One of TEN's Movie Men of the Year, Chris Pratt talks about starring in one of 2014's best, Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy - in cinemas from Thursday July 31.

What was your initial exposure to the Marvel Universe?Were you a fan growing up?
Chris Pratt: My first exposure to the Marvel world was through comic books as a kid. I bought a bunch of comic books but they were pretty expensive so I didn't have a huge, extensive collection. But I did collect some Infinity Gauntlet stuff, in fact some Guardians of the Galaxy, some Punisher and Punisher 2099 and some Spiderman

I was an artist and painted murals on my wall that had some comic book heroes in them. I still have books and books full of comic-book drawings and stuff that I liked to do as a kid. So, I was definitely a fan, but more of the artwork than the stories. Just the look of the superheroes was something I really liked and was something I was into at the time.

Most people involved hadn't heard of Guardians of the Galaxy, but you were aware, correct?
Yes, I had heard of them. It's just a coincidental thing that in the short time that I was collecting comic books, my friend Travis got into Guardians and his brother got into some incarnation of Wolverine. At the time it was in the '90s and they both came out around the same time. I bought a couple Guardians of the Galaxy, but by the time I started collecting the #1s had already come out and they were on like #20 or #30 or whatever, so I started trying to get my own #1s.

What is it that attracted you to this film?
What attracted me to this role was really James Gunn, the director. We were sort of circling around each other for a little while. I had carved myself out a niche as an actor as the sidekick and I thought that was an avenue to have a career and I could just keep doing those more comedic roles, so I didn't audition. After I did Zero Dark Thirty I changed my mind about the kinds of characters I would like to play, so my manager got me an audition. In the process of the audition, something clicked and both James and I felt like it was going to be right. 

Take us through your character.
When we first meet Peter Quill, he's a nine-year-old kid watching his mother die of cancer. She's all he's got because he never knew his father. Peter is a kid who has been told his whole life that he needs to toughen up because he's got a big heart. 

After his mother dies, he is sucked away into space and raised by Yondu, who also tells him that he has to toughen up. So he's been living his whole life trying to pretend like he's tougher than he is. But he gets free rein in space. He gets his own ship; he gets to eat whatever candy he wants. There are no rules and he enjoys that, but there's something missing in his life. He misses his family and he misses his community. Through the course of the movie he has to learn to actually care about something and learn that there's more to life than just taking exactly what you want. 

Do you feel that bringing a whole new set of characters to the screen will be special to the audience?
Yes, but I also have a hunch that we're doing something that's never been done before. There have never been all these elements in one movie, from comedy to real drama to cutting-edge technology with the greatest, most imaginative worlds I've ever seen created in a movie. If there's just a harmony that comes together, then we're doing something that's groundbreaking. 

Is your character sort of stuck in the '80s?
Peter Quill is a product of the '80s, so when he left Earth he was stunted in his pop- culture references of Kevin Bacon, Footloose, John Stamos and things like that. Like the people in my generation, because I grew up the same era as Peter Quill, I think all that stuff is really funny and makes a lot of sense. But the soundtrack is great because it's songs that are from the '70s.

How does this movie tie back to Marvel's The Avengers?Thanos is at the end of Marvel's The Avengers and so we understand that he's looming in the Marvel universe and early on you get the sense that he's going to be a big part of this movie, but he's not the main bad guy in this movie. Ronan is his disciple and our main bad guy. All these worlds intertwine with one another.

Why do you think the audience keeps connecting with and enjoying these Marvel characters?
What Marvel fans really enjoy about these characters is the same thing they've always enjoyed with the characters in the comic books, which is fantasy and this bigger-than-life reality with real stories being told. They're timeless, classic stories and people really relate to that. It's awesome that Marvel has gotten into the movie business because it's a whole new medium in which to tell this incredibly vast library of stories.