THE MARVEL VETERAN AND RESIDENT HEARTTHROB TANGOS WITH NEW REPTILED VILLAINS ATROCIRAPTORS AND PYRORAPTORS THIS SUMMER IN THE THIRD INSTALLMENT OF JURASSIC WORLD
BY WILL HARRIS
It’s been a long time since Chris Pratt last found himself unable to see the future. This isn’t to suggest that he was secretly moonlighting as the Nostradamus of the sci-fi action scene and has suddenly lost his soothsaying skills (although let’s put a pin in that, as that might be a natural transition for Star-Lord). But, no, in Pratt’s case, the situation is simply that he’s pretty much had his path laid out in front of him for more than a decade, thanks to two roles that have repeatedly found him returning to the top of the box office: Peter Quill, a.k.a. Star-Lord, leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy and a major part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Owen Grady, a man who really knows how to (mostly) evade velociraptors thanks to working at Jurassic World.
Not bad for an actor who himself was discovered while working at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. Yes, really. It all went down because actress/director Rae Dawn Chong (1981’s Quest for Fire) happened to sit at one of his tables.
“I was like, ‘You’re in the movies, right? I always wanted to be in the movies,”’ he told Entertainment Weekly in 2014.” She said, ‘You’re cute. Do you act?’ I was like, fit, ‘Goddamn right I act! Put me in a movie!”
Chong did just that, casting Pratt in her short film Cursed Part III, and while the film itself was never released, it took Pratt to Los Angeles, which in turn led him to his first role as a series regular: Bright Abbott in drama series Everwood. When the show wrapped four seasons later, he jumped into an arc on Fox’s The O.C., after which he took the job that would really put him on the public’s radar: playing hapless shoeshine boy/musician Andy Dwyer on Parks & Recreation. Additionally, the hiatuses during the show’s seven-season run provided Pratt with the opportunity to appear in three Best Picture nominees: Moneyball, Zero Dark Thirty, and Her.
Ironically, the film that started Pratt down the road of blockbuster-level success Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is one for which he initially didn’t want to audition. Nor, for that matter, did the film’s director, James Gunn, want to see Pratt for the role of Star-Lord. Indeed, were it not for casting director Sarah Finn, fate might have taken the film in a completely different direction, but at her insistence, the two gentlemen finally got in the same room.
“It was honestly one of those eureka moments that we talk about in casting when it absolutely feels right and you know its right,” Finn told Variety in 2019. “James turned to me within ten seconds and said, ‘He’s the guy.’”
On the other hand, Pratt did predict his casting in Jurassic World three years before it actually happened, although he’s the first to admit that it was a prediction made purely in jest. During the second of his seven seasons of NBC’s Parks & Recreation, before he was even remotely a big deal, Pratt was basically the only cast member in the series who was agreeable to doing a behind-the-scenes video.
“As I was doing it, my phone rang, and I pretended that I had gotten a text from Steven Spielberg that I was going to be in Jurassic Park 4,” Pratt recalled to IMDb in 2021. “The bit was so funny because I was like, ‘There is no way Steven Spielberg is going to cast you in Jurassic Park 4. That’s funny!’ And then it turned out that it happened, which is wild. I manifested it!”
What makes this accidental prophecy stand out even more is the subsequent revelation that Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow was on the fence about whether or not he should even cast Pratt.
“If any convincing had to happen, it was with me,” Trevorrow admitted to Cinema Blend in 2015. “The studio was down and Steven [Spielberg] was down, and I was down – but I was just worried that I was down for the wrong reasons. I really love improvisational comedic actors and you see them in my films again and again – Jake Johnson, Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass… and so I just wanted to make sure that I wasn’t bringing him in because that was a comfort zone for me. Ultimately we sort of proved to each other that it was the right choice, because we found something that certainly wasn’t really improvisational and it isn’t really that comedic. We found a real character.”
Not that the roles of Peter Quill and Owen Grady are the only characters that Pratt has been playing since the mid2010s: he co-headlined the 2016 remake of The Magnificent Seven with Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke, after which he teamed with Jennifer Lawrence for the sci-fi drama Passengers, and he found further sci-fi success last year with Amazon’s The Tomorrow War. And that’s not to mention the voice work he’s done for the two Lego Movie films and Disney/ Pixar’s Onward.
Still, when you look at the number of times he’s played Quill and Grady since originating the roles, it’s not hard see why he hasn’t had to do much in the way of scoping out his calendar to know what’s on the horizon: not only will the release of this year’s Jurassic World: Dominion mark the third time he’s played Grady, but between now and May 2023, fans will get three more shots at seeing Star-Lord. (Thor: Love and Thunder is scheduled for release in July 2022, Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special hits Disney+ in December 2022, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is currently poised for a May 5, 2023 debut.)
“I feel like it’s naturally going to be a transition,” Pratt acknowledged in a recent video interview with io9. “When you’re an actor, there’s just a cloud of uncertainty around your life, the roles that you will be offered, and I feel as though that cloud is coming back, in a way, and it really gets me excited. Because I don’t really know what to do next, and I think that is a pretty awesome feeling that I haven’t felt for the past…probably eight or nine years, so I’m curious. I don’t know, maybe it’s a comedy. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know what to expect. But I’m ready for it.”