From Disney protege and Eighties hearth-throb, to winemaker, family man and action star - Kurt Russell is still an actor in demand. He tells Gemma Dunn why he's never been afraid to follow his own path

A starring role in Marvel Studios' Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 may sound like a golden ticket for many actors, but Kurt Russell was never going to just leap at the chance.

The Overboard star, 66, hadn't even seen the first hit movie - let alone versed himself in the hype surrounding its superhero sequel.

But when word got around that he was director James Gunn's first choice for Ego - a 'Living Planet' and long-lost father of Peter Quill, aka Star Lord - the unflappable actor soon had no choice but to sit up and take note.

"I was doing press for Hateful Eight and all of a sudden, my phone is going off: 'Oh this is great, are you going to play Star Lord's dad?' 'Are you going to be in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2? 'Wow, you're the perfect guy for it'.

"I'd never been in that position before, where people were telling me, 'You gotta do this'," Russell admits, with a relaxed shrug and warm smile. "But what that told me was that they were expecting something specific.

"So when I read the movie and found out what James was laying out, I had to take a leap of faith."

Picking up where Guardians Of The Galaxy - the highest-grossing film of summer 2014 - left off, Vol. 2 continues the action-packed space adventures of Quill (Chris Pratt) and his gang of intergalactic misfits as they fight to keep their new-found family together, while unravelling the mysteries of Quill's parentage.

For Massachusetts-born Russell, it made total sense why he was handpicked for the elusive character.

"He's basically a God-like character. He's created himself and he lives on the planet that he's created," he explains.

"I liked the fact James focused on the one thing that was really relatable, which was the relationship between father and son - and rather than the imaginary person Chris' character had created in his head, he was going to have to deal with the real person.

"I thought that was a situation a lot of kids have been in," adds Russell, who has two sons - Boston, from his marriage to actress Season Hubley, and Wyatt from his long-term relationship with Goldie Hawn, whose other children, Oliver and Kate Hudson, also consider him their dad.

His own family life meant he had plenty to draw on for the role. Plus, he observes: "This is sci-fi, so you can ask any of the questions you want, right?

"What was fun about this one was it was twofold, in that you could relate to it as a parent, because you're the authority. Given by nature, you're the one that's going to teach and show, and that's going to be questioned.

"But if you're also a God, well then God moves in mysterious ways, so that's not to be questioned, and that's the centrepiece of what Peter Quill has to deal with."

His only quibble is that it's a sequel. Bar a few exceptions ("I did a three-part Disney thing way back in the day, plus Escape From LA"), he's usually resistant when it comes to committing to follow-ups, admitting he wonders whether "it's going to be something we could make as good as, or better than, this one everybody loved so much".

"You don't want to be the one that comes in and is responsible for the, 'Urgh, they should have never done another one'," he states.

Meeting the morning after the film's premiere, Russell is in great spirits, laughing and joking about dancing on the red carpet the night before. He's the epitome of Hollywood chic - dressed in all black, matched with a pair of thick-rimmed specs and the obligatory great hair, great tan, great teeth.

But best of all, his 55 years in showbiz - and macho-guy tag - don't appear to have tainted his nature.

The son of actor Bing Russell and dancer Louise Crone, Russell was perhaps destined for stardom, landing a role in Elvis Presley's It Happened At The World's Fair at just 11.

However, it wasn't until he signed a 10-year contract with The Walt Disney Company in the late-Sixties that he made his mark as one of the studio's - and Tinseltown's - biggest heart-throbs.

Now, his resume spans way beyond Disney, with credits including cult classics Silkwood, The Thing, Big Trouble In Little China, plus, more recently, parts in Quentin Tarantino movies Death Proof and The Hateful Eight, and Fast & Furious 7 and 8.

But can the action-star guise last forever? He is a grandfather now, after all.

"I've always enjoyed it," he says of his stunt work. "I was a ball player [Russell, like his father, had a baseball career until injury forced his retirement from the sport in the Seventies], so I was a good athlete and I liked using that.

"I also believe in physical acting; I'm a big believer in the fact you assume the physicality of the person you're playing. As long as I could try to work things out with the stuntman to do things safely, I always felt more comfortable doing it than not doing it.

"I did really good until I was about 48-49-years old, and then things started to break," he confesses with a laugh.

"So I started slowing down in my mid-50s... This stuff [on Guardians Of The Galaxy] was all fairly easy to do compared to the old days," he adds.

He says he's blessed to be in a position where he can pick and choose his next move ("I've actually been there for a long time and I've been fortunate to be able to say that and feel that way"), but it's not all about acting.

"I do want to get back in the vineyard," notes Russell, who launched GoGi Wines in 2007 in California. "I really like making wine, I'm serious about it, so it's something I look forward to doing."

There's also a "project" on the go that he says his sons "Oliver and Wyatt brought to Kate".

"There's a part they thought I would be very right for, and it just so happened that Mel Gibson was looking in the same arena, so we've decided to get together," Russell reveals with a glint, not giving too much away.

"We're hoping we can put this long-form TV thing together for this year or next year... But other than that, I have no idea."

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 opens in cinemas on Friday, April 28