Sometimes you meet people and wish you had a chance to see them again. There’s something about their personality that makes you just want to be around them just once more. For me, that was the case with Chris Pratt. The last time I saw Chris, it was for the premiere and interviews for Delivery Man. He had just finished shooting for Guardians of the Galaxy and even mentioned it in that interview when asked what was next for him.
“Yeah, in the movie they made called Guardians of Galaxy that’s like their take on sort of rocking space opera type story, ensemble cast. Takes place in space and it’s so imaginative. I’m not really allowed to say even anything about it but I could. (he laughs) Yeah, I’m beyond excited and I think I just got a text from our director (James Gunn) who’s finished the first week in editing and he’s not a tough guy to please and he is very, very pleased with what he’s seeing and I’m just really excited about that.”
It’s very evident that even then he had no clue how big this film would be. The ensemble cast and the “sort of rocking space opera type story” as his quick mention…it was great to talk to him now. I think he has a better idea now of just how big this movie really is.
Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord, aka Chris Pratt Interview
Looking fit and happy, Chris walks into a room full of applause, for there is no doubt that he did a phenomenal job as Peter Quill/Star-Lord in Marvel’s new Guardians of the Galaxy.
Starting off light and funny, “You clearly didn’t need it but did they want you to take dance lessons?” (Everyone laughs)
Chris: Well, once they saw me cut a rug, they- (laughing) no – I- yeah,no. How about that kind of thing? That’s just like another element to this movie that’s like unlike anything anyone has ever done in a way, so that’s pretty cool.
How did you get involved, how did you get the role?
Chris: Ooh well I got involved early- probably like let’s see. It was January when I auditioned, but the year after I shot Zero Dark Thirty. I’m trying to figure out the exact year that would be, I guess 2012-13. Did we shoot in twenty thirteen? Yeah boy, all right. Marvel had sort of like circled around me and said, ‘Hey, you know, what about having Chris audition for this role for Guardians of the Galaxy?’ Meanwhile I was like, on the diet roller coaster all the time, so sometimes I was like super fat and sometimes I was super fit. And at that point I was super fat and I was like, oh God, I don’t want to go audition for this and be told no, so, uh, no, I don’t think so. And the couple of times they asked me, I wasn’t sure about it. I know James Gunn definitely wasn’t interested in having (laughing) me in the movie at first. You know, he was like, there was a bit of an identity crisis, for I know I was having one of who I was as an actor. And I think he was about who his Peter Quinn was going to be. Meanwhile he was testing more and more people and it just wasn’t working. And then you know, I saw the movie Zero Dark Thirty in the theaters for the first time. And I kind of forgot that I had gotten in good shape for that and that I played this character, (we all laugh) I did!
And I was like, oh my gosh, that’s right, I can do that. Because it’s, you know, when I saw it, I had already put on like forty pounds in like a month after shooting. I thought wait a minute, maybe I should be trying to do action-y kind of movies, ’cause I bought it. Like until seeing that movie I had kind of forgotten that I had done that. I didn’t know I was capable of that. And so then I said, ‘but I want to do it with some comedic elements and kind of bring my own personality into it’ and my manager said, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’. I said, oh shoot okay, maybe, you know what, why not, let’s go after it and just see, let’s have a conversation. And that’s kind of how I, how we got in. And then James was like, Chris, hey look- it’s Chris (laughter all around)!
That was really it. I auditioned and he saw something in me and what he said to me (about the direction of this film) I was really on board with. I wanted to do something in action, I wanted to do something with comedy. I wanted to breathe my own spirit into it and I thought there was nothing out there that was going to let me do that. I thought maybe I’d have to try to develop something or write something, and when he said, look, I just want somebody to come in and do their thing, and you know, just own it. There have been many incarnations of this character, there can be another one. I just want someone to come in and own this thing. And I just thought, all right, here I go, I’m going to try and own it. And I did.
Yes, he did. And he did it so well! He’s so funny and I feel he’s very deserving of what’s to come with this film.
Is there any added pressure being the face of a new franchise?
Chris: Oh, I guess if I was smart, I would feel pressure on both of them, but I kind of don’t (laughing). I don’t know. It’s a really good question. The pressure doesn’t really fall on us, I don’t think, or on the actors as much as it does on the studios, you know. They have more to lose than we do, I mean, they’re spending all the money for it- we’re just hired to do a job. I guess there’s pressure with both, but they set you up so you don’t really feel that pressure. They don’t want you to fail, they want you to do well and they do everything they can to make sure you do well. So it’s kind of nice.
Being a Marvel super hero now, were you a fan of the Guardians before or know anything about them, or a fan of comics?
