Chris Pratt plays Peter Quill, a.k.a. the legendary outlaw
Star-Lord, in Guardians of the Galaxy, the leader of the
rag-tag team of cosmic heroes who face the biggest threats in
the Marvel Universe. He’s also one of Hollywood’s rising
stars, voicing Emmet Brickowski in hugely successful The Lego
Movie and about to battle dinosaurs as leading man Owen in
Colin Treverrow’s Jurassic
Wired.co.uk speaks with Pratt about his new space hero role, as
well as the pressures of fame and having to reinvent himself away
away from ‘jerk’ roles.
Did you look into the Guardians comics once you
got the role as Star-Lord?
I got a store load given to me and I started kinda reading it
but James was against it. He just let me know that I was doing the
right thing in my performance, the screenplay was all the roadmap
that I would need to follow, and that there were several
incarnations of these characters. This is just another one, and we
get to be in creative control of it. Just like if the Guardians
of the Galaxy comic was re-released, like it has been
recently, you get to really introduce audiences to these characters
with each reinvention, so we get to kinda decide who they are.
James himself seems hugely passionate about the comics
— did that passion come out on set?
Well, by the time I was on board and acting, the script had been
completed apart from a bit of comedic collaboration we would do,
but all of the deep, meaningful, dramatic through-line stuff had
been completed. I think his passion was seen in just creating that
script and seeing it through all the way to the end — the
animatics, the filming, then ultimately seeing the post-production
to the end. That’s a really tough thing to do, it’s several years
of his life. His passion is seen in every single frame because it
just wasn’t good enough until it was perfect.
Even when he’d see the great, big, beautiful pod chase sequence
on Knowhere, that would just blow my mind, he was like, “no, no!
That’s not right, I said this goes left to right,” or “this is too
close, I already told you guys last week. It has to be further away
or you lose perspective. How am I supposed to know the distance to
the guy? Make some kind of smoke come off it or something.” He was
hyper-critical of every department and that’s the kind of thing you
need to make a giant, epic spectacle like this really sing and
really work. If it was me, I would have just said, “That’s great!
Do it. That’s solid, that’s a solid B,” you know? James
delivered a movie that’s an A because he polished it until it
shined and then kept polishing more.
You auditioned for the role of Kirk for Star
Trek reboot. Were you chasing a ‘space hero’ kind of role, or
has becoming Star-Lord just been a neat coincidence?
Man, I can’t even remember when it was. That was JJ Abrams, that
must have been about ’07, ’08. But at that point I was still not
planning anything. I wasn’t in a position to plan anything, I was
just auditioning for everything! There’s probably a misconception
but basically everyone my age in L.A. would have auditioned for
that movie. They were looking for anyone. There’s several stages of
auditions. When I went in I don’t even think I met JJ Abrams, I
think I just read for a casting director and put my audition onto a
tape. I don’t think I was ever even considered one of the finalists
for it, I just happened to audition for it. Anything like that,
Avatar, G.I. Joe — if you pick a big name or big
budget movie, I would have auditioned for it!
Was it challenging going from years in a comedy role on
and Recreation into action leading man
The bigger challenge for me was before, in finding a role that
would aid the first transition I made, which was kinda from “douche
bag guy” on The
O.C. and essentially everything I’d done previously, to
the comedic character I played on Parks and Rec. And if it
was in television it would usually evolve to be something closer to
who I represent, ’cause I look like a douche bag but I’m not, I’m a
nice guy! It’s true, I would get cast as the douche bag ’cause I
was like a tall, handsome young man with blond hair.
You looked like you should walk around with popped
Yeah, it was all popped polo collars and high waisted pants and
like, “hey, fuck you baby, get in my Escalade“
or whatever. I would get those roles and I’d never do very well
with them. But when I operated in television, that’s a medium
that’s constantly evolving, so writers are catering their stories
to who best fits you as a performer. They made the character I
played on Everwood, who
originally literally ripped a comic book in half in the first
episode, yelling “Nerd!”, turn into a guy who cries and is
sensitive and sweet to his new girlfriend. That transition from
douche to into comedic guy, exposing my personality beneath the
exterior was sort of the first main challenge.
How have you dealt with the leap in exposure you’ve had
since Parks and Rec ended?
Hmm. I just know that my wife is very proud of me, and my close
friends and family are thrilled for me. I actually feel this sense
of momentum that I never really felt before. I can sense there’s a
shift coming. My biggest fear is that sometimes, big movie stars
turn into assholes. Not all of them, many of them don’t, but some
of them do. That’s my sort of compass going in — do this unless it
compromises who I am. Take it to the limit, go as far as I can, use
it as an opportunity to tell the stories that I wanna tell. I have
these ideas that have been floating around my brain, that could
potentially be produced if Guardians scores
internationally, if it’s like a big hit around the globe. I could
be proactive in bringing not only my own ideas but other brilliant
people’s ideas to life.
Do you see yourself becoming a bit of a movie mogul
I’m not gonna turn into like, you know, Jay-Z and buy a sports
team or anything. I’d buy a bass boat before I’d buy a sports team,
you know what I mean? I’d be out fishing every day if I could. If I
could afford to fish everyday for the rest of my life and hang with
my son, that’s me being a mogul, you know, that’ll be what I’d
Is that where you see your career going — movies in
front of the camera for a while and then step behind them?
Something like Chris Evans was saying he’d do after Captain
Yeah, that’s right. But he wanted to direct. I honestly think
that I’m best suited to being in front of the camera. I have a
deficit of attention. To direct, you need to be able to hyper focus
on one single idea for three years and see it through. I think that
would be torturous to me, I think I would lose interest. For me
it’s a good six-to-eight months of hyper focus and dedication, and
then immediately shut off and onto the next thing. I can do that
forever, you know what I mean? As long as there are big breaks
where I can spend time with my family in-between, I can do that. So
directing is…. I mean maybe that’ll change over time. I do like I
have enough confidence that, if I see a direction something needs
to go, as the star I’m willing to share that idea and there’re
often times I’m right. There’re often times I’m wrong though, so I
need someone to help direct me and keep me out of my head, at least
Do you think the external pressures of fame weigh down
and cause that asshole behaviour you mention? Being followed by
paparazzi and such?
Yeah, I don’t think actors become assholes because they just
wake up one day and go, “You know what, I can do whatever I want,
I’m gonna be an asshole today!” I think that probably is the result
of losing their patience and being ground down and also being
slightly mis-represented. They might be great guys. I haven’t
really met that many hardcore assholes yet. I’ve worked with some
people that can be difficult but that’s it. It’s sort of uncharted
territory. I’ve tried to ask some of my friends and peers who are
famous about it, and I’ve heard everything from, “Get the hell out
of L.A.” to “This is why I drink every day”. There are different
solutions and answers and I don’t know exactly what it is, but if I
figure it out I’ll be happy to share it with other young actors
that I meet. I think it helps to have a good compass, keep your
family close and treat the career like a joke to an extent — keep
it at arms length and understand that it’s kind of silly. Never
take yourself too seriously. I think that’s the key.