'Guardians of the Galaxy's' Chris Pratt, James Gunn Photographed in Bed Together, Reading Comic Books

Amid predictions that the movie would be "Marvel's first bomb," the star and his director both believed they were done in Hollywood: "If this goes wrong, my life is screwed. I'll be a pariah," Gunn recalls thinking, in THR's Rule Breakers 2014 issue

This story first appeared in the Jan. 9 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

"Everyone wants to win big, but no one wants to gamble," says Chris Pratt, star of Guardians of the Galaxy, the unlikely highest-grossing movie of the year. That sounds like 20/20 hindsight about what initially was predicted among industry insiders to be "Marvel's first bomb." Of course, a different type of explosion occurred when Guardians hit theaters Aug. 1 and brought in $771.8 million worldwide at the box office, launching a new franchise for the now-even-more-powerful Marvel brand. Not to mention that Guardians blasted Pratt -- until then best known as a jokester on NBC's Parks and Recreation -- into the stratosphere of Hollywood's A-list.

Read more 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Hits $700 Million Worldwide

"Every rule said, 'You don't make a movie with a talking tree,' 'You don't spend this much money on a raccoon with a gun,' " says Pratt, 35. "For me, I was like, 'Oh, so this movie is going to bomb. Done. This is the end of my career.' " Pratt points to director and co-writer James Gunn (Nicole Perlman also worked on the script) as the true risk-taker for spending two years on nothing but this movie. "I actually personally felt that people needed the color," explains Gunn, 44, who previously directed low-budget indies such as Super and Slither. "They needed the humor and the fun -- they just didn't know it yet. But there were those nights at 3 a.m. when I would wake up and be like, 'Oh my God, what am I doing? If this goes wrong, my life is screwed. I'll be a pariah.' "

Read more 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Star Chris Pratt Reveals Why He Almost Turned Down Marvel Movie

With the opposite occurring, Gunn has signed on for the sequel, slated for release in 2017. Meanwhile, Pratt has been very choosy with his next move, turning down high-profile offers and only recently joining Denzel Washington on the remake of The Magnificent Seven. Pratt is quick to point out that his personal life -- with his wife, actress Anna Faris, and their 2-year-old son, Jack -- hasn't changed, and he prefers it that way: "I don't want my kid to be 10, and I've done 20 movies. Some people can do that, but I'm going to do only the best stuff or nothing."

His Hollywood life, on the other hand? "Changed completely. I take meetings with people, and I'm like, 'Oh yeah, you want to have a meeting with me? All right, we'll sit down.' "

Read below for the full Rule Breakers 2014 list:

See Exclusive Portraits of the Rule Breakers

Angelina Jolie on Ditching Her Team, Directing Brad Pitt: "A Therapist Would Have a Field Day"

Taylor Swift Reveals Surprising Industry Reaction to Spotify Decision

'Chef' Director Jon Favreau, Roy Choi Reunite: "Now We Get to Make a Real Restaurant"

Film Fighters, All in One Frame: J.J. Abrams, Judd Apatow, Bennett Miller, Christopher Nolan and Edgar Wright

'How to Get Away With Murder's' Viola Davis: Why I'm Happy to No Longer Play "Sassy"

'Birdman' Star Michael Keaton Snaps at Reporter: "That's Lazy and a Cliche"

Ethan Hawke Reveals Early Concerns Over 'Boyhood's' 12-Year Shoot: "It Could Fall Totally Flat on Its Face"

'Transparent' Boss Reveals the Moment She Decided to Make a Show About a Transgender Parent

Deal of the Year: Disney's Nearly $1B Acquisition of Maker Studios

John Green, Shailene Woodley and 'Fault in Our Stars' Producers Reunite

'Lego Movie' Filmmakers Reveal Fib Told to Warner Bros.