 

No spoilers, but I’m sure a big talking point will be the fact we see a new side of The Watcher here; what did you enjoy about throwing him into the mix and getting to work with Jeffrey Wright and showing a less stoic side to Uatu?

That was a really fun undertaking. It was also an example of something we pitched where I was like, ‘I don’t know if they’re going to let me do this…’ They did and we were really excited about the prospect of bringing The Watcher in in a very different capacity than we’ve seen him in in What If…? Working with Jeffrey Wright was amazing and I can’t say enough great things about that recording session. He’s such a cool guy. We’d actually done three lots of temporary dialogue for that episode. I did one and we had one of the editors at Marvel - who has a really great Watcher voice - do a few of them and I felt like we were reworking the scratch to pitch this episode to make sure it was working. We didn’t know but as soon as Jeffrey came in, it was ‘Boom, there it is. Incredible.’ He knocked it out of the park the first time around. He is The Watcher and embodies it. It was magical to witness him bringing that character to life in that capacity…and to give him a little sense of humour we hadn’t really seen. 

Vin Diesel has now played so many versions of this character, but when he’s recording his lines and seeing all the crazy scenarios you’re putting Baby Groot in, does that make for a fun back-and-forth between director and actor?

Yeah, in our sessions, he’s always been so supportive and wonderful. He’s truly amused which makes me so happy as a writer and director. I’m like, ‘He likes it!’ [Laughs] You see that in the performance and hear it in the work. He’s really bringing his all to it and really loves and truly enjoys this character. He’ll not only do the lines, but he’ll always put in the additional efforts that he’s not required to do. He fully commits and I love that about his performance. 

My wife is forever skipping Marvel Studios’ opening fanfare and it annoys me to no end but where did the inspiration come from to have Baby Groot fast-forward through that to kick these episodes off? 

[Laughs] Oh, that’s great. That’s great. I wanted to do something really irreverent with the fanfare for both seasons and we worked with a company that just does the fanfare separately. I pitched them some goofy ideas and then they pitched me some things back and that was where we landed. ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if we trolled everybody [Laughs] and did what some people are thinking like, let’s skip the intro?’ It feels very in-character for Groot as well, so that was another one where I was like, ‘Yes!’ I was glad they let me play there and have fun with that. 

The Easter Eggs in the show are a blast and the Celestial ice cream was a fun one. What’s the process of coming up with those like for you and do you get a lot of freedom to explore the MCU?

Yeah, they’ve given me what I thought was a very surprising amount of freedom. We write these scenarios like, ‘Okay, Groot has a nose. That’s the plot. Or Groot goes after an ice cream truck.’ I was always pleasantly surprised that they were really very on board with the weird things I wanted to do with this character and the show. I think that’s also what makes it fun: they get that and are obviously very smart. They know they can play with this massive palette of characters they have in the funnest way possible. I really commend them for that and it made it a great working relationship as well. I really felt I had that freedom - even at the writing stage - to bring my personal brand of weirdness to it. It felt really good. 

The response to season 1 was great and we’ve seen Baby Groot’s many unique looks translated to Funko Pops, Hot Toys - which I have on pre-order - and more. What’s it been like to see your contributions to the MCU embraced that way? 

I have all the Funko Pops over here! [Laughs] It’s trippy. It’s really wild, I’ve got to say. I just feel like one small person that doesn’t even know that much about comics, to be honest, coming into this world and really getting absorbed into the MCU with Groot. I’ve become so much more of a fan through that process as well and it hits even harder when I walk into Hot Topic, and find a wall of Groot toys, and seven of them are all from the shorts we wrote for season 1. It’s totally an honour to have any place in this massive world of mythology Marvel is creating. 

I know this might be a question for Kevin Feige, but is season 3 something you’d like to come back for? Or would you maybe even take Groot into his own film?

I would be very interested in that. It would be very cool to see a feature-length Baby Groot, for sure, and I feel like that’s all I can say. I enjoy working with this character in any capacity they will allow me to. 

From creepily cute alien birds to a cosmic ice cream truck and a killer snowman - what’s been the best part about exploring this cosmic side of the MCU? 

I mean, I think the parts I enjoy the most are the ones that pull really relatable - and sometimes autobiographical - moments [Laughs]. The episode with the baby bird…there’s definitely some inspiration I’m drawing from being a parent of a very young child. I’ve felt some of the things Groot is feeling, for sure, and then the ice cream truck; that was me, I was that kid. I would do anything to get that coin to get the ice cream. Those are the moments we can all relate to in some way through this character. It’s what makes him really wonderful and loveable and what makes this show so fun. 

I Am Groot season 2 begins streaming on Disney+ on September 6.

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