Dino might

Juras­sic World star Chris Pratt has come along way from Parks and Recre­ation

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FRONT PAGE -

Chris Pratt is do­ing his best to re­main or­di­nary while oc­cu­py­ing an echo­ing room in the ex­haust­ingly lux­u­ri­ous Hô­tel Le Bris­tol on one of Paris’s swanki­est streets. He’s pulling it off very ef­fec­tively. That’s the thing about the only A-lis­ter aside from Boris Karloff (once Wil­liam Henry Pratt) to begin life with that un­likely sur­name.

He is the cin­e­matic Every­man of our age. First prop­erly reg­is­ter­ing as the lov­able Andy Dwyer, portly as­pi­rant rock god, in the much-loved In­di­anan sit­com

Parks and Recre­ations, he sur­prised even fans by break­ing movies in the enor­mously suc­cess­ful Guardians of the

Galaxy. Now, Pratt bears the re­spon­si­bil­ity of head­lin­ing the much-an­tic­i­pated fourth film in the Juras­sic Park se­quence.

“The first film was part of my child­hood,” he says. “So this was an hon­our. I didn’t want to put my name on some­thing that doesn’t work. Look, Steven Spiel­berg will be fine. He’ll be okay what­ever. But I need it to work for me. I care about the fran­chise. I don’t want to just pimp it out.”

Big be­he­moth

Juras­sic World, di­rected by up-and-comer Colin Trevor­row, fea­tures my new pal as a tough but charm­ing an­i­mal ex­pert who – in be­tween ro­man­tic bickering – helps Bryce Dal­las Howard’s com­pany girl to con­trol a ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied su­per-di­nosaur. The film is go­ing to be huge. Did he have to au­di­tion? “Well, I prob­a­bly would have be­cause no­body ex­pected

Guardians to be so big. But Colin con­tacted me and said: ‘What do you think about do­ing this movie?’”

As he goes on to ex­plain, there was more to it than that. But Pratt has such sin­cere charm, it’s easy to imag­ine Trevor­row show­ing such en­thu­si­asm.

I won­der if the myth con­cern­ing Pratt’s dis­cov­ery can be true. It is said that the ac­tor Rae Dawn Chong spot­ted him wait­ing ta­bles at a shrimp place in Maui. Then living out of a van, Pratt, born to work­ing-class par­ents from Min­nesota, was trans­ported to LA and a part in Chong’s di­rec­to­rial de­but Cursed Part 3. It’s like Lana Turner be­ing spot­ted in that milk bar.

“That’s all true,” he chor­tles. “I was living in Hawaii. I was chill­ing and hav­ing fun. I knew I would be an ac­tor. I just didn’t know how. I did bits for friends and I did have some con­fi­dence in my­self. She walked in and I went over and said: ‘You’re a movie star.’ She said: ‘Are you an ac­tor?’ I said: ‘Fuck yeah! Put me in your movie.’”

Flight­plan

The story has its poignant el­e­ments. When Chong re­vealed the film would be shot in LA, Pratt be­gan hum­ming and haw­ing. He couldn’t get time off work. He couldn’t af­ford the air­fare.

“She laughed and said: ‘Sweetie, we will fly you there.’”

Its sounds as if he was ter­mi­nally naive in those days. “Oh, I was, yeah.” Then just 20, Pratt had con­cen­trated on wrestling when at high school. Later, he did a bit of din­ner theatre around Seat­tle and mas­tered “a few song and dance num­bers”. Once in LA, he found a job in a Bev­erly Hills restau­rant, bought a car for $700 and be­gan au­di­tion­ing like a ma­niac. Most pro­files note that he read for the leads in both Star Trek and Avatar, but Pratt stresses that he was one among dozens in that po­si­tion.

