SINGAPORE, June 10 — It’s on record that everyone genuinely adores break-out action star Chris Pratt — from actress-director Rae Dawn Chong who “discovered” him when he was working at Bubba Gump Shrimp restaurant in Maui back in early 2000, to James Gunn, director of “Guardians of the Galaxy”, who initially didn’t even want to audition Pratt. “But he was so good, I thought, ‘If we have the first chubby superhero, then fine!’” said Gunn at the time.
Sitting across from us, all chisel-jawed, buff bod and yet so unpretentiously affable, it’s easy to see why Pratt is the perfect leading man for the fourth film in the Jurassic Park franchise, “Jurassic World” where, as velociraptor “trainer” Owen Grady, he tries to save the day after things at the infamous man-made dinosaur park go awry. Again.
The 36-year-old is everybody’s favourite hero of the moment because Pratt is everything we want our modern-day action hero to be in real life: Strong, attractive, funny and charismatic, while still retaining that loveable and relatable vibe. After all, apart from transforming from dad-bod to hot dad, scene-stealing as loveable dope Andy Dwyer in TV’s “Parks & Recreation” and making blockbuster hit after hit, he is married to actress Anna Faris and has a son Jack. Oh, he dressed up as his “Guardians of the Galaxy” character, Star-Lord, to visit kids in hospital too. How can one not like him?
But today, we’re talking about dinosaurs, specifically those inhabiting the “Jurassic Park” world. Pratt said “Jurassic World” isn’t only about dinos going on rampage — although, admittedly, that does take up a bulk of the action scenes. “This is a franchise that is very beloved, there’s an entire generation of people who would be pretty mad if you screw it up,” he said. “That’s why it took such a long time for this chapter of the story to come out, because the idea itself needed time to cook and it needed a reason to tell the story now.”
He added, “Our relationship with science has changed dramatically in 22 years since the first movie. We are a different people from the people who first saw dinosaurs. We are not impressed by the things that surround us anymore, you know? And this movie deals with themes that are very timely — not just our relationship with science and how it’s changed, but also the classic theme that you can’t meddle with nature. They had to find a way to make it relevant.”
For Pratt though, being in the movie is an exciting prospect: The star has been a fan of the franchise since the first film. “The specific memory I can recall is probably the idea of the anticipation I had in seeing this movie. The trailer looked so good to me and the dinosaurs looked so real. I just remembered it was my first event movie and I really wanted to see it. I had to wait a couple of weeks for it to open and I was the first in line at the cinema. It was a big part of my childhood. (I was) 13 years old, (it was) my first event movie, a big deal to me as a kid!”
You’ve made a name of yourself playing such loveable anti-heroes. Do you actively seek out roles as such?
Chris Pratt: For a long time as an actor, I was actively seeking out any role, I would just audition for anything. Every job I got was the result of someone else making a creative decision to hire me. For the most part, they hired somebody else. And from time to time, they would hire me. That was how I got work for the better part of the decade. Then in the past couple of years, things shifted. I got to be more in control of those creative decisions. In terms of picking out which role I wanted to play, I just sort of made it material-specific and film-maker dependent. Whether it speaks to me when I read the script, whether I see myself reading the words.
If you could choose, would you rather do action or comedy?
CP: I like it all. I love action movies. I grew up loving action movies. Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jean Claude van Damme and Chuck Norris — all these action guys. And Jackie Chan in “Rumble in the Bronx”! He did all his stunts and these amazing fight sequences! And I love Bruce Lee. I wanted to be Bruce Lee! But I did stand-up comedy and I’ve always been more drawn to comedy, so instinctively, my formula moved towards comedy. Now, I am trying to do a combination of both. I don’t know whether I like one more than the other. I like to do roles where I can fuse them both together but, you know, film is not necessarily an actor’s medium. It’s a director’s medium and so I try to do my best to help a director fulfil his vision.
You mentioned you like to use animals as a reference when you’re acting. So why did you think of dolphins for the character of Owen Grady?
CP: Because they like to fight, fish and fornicate! (laughs) Those are the three things that dolphins like to do and I thought Owen would really like to do them too! And I figured Owen was a combat veteran who worked closely with marine animals, because I know some branches of the Navy use dolphins in warfare... so I figured out he himself was a dolphin.
Your co-star Bryce Dallas Howard can’t stop gushing about how you’re such an unbelievable father and husband; so how do you balance family with this explosive career of yours?
CP: I am still learning. I don’t know. I hope I can be good. My mother and father-in-law come for one week every month, and spend a lot of time with Jack. We also have help: A nanny who, when Anna and I are working, is very close to Jack. I try to spend at least some time with him every day when I’m gone — through Skype, a phone call or a video that I’ll send him. Just trying to be a constant presence in his life. Ultimately... probably a little further down the road, I (may) have to turn some jobs down because I haven’t spent enough time with him. I think that will be when it’ll be decided. Because he’s way more important to me than show business. — TODAY