By Mary Milliken
BURBANK Calif. (Reuters) – Chris Pratt could have just stuck with his humorous sidekick roles and indulged in the eating and drinking that accompanies marital bliss with wife and fellow actor Anna Faris.
But then a door unexpectedly opened to a lead role as Peter Quill in Marvel Studios’ new movie franchise “Guardians of the Galaxy,” a big-budget, humor-filled outer-space adventure opening in U.S. theaters Friday.
With a more buff physique than his doughy character Andy Dwyer on TV’s “Parks and Recreation,” Pratt combines cocky and dorky into an unlikely leader of a band of outcasts bent on saving the galaxy.
The 35-year-old Pratt talked to Reuters about trusting his fanboy director, the humiliation of auditioning for action roles and the ability to provide for his wife and kid now that he’s a leading man.
Q: How did you deal with the big responsibility of establishing a franchise for Marvel?
A: Most of the responsibility falls on James Gunn as our director and trusty leader. James was the perfect guy to do it because he is a huge fanboy himself. He was able to guide us in terms of justifying certain things. He will say ‘You can’t do that, that wouldn’t make sense.’ And I say ‘There’s a talking raccoon standing next to me. Why does that make sense?’ And he’s like ‘Trust me!’ And so I did.
Q: Did you have any doubts about taking on this role?
A: Yes I did. The casting director contacted my manager a couple of times before I was willing to go in and read for it. At the time, it was a little cloudy in terms of defining myself as an actor. I didn’t know who I was and what I was capable of doing. I had done a lot of sidekick characters, I had put on a lot of weight over the eight years I had been with my wife. We’d been in love and eating fabulous foods and drinking wine and I was getting more work than before by playing the schlubby sidekick characters.
I had been embarrassed doing auditions where I was 35 or 30 pounds overweight and I wasn’t mentally or physically sharp. Like ‘GI Joe,’ I could see their eyes glaze over halfway through the audition and that hurts your feelings (laughs).
Q: You were born in 1979, so what do you think about the film’s 70s soundtrack?
A: This movie has a great soundtrack. It definitely sets a tone and creates a sentimental feeling. Even though I wasn’t around for the 70s, I feel like I know what the 70s felt like because it really was defined by its music. Back then it was really one kind of awesome progressive music. I think it was a brilliant choice to thread this movie with that great music.
Q: What does this role mean for your career now?
A: It’s definitely opened the door for me to play a more leading man character. I got the role in “Jurassic World” because of the buzz about this character before anything was released about this movie. People were willing to take my phone calls or my agent’s phone calls just because I was in this.
It is stability. I have a family, a wife and a child, and I think there is a likelihood that I’ll be working for this company for maybe a decade. That is nice because in this business you don’t always know what your next job is going to be.
I think it really works and it is a new kind of tone that I think a lot of people are going to attempt. So maybe that means that if this tone is something people were hungry for, I’ll be able to do more movies that are similar to it. But then again, it probably means nothing (laughs).
(Reporting by Mary Milliken; Editing by Piya Sinha-Roy and Jonathan Oatis)