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Chris Pratt: From 'Parks' to 'World'



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Chris Pratt in a scene from "Jurassic World." (Image courtesy Universal Pictures) Universal Pictures and Universal Pictures Buy Photos

The essential trait found in the biggest male movie stars is men want to be him and women want to marry him, and vice versa. The guy has to appeal to all of the things we desire to see in ourselves.

We want to be brave yet not take ourselves too seriously. We want to be attractive but with a strong head on our shoulders.

But the person who grew up gorgeous his whole life may not be the most empathetic, and the man who is career-oriented may not be the most personable.

Then comes an actor who worked as a coupon salesman and daytime stripper. A guy who was temporarily homeless in Hawaii smoking weed and listening to Dr. Dre’s “2001” all day. He earned small roles in TV shows and made a name for himself as the goofy, chubby friend in comedies.

Now Chris Pratt may be the biggest movie star on the planet, and it might be because of his background.

His reputation until about a year ago was as the nonsensically lovable Andy Dwyer on “Parks and Recreation.” He played idiots and utilized any opportunity to show off his doughy physique for a laugh.

He didn’t even see this future for himself. He told “Entertainment Weekly” when his high school wrestling coach asked him what he wanted to do with his life, he didn’t have much of an answer.

“I was like, ‘I don’t know, but I know I’ll be famous, and I know I’ll make a shit ton of money,’” Pratt said. “I had no idea how. I’d done nothing proactive. It was as dumb as someone saying, ‘I’ll probably be an astronaut. I’m sure I’ll stumble into an astronaut suit and end up in space one day.’”

Once in Hollywood, he found himself auditioning for blockbuster roles like James T. Kirk in “Star Trek” and Jake Sully in “Avatar” but was turned away.

“They said they want somebody that has ‘that thing’, that ‘it factor’,” Pratt told “Entertainment Weekly.” “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.”

Now Sam Worthington, who played Jake Sully, is taking minor roles in tiny movies while Pratt has been the star of back-to-back summer blockbusters. This is probably because of the fact Pratt has “that thing” and those guys do not. He has relatability mixed with superiority, and we love it.

Where did Pratt’s turn from goofball to movie star begin?

I would say it started in 2011 with two small roles in two polar opposite movies. In the Oscar-nominated “Moneyball,” he lost 30 pounds to play struggling baseball player Scott Hatteberg, and he brought a delicate combination of likability and weight to the character. Then he put the weight back on for the high school reunion comedy “10 Years,” where he killed a role as the former class clown who now has to settle in to being a father and working man.

He brought depth to silly characters in both films and displayed great range as an actor, even in small parts. He did the same thing in “The Five Year Engagement,” but it was when he got himself into Navy Seal-type shape to play a member of Seal Team Six in “Zero Dark Thirty” heads began to turn.

Wait, this chubby funny man can look like that? Calls began to come in and it seemed possible that he could anchor a movie if he could add a gorgeous body to his lovable charm.

When rumors spread he had earned leading roles in a new Marvel movie and “Jurassic World,” a mixture of skepticism and happiness surfaced. I was confused, but I thought he deserved to do big things.

Twenty minutes into “Guardians of the Galaxy” I knew Pratt had “that thing.” The common comparison is Harrison Ford, and it is not far off. But he is also his own style. George Clooney and Matt Damon are good looking men who are surprisingly likable; Pratt brings charisma well before he brings appearance.

His personality comes first, which is why his background as a struggling mess led to his dominance of the box office. He was not always the “it guy,” so he is relatable.

The future could be whatever Pratt wants. He could start doing more serious roles or continue to rule this genre of comedy-filled action movies.

Regardless, I am in for the ride.

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