Chris Pratt never expected to become a huge international movie star. By his late teens he was a homeless college drop-out in Hawaii, frittering away his days lounging around on the beach with his buddies, and spending his nights sleeping in a beat-up old van. A chance meeting with the daughter of a famous comedian set him on a path that would eventually lead the amiable young man first to television stardom, and finally to becoming one of the most bankable stars working in Hollywood today.
Chris Pratt was born in the town of Virginia, Minnesota. He is the son of Kathleen Louise Pratt and the late Daniel Clifton Pratt, who died in 2014 from multiple sclerosis.
Pratt was raised by his parents Kathleen and Daniel in the town of Lake Steven in the state of Washington. His mother worked the checkouts at her local Safeway store, and Chris’s father was a miner who later changed careers and moved into remodeling houses.
Pratt was a popular kid at his local high school. He excelled at football, track and wrestling, and was even voted ‘Mr. Popular’ during his time there. His local newspaper later wrote of his time at high school that he ‘was just as popular with the jocks as he was with the preps, stoners and drama kids’.
During his time at high school, his wrestling coach asked him what he wanted to do when he grew up. ‘I was like, ‘I don’t know, but I know I’ll be famous and I know I’ll make a s*** ton of money’. I had no idea how. I’d done nothing proactive’, Pratt later recalled.
Pratt retained ties with his old school after leaving to go to community college. He has even narrated a documentary about the school’s wrestling team, which was later shown on MTV True Life.
Pratt eventually dropped out of community college halfway through his first semester there, and got a job as a discount ticket salesman. This didn’t last long, so he left and took to stripping to make ends meet. Growing bored of taking his clothes off for parties of drunk women, he eventually found his way to Mauii in Hawaii and ended up homeless, sleeping on the beach and also in a beat-up old van.
Chris looks back fondly on his time living as a vagrant in Hawaii. He later told the Independent newspaper, ‘It’s a pretty awesome place to be homeless. We just drank and smoked weed and worked minimal hours, just enough to cover gas, food, and fishing supplies.’
Eventually, Chris got a job at a Bubba Gump Shrimp Company restaurant on the island. It would be a chance meeting at that restaurant that would change his life forever and set him on the path to fame and fortune.
It was while serving at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company that Chris Pratt unexpectedly got his big break. Rae Dawn Chong, the daughter of comedian Tommy Chong, was looking around for people to star in her low budget horror short film, Cursed Part 3. Chong was immediately taken by her server’s wit, sense of humor and striking good looks, and the two were soon chatting away. It wasn’t long before Chong made up her mind to offer Pratt a role in her new movie. Taken aback at this unexpected offer, he accepted, and two days later he found himself in Hollywood shooting what would later become known as one of the worst horror comedies ever made.
After appearing in Cursed Part 3, Pratt was bitten by the acting bug and decided he would like to become an actor full time. He started auditioning for roles and it wasn’t long before he came to the attention of the producers of the Warner Brothers TV drama, The Everwood. Pratt was cast as Harold Brighton Abbott and stayed with the show until its cancellation in 2006.
Pratt next landed the role of Winchester Cook in the fourth season of the teen drama series, The O.C. Despite being very popular with younger viewers, rather unfortunately for Chris Pratt, the network decided to cancel the show after the fourth season. There were protests and petitions to get the show back on the air, but Fox wouldn’t budge and the show never returned.
After a string of small movie and TV roles including a small role in the 2009 Angelina Jolie action movie Wanted, Pratt auditioned for the role of Captain James T. Kirk in J.J. Abrams’ reboot of the Star Trek franchise. He also auditioned for the lead role in James Cameron’s Avatar. He was turned down for both roles, which hit the young actor hard.
‘They said they want somebody that has ‘that thing’, that ‘it factor”, said Pratt of his Avatar audition. ‘I walked into that room knowing that I did not have that thing, and I walked out thinking I would never have that thing, probably.’ Despondent, Pratt resolved to lower his ambitions. He wanted to carry on acting, but he had convinced himself that big Hollywood roles would continue to elude him. He couldn’t have been more wrong.
Pratt decided to aim for a TV role instead of continuing to be turned down for movies, and in 2009 he landed the role of Andy Dwyer in NBC’s comedy show, Parks and Recreation. The character was meant to be temporary, but proved so likeable that the show’s writers decided to make him a permanent member of the cast. Pratt would remain with the show for its entire six-year run, only taking a backseat during season six while filming Guardians of the Galaxy.
In 2011, Pratt heard that Columbia Pictures was casting for the role of Oakland Athletics first baseman Scott Hatteberg in the forthcoming Brad Pitt movie, Moneyball. He decided to audition for the role, but was told he was too fat for the part. Pratt put his weight gain down to his wife Anna Faris’s cooking. Determined to land the role, the actor began a punishing weight loss regime that would see him shed a whopping 30lbs. A newly-slimmed down Pratt sent in a photo of himself to producers, and he won the part.