“Yeah, it’s funny that those are the ones that get sin­gled out,” he says. “I au­di­tioned for ev­ery­thing. Your agent gets you au­di­tions even for things you have no chance of get­ting, so that cast­ing di­rec­tors can see you. You are car­pet-bomb­ing. I au­di­tioned for African-Amer­i­can roles. Ev­ery­thing.” For fe­male roles? “Oh yeah,” he says. “I’d be in

“I au­di­tioned for ev­ery­thing. Your agent gets you au­di­tions even for things you have no chance of get­ting, so that cast­ing di­rec­tors can see you. You are car­pet-bomb­ing. I au­di­tioned for African-Amer­i­can roles. Ev­ery­thing”

there and say: ‘The part is ‘Jessie’. I thought . . .’ They’d say: ‘Oh, go ahead.’ Some­times, they’d end up say­ing: ‘Hey, that was an in­ter­est­ing take. Nice to meet you.’ You get very good at au­di­tion­ing, but have no idea what to do on set. You fi­nally get on set and you have no fuck­ing idea. Ha Ha!”

Pratt had put in the hours be­fore Parks and Recre­ation kicked him up a notch. He had regular roles in the se­ries Ever­wood and The OC. You can catch him in movies such as Bride Wars and Wanted. But the NBC sit­com, fea­tur­ing Amy Poehler as the perky Les­lie Knope, found a way of ex­ploit­ing his ev­ery­day lov­abil­ity to the fullest ex­tent.

It took a while. The first sea­son was not a hit. Andy Dwyer, ami­able, lovelorn shoeshine man, was orig­i­nally sup­posed to be a mi­nor char­ac­ter.

“It was weird. In hind­sight it looks clear,” he says. “At the time I was like, I re­ally hope they bring me back for a sec­ond sea­son. Peo­ple were say­ing you are great on that show, but I knew that was hy­per­bole. I am not the rea­son they watch the show.”

Part of the show’s pe­cu­liar ap­peal is that it fea­tures al­most en­tirely de­cent peo­ple. That’s rare in a sit­u­a­tion com­edy. Even fre­quent an­tag­o­nist Ron Swan­son, gun-lov­ing lib­er­tar­ian, is, at heart, the kind­est of men.

“That’s right. The show run­ners and writ­ers are all de­cent peo­ple who are not ass­holes and that’s why there are no ass­hole voices. That’s in­ter­est­ing.”

Light speed

As the sixth sea­son was shoot­ing, Pratt found him­self pro­pelled into the be­he­moth that was Guardians of the Galaxy. The weight dropped off his frame as he pre­pared to play Peter Quill, quip-heavy star war­rior, in what un­ex­pect­edly be­came one of the year’s big­gest hits. In fact, Pratt was re­turn­ing to the size he had been be­fore Parks came along. The no­tion that he should fat­ten up caused much jol­lity at home. Pratt has been mar­ried to the supremely funny Anna Faris since 2009.

“We thought Andy could be funny and fat as long as the show runs,” he says. “I thought, I want to do it fat­ter. I told my wife and she said: ‘That’s great!’ She fat­tened me up. She loved that. She is a great cook and would make me ap­ple strudel for break­fast. We’d have pizza and pasta. We’d drink fab­u­lous wine and beer.”

What a drag when he had to lose it all.

“It was a drag for all of us. Yeah. Ab­so­lutely. Ha ha!”

Tell me please that he and Anna have as much fun at home as we fans imag­ine.

“Oh yeah. We laugh a lot. We laugh a lot.”

Pratt is cur­rently shoot­ing An­toine Fuqua’s re­make of The Mag­nif­i­cent Seven along­side such stars as Den­zel Wash­ing­ton, Ethan Hawke and Peter Sars­gaard.

“It’s a reimag­in­ing. I guess my part is closer to Steve McQueen’s or Toshiro Mi­fune [in Akiro Kura­sawa’s The Seven Samu­rai] than any­one. It’s quite dark. But th­ese are real peo­ple.”

Of course they are. That is what Chris Pratt does. He’s an or­di­nary fel­low. He’s a nice fel­low. By all ac­counts, Boris Karloff was lovely as well.

Juras­sic World opens next week

Chris Pratt

“I did have some con­fi­dence in my­self.”

Above right: Pratt in the up­com­ing Juras­sic World

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