Oreo, the real raccoon who inspired Rocket Raccoon in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, died Thursday at age 10 after a short illness, his human family confirmed Friday.
The owner, Sallie, and her husband brought Oreo, sometimes called Mr. Oreo, into their lives when he was a baby, she told me.
"He has never been trained, he has always been very well behaved and responsive," she told me. "An absolutely amazing animal."
His early days were tough, she recalled. She was in a London theater when she received the call that Oreo and his siblings had been born and needed help.
"We had a private collection of exotic animals and we were waiting for a baby raccoon," she said. "Unfortunately Oreo's mother did not have a milk supply so we bottle-fed him after dashing home."
He loved his chair in his suite at the hotel at the premiere of GotG in London 💔💔❤️ #superstar #goodbye #oreo #rocketPosted by Quinta Layla on Friday, February 8, 2019
Oreo's movie stardom was a complete accident, she said. The first Guardians film was made at Shepperton Studios in the UK, where raccoons are uncommon. Word of Oreo spread, and representatives from the studio approached the family to see if a film team could study Oreo.
"At that time, we did not know it was Marvel," she said. "We found out when we got to the studios for (director and writer James Gunn) to meet him for the first time."
Oreo gave Gunn and crew a sense of how real raccoons moved and reacted.
"They studied his responses to stimuli and motor skills, (and even) filmed him when he was soaking wet," she said.
Some fans on social media are suggesting Marvel honor Oreo with a mention in the closing credits of an upcoming film, perhaps Avengers: Endgame or Guardians 3, whenever that comes out.
"That would be lovely," she said. "It would be very nice if they did, but James isn't the (Guardians) director now, he loved Oreo."
The future of the third Guardians of the Galaxy movie remains up in the air since James Gunn was fired in the summer 2018 for off-color tweets he posted in the past. (Avengers: Endgame, however, comes out in April.)
While the movie Rocket has a sarcastic and crabby side, Oreo never did, she wrote on Facebook.
"You loved all people of all ages and other animals too and were never phased by anything be it a walk down the red carpet as Rocket Raccoon, a trip to a hospice to visit a sick child or anything else that came your way," the tribute post said. "You just enjoyed everything and it showed. You instinctively knew when to calm, when to be bouncy and we never worried that you would do the wrong thing because you never did. You were perfect."
"My boy has made me very proud, made us very proud," she told me.
Rocket's name in the cast list is Rocket Raccoon, but the character, voiced by Bradley Cooper, was never convinced that meant he was one of Oreo's species.
In the first Guardians movie in 2014, when Peter Quill calls him a "talking raccoon," Rocket is confused. "Hold up! What's a raccoon?" he says. And when it's explained to him, he still doesn't buy it, declaring, "Ain't no thing like me, except me!"
Star Chris Pratt told MTV News this week that Gunn's original GOTG3 script will be used for the upcoming sequel, but Disney has yet to confirm that news.
First published Feb. 8, 10:35 a.m. PT.
Update, 11:26 a.m. PT: Adds comments from Oreo's human companion.
Update: 2:15 p.m. PT: Corrects name of Oreo's human companion. It's Sallie.
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