Moneyball was Pratt’s first serious role, and he gained much critical acclaim for his sensitive portrayal of a troubled baseball player. Roles in 2011’s Zero Dark Thirty and 2012’s Her followed. Pratt’s performance in both was praised by the critics.
In 2013, Pratt was asked to audition for the role of Star-Lord in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Fearing another Avatar/Star Trek moment, Pratt turned the suggestion down. However, he was convinced to meet with the movie’s director and producers and they immediately decided he was perfect for the role despite the fact he had once again piled on the pounds. Pratt signed a multi-movie deal with Marvel Studios and Guardians of the Galaxy began filming with a newly-slim Pratt in 2013.
2014 proved to be Pratt’s blockbuster movie breakthrough year. February saw the release of The Lego Movie, with Pratt providing the voice of the lead character, Emmet Brickowski. The movie was a worldwide hit, bringing in $469.2m at the box office and winning and being nominated for various awards including an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song for ‘Everything Is Awesome’.
August saw the release of Guardians of the Galaxy. The industry was unsure whether this adaptation of an obscure Marvel comic series would be a hit, but all doubts were cast aside when the movie gained almost universal critical acclaim and brought in a colossal $773.3m at the box office. From losing out in 2009 on two major movie roles, Pratt was now the star of the two highest-grossing movies of 2014.
Now firmly established as a bankable Hollywood leading man, the actor was the go-to choice when Josh Brolin dropped out of the Jurassic Park reboot, Jurassic World. Released in 2015, Jurassic World gained generally favorable reviews and was a hit with audiences worldwide, pulling in a staggering $1.670 billion at the global box office. Pratt was, of course, immediately signed up for the sequel, which is scheduled to be released in 2018.
Since Jurassic World, Pratt has starred alongside Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke in the remake of The Magnificent Seven, and with Jennifer Lawrence in Passengers. In 2017 he will reprise his role as Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2. As well as the Jurassic World sequel, he will also appear in Avengers: Infinity War in 2018. The future for this once-unconfident actor who was turned down for so many leading roles now looks very bright indeed.
Despite the fact that the thirty-seven-year-old has been acting since he was nineteen years old, Pratt really only came to widespread public attention when he landed the role of Andy Dwyer in Parks and Recreation in 2009.
At the time, Pratt’s public image was that of a portly character actor who would probably remain in television and minor roles in movies for the rest of his career. That, of course, all changed when he was first cast in Moneyball alongside Brad Pitt, and then the box office juggernauts that were Guardians of the Galaxy, The Lego Movie and Jurassic World.
Thanks to these two roles, Pratt has gone from being perceived as an amiable American everyman to an A List Hollywood leading man. And Pratt has worked very hard to cement this image. He has worked tirelessly on his weight issues, slimming down for his leading roles and becoming a sex symbol in the process.
Pratt now has a growing army of fans who eagerly wait for any news of what their new favorite actor is going to be doing in the future. It’s quite a turnaround from waiting tables and bumming around on the beach in Hawaii, but the actor seems to have taken his unexpected promotion to the top table of Hollywood in his stride.
As he heads towards middle age, this likeable actor has plenty of reasons to be happy with how his life has turned out. He is viewed very positively by the public, his movies make millions, even billions of dollars and he’s signed up to appear in some of the biggest movie franchises of the modern era. Not bad for a guy who didn’t even want to be an actor until a chance meeting in a shrimp restaurant back in 1998.
Pratt met his future wife, the Scary Movie actress Anna Faris on the set of the 2007 comedy movie, Take Me Home Tonight. The two hit it off and began dating in the same year. They announced their engagement in 2008 and got married on the beautiful paradise island of Bali in July 2009.
The couple’s son, Jack, was born prematurely in 2012, and this led both Pratt and his wife to become committed Christians. They were told there was every chance their child would not survive, and this led the couple to spend a lot of time praying for their son to make it. Jack eventually pulled through, and Pratt later stated that this ‘really defined’ his faith.
He was born and raised a Lutheran, and at one stage worked for the controversial non-profit organization, Jews For Jesus. He is now a committed non-denominational Christian.
As one would expect of a bona-fide movie superstar, Pratt, his wife Anna and their young son Jack live in the Hollywood Hills in California. As well as his movie work, Pratt commits his time to supporting and fundraising for the charities Malaria No More, March of Dimes and the Motion Picture and Television Fund Foundation. He is also a keen fisherman in his spare time.
- Chris Pratt: The Biography by Joe Allan
Written by: Ben Perry