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Bradley Cooper on saying goodbye to Rocket Raccoon in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’

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Marvel Studios

With the promos tagging the Guardians of the Galaxy‘s “one last ride,” that means Bradley Cooper had to say goodbye to his beloved buttkicker, Rocket, in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

The actor-director has voiced the character since the team of misfits became unlikely box office superheroes with 2014’s original film, and at its recent world premiere, he was emotional. He explained it felt like just yesterday writer-director James Gunn asked him to play the part, which he’s reprised throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “It’s been incredible,” Cooper said of his run.

The final film shows how Rocket came to be, and it isn’t pretty. Shown as a baby — and voiced in his youth by Sean Gunn, who has performed as Rocket on set since the original movie — Vol. 3 shows the animal experimentation that elevated him to the ship-piloting little warrior fans know and love. And it adds poignancy to one of his lines from the first film, “Ain’t no thing like me, ‘cept me.”

Cooper expressed, “I love Rocket a lot, and it was a real privilege to play him, to be part of the team that is Rocket. And then to do — in this last incarnation of Guardians that they really were able to focus on his story meant a lot to me to be able to help tell that.”

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which also stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldaña, Karen Gillan, Dave Bautista, Pom Klementieff, Will Poulter, Sylvester Stallone and Chukwudi Iwuji, starts sneak previews on IMAX Wednesday, May 3, before an official opening Friday, May 5.

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