CHRIS PRATT DIDN’T HAVE A TRADITIONAL RISE TO FAME. HIS STORY IS A STRANGE ONE, IF NOT A TELLING PICTURE OF HIS PERSEVERANCE AND NATURAL TALENT FOR WHAT HE LOVES TO DO.
Chris Pratt was born in Virginia, Minnesota on June 21, 1979 to Dan Pratt, a taconite miner and Kathleen Louise, a worker at Safeway supermarket. Pratt has a sister, Angie, and a brother, Dan Junior. Money wasn’t abundant in the Pratt family and they moved often, following wherever their dad needed to go to make money. They moved to Alaska and several other places before finally settling in Lake Stevens, Washington.
Pratt attended Lake Stevens High School and was very involved in extracurricular activities. He was on the school’s wrestling team and placed fifth in a high school state wrestling tournament. He also became the captain of his school’s team and worked his way up to becoming known as one of the top wrestlers in Washington. He also played for his football team as a fullback and an inside linebacker, which was inspired by his dad, who had also played in his day.
Pratt also was a member of his school’s drama team. He became interested in acting after witnessing how moved the audience was at his brother’s performance in a school musical. He went on to star in school productions of Grease, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” and some SNL skits.
During his senior year of high school, Pratt’s family would receive some devastating news: His father had been diagnosed with M.S. He had left it untreated for years and it was only getting worse. His father persisted but eventually passed away in 2014. During Pratt’s senior year, his family also lost their house and were forced to rent out a place while they made ends meet.
Despite these devastating life changes, Chris went on to graduate high school in 1997. His family then moved to a trailer when they could no longer afford the rent. He either had the option of sleeping in a shed out back or moving in with a friend. He chose to move in with his friend while working a job of a door-to-door salesman.
Chris still had dreams of pursuing acting but was unsure of how to get there. With no money or connections, the road to stardom was not an easy one and so, he worked his salesman job as best as he could. It turned out that he was naturally talented at sales and worked his way up to becoming a manager of one of the many offices. He managed an office outside of Denver and lived in an apartment with another roommate; all this while he was still under 21 years old.
As time went on, he realized that he wasn’t making as much money as he thought he should. Something didn’t feel right. He soon discovered that he had fallen victim to someone else’s money-making scheme.
“[I called my boss and said], ‘This is too much for me,’” Pratt said. “‘I’m more in debt every month. I’m so depressed. I can’t do it.’”
After he quit his job, he found himself back at square one, living with his family in Lake Stevens. He had no job, no money, and no idea about what to do. Suddenly, one of his friends called. He was living in Hawaii and wanted to fly Pratt out to live with him. Why not? Pratt thought and soon arrived on the gorgeous island. He was living on the beach with a van that included a couch and a tent with a blanket, which he would share with about six of his friends. At the same time, he worked as a server at Bubba Gump Shrimp. He was so good at his server job that he was named “Gumper of the year.”
It was at this restaurant that Pratt unexpectedly got his shot at stardom. By chance, Rae Dawn Chong, actress and daughter of Tommy Chong, decided to dine at Bubba Gump one day. Pratt ended up being her server and noticed who she was right away. “You’re a movie star,” he said bluntly. To which she replied, “You’re cute. Do you act?”
From there, it was history. She offered him the lead role (after a successful audition) in the comedy movie Cursed Part 3 (2000). The movie took 10 days to shoot and Pratt had given it his all but unfortunately, it was never released. Probably with good reason, too.
“It was the worst movie I’d ever seen,” he admitted. “But, the whole reason that movie came along was just so I could be brought to Hollywood.”
Living in L.A. allowed Pratt to get a manager and audition for roles. He landed some small parts and even got the role of Bright Abbott in Everwood (2002–2006), a TV series about a widowed brain surgeon from Manhattan who moves his two children to the small mountain town of Everwood, Colorado.
He also had small parts in Wanted (2008), Bride Wars (2009), and Jennifer’s Body (2009). His big break came when he auditioned for a show called Parks and Recreation (2009– 2015), a comedy featuring Amy Poehler, Nick Offerman, and others about the daily lives of the parks and recreation department in Pawnee, Indiana. He got the role of Andy Dwyer, a loveable and at-times ditzy character. Originally, the character was supposed to be temporary but audiences loved the character and he stuck around throughout the entire show.
During his time on the beloved show, he starred in a few movie roles, some of which showed off his more serious side. He landed the part of Scott Hatteberg in Moneyball (2011), alongside Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill; and Cully in 10 Years (2011), alongside Channing Tatum and Rosario Dawson. He also starred in Zero Dark Thirty (2012), Her (2013), and The Lego Movie (2014).
His greatest movie role that would set forth a new era for him arrived in 2014. Marvel was hosting auditions for a new superhero movie called Guardians of the Galaxy, with James Gunn directing. Pratt’s agent had suggested he audition for the main role of Peter Quill aka Star-Lord. He was quick to turn it down, thinking that he would never be accepted for the role.
“I passed on it,” Pratt said. “When they announced it, I looked it up and saw a list of the top 20 dudes in Hollywood who might play Peter Quill. I was not on that list. I did not want to go in and embarrass myself.”
But at the urging of his agent, Chris decided to take a chance. When he arrived, it wasn’t the most encouraging of environments. Gunn had had a long day sitting through unimpressive auditions and when he heard that “the chubby guy from Parks and Rec” was up next, he wasn’t too enthused. Pratt went in with a plan though, already playing the part of Quill as he stepped into the room.
“You walk into the room as the character,” Pratt said, explaining his tactic. “You let them think the person you are is close to the character they want. You make them think you already are that guy. Gunn was like, ‘Damn, this is it.’”
Guardians of the Galaxy was an unprecedented success, becoming one of Marvel’s biggest movies, even surpassing all but Iron Man 3 and The Avengers at the time. It grossed $773 million worldwide. Its sequel, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) was even more successful, reaping $863 million worldwide. The movie’s fruitfulness showed just how charming and loveable Pratt was on screen and how well he could hold down the action genre.
This would prove useful when he soon after landed the role of Owen Grady in Jurassic World (2015), alongside Bryce Dallas Howard. Pratt had moved past comedy to become an action star, one with an arresting demeanor and screen presence. Jurassic World did phenomenal as well, totaling $500 million worldwide in one weekend.
These two movies alone basically solidified Pratt into Hollywood for years to come, with both of them spawning several movies. Chris starred in all of The Avengers’ films after his initial debut as Star-Lord, such as 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War and 2019’s Avengers: Endgame. Jurassic World also released a sequel, 2018’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.
That’s not the end of it either: Rumor has it that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is in the works, with an expected release date in 2023, while a third installment of Jurassic World, called Jurassic World: Dominion, will release in 2022. But his latest project will come much sooner, for fans eager to see Pratt in action again. On July 2 of this year, catch him in action film, The Tomorrow War, about a man who is drafted to fight in a future war where the fate of humanity relies on his ability to confront his past. It’s sure to be out of this galaxy, just like Pratt’s other works!
By Selene Rivera