Chris: Okay that’s a good question. I was a comic book fan probably eighth grade ninth grade tenth grade right around that time, I think it was – maybe even earlier, sixth grade on. I was a fan of comic books. I didn’t have a lot, like we didn’t have a ton of money growing up, and so comic books are actually kind of not expensive, but if you’re broke everything is expensive, you know. So I didn’t have a ton of ‘em, my friends had a lot of them. I would like to draw the pictures out of them. There are a lot of artists in my family, we would like to draw and paint and things like that. And so I loved the artistry, I loved the characters, and what they were, just the physicality of the heroes. I just like was a big fan of that and was always drawing comic book heroes. And so I was a huge fan of the comic books and there was one time that I won three hundred bucks playing Bingo with my mom and bought three hundred bucks worth of comic books. And one of them was a Guardians of the Galaxy comic book and it was right around that time I guess in 1991 there was an incarnation of it.
For me the stories weren’t what grabbed me, it was the covers and it was the cool art on the inside and the outside. So it was more the pictures that grabbed me. I collected a Ghost Rider, the one with the glow in the dark cover, I had a Bart Man number one. I had a stack of Richie Riches I got at a garage sale, old, old ones. And I had a big stack of Conan I think it was the Samarian or something. They were really sexy. I remember, I was like a kid, they were like- they were kind of like the closest thing I had to smut were like these things (again has us all laughing) Conan Comic Books. I had one called Icon. I had the Infinity gauntlets. Of course some Spider Man, some X-Men, some Wolverine, a lot- Punisher Twenty-ninety-nine was another one I collected.
What was your most memorable moment while filming?
Chris: That very first day, the very first day we were on a set in an area that’s called Morag, which is in the movie. So Morag is a real set, it looks so fantastical and I don’t know, like it’s just such an epic set. You assume it’s all green screen. The thing was a real set. We’re outside at Longcross Studios, I’ll never forget this.
I was wearing Quill’s long jacket for the first time. Actually another great moment is the first time I put that jacket on and walked, I was like, oh my God, the jacket was totally telling me how Peter Quill would walk. So, I’m running, there’s a wind blowing like probably sixty seventy miles an hour, rain machines, guys are shooting real water from real ponds, hundreds of feet up in the air. And we’re on an outdoor set that’s probably a hundred and fifty yards long, a hundred and fifty yards wide. So it’s a massive like two football fields put together with green screen all the way around these giant like shipping containers stacked like ninety feet high. So there’s an element of green screen around the entire horizon, but on the inside it was like a sea had just drained out and it revealed this city that had been underwater for ten thousand years. So that was the moment where I thought, holy crap. This is happening. I’m on this movie and it’s going to be epic.
How does it feel knowing you’re an iconic hero for younger kids of this generation?
Chris: Oh my gosh that is to me the greatest part of all this. I remember pretending to be Han Solo in my backyard, or pretending to be Indiana Jones, or Luke Skywalker as a kid. I mean, like this, comic books and storytelling of this magnitude is what really helped me cultivate my imagination as a young kid. And to think that kids are going to be out and they’re going to watch this and they’re going to feel that way. I’ve been Googling synonyms for surreal just to try to help explain what it feels like. (we all laugh) It’s really cool. And I think to me, that’s like by far the very greatest feeling is that I’m going to be a hero to these kids. They’re going to dress up like me for Halloween.
How does it feel to have an action figure doll made of yourself?
Chris: That, that to me is pretty crazy it’s, pretty weird. My friend has a Peter Quill doll that you push a button and my voice comes out of it. Yeah, so my friends treat me like Flat Stanley. (Laughing) Everywhere we go they’re taking pictures of me (the doll) -“oh look at Star Lord, Star Lord at Subway”.
Do you have a favorite behind the scenes moment?
Chris: Oh man, well James kept telling me over and over that he was going to replace me. (laughing) It kind of became an ongoing joke that he kept pitching different ideas for actors, who he was going to put their face on my face, at the end of the movie. Which, by the way, I never was offended by. I thought it was funny every time he said it. And that was really maybe my favorite part about filming this movie was the relationship I had with James in terms of our comedy, it matches up really well. It’s super inappropriate (Laughing) and we’re constantly trying to outdo one another in terms of our inappropriateness. And so we say some pretty shocking and terrible things that we’d be laughing at, but it was kind of, I don’t know, it was like a survival mechanism, or something like that, that was probably the most memorable joke.
Was there improv on the set?
Chris: You know, we had a little bit of room. But not a lot. I mean, when you’re shooting on a movie like this, you’ve got to think in terms of seconds, seconds will cost thousands of dollars. You know. They roll that film and it is costing money. So if you’re going to improv, you better nail it. Because if you blow a take trying a joke that no one knew about and you just kind of spit it out, you’re wasting time and money and everybody is there doing a job that takes six months to do. So that being said, I did improv a lot (laughter from everyone) and I probably wasted a lot of money. But some of it made it into the movie and so, you know, maybe it was worth it.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY opens in theaters everywhere on August 1st!
*I was invited by Disney and Marvel to be part of the Guardians of the Galaxy Event. All opinions as always are my own.