Chris Pratt
Photo by Smallz & Raskind

Chris Pratt: “I’m not going to freak out”

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Short Profile

Name: Christopher Michael Pratt
DOB: 21 June 1979
Place of birth: Virginia, Minnesota, USA
Occupation: Actor

Mr. Pratt, did you have any nicknames growing up?

Monkey boy and rat boy. I think both of them came from my dad. Rat boy because I had huge ears and teeth, the same ears and teeth as I have now, but on a tiny little pinhead. My head didn’t really grow until much later and I looked like a rat. Monkey boy… I don’t know where that came from, but my best friend and everybody call me monkey boy.

What do your parents do?

My mom is a checker at a grocery store called Safeway. My dad is dead, but he was a construction guy. He worked hard, he was a worker. Worked in the mines and stuff. It’s a good place to come from. You know the value of money. I remember as a kid we had so little money that if someone asked me if I read comic books, I’d be like, “No! Comic books are expensive.” And they’d be like, “What do you mean? They are three bucks.” But if you don’t have three bucks then that is expensive! I know what it is like to not ask for anything. Like, just being smart enough to not even ask. What is the point? Eventually you stop asking…

You wear your shoes until they have holes in them…

Yeah, three sizes too small, toes sticking out the front. That was the worst. We always had the lamest shoes. And shoes were so important as a kid! Once I won 85 bucks playing bingo with my mom and I bought a pair of Reebok Pumps. Dude, I wore those shoes for three years. They got so small for me that I had to take a razor and cut the pump out to buy myself some more space. You could still see the basketball on the tongue but there was no pump system in there. I loved those pumps. I always had fucked up shoes. Every year I would get butterflies in my stomach when I see the shoes that I had to wear that year.

Chris Pratt as Andy Dwyer in the TV series Parks and Recreation, confessing his darkest secrets.

Well obviously things are different for you now. Jurassic World recently had the highest-grossing global opening ever and Guardians of the Galaxy was one of the biggest blockbusters of 2014. How does your family feel about your success?

You know, it’s pretty weird. My brother is super supportive and always has been. He has hugely shaped who I am today. He gives me shit and keeps me grounded which is nice. But it’s an interesting situation because sometimes it’s the people that are closest to you that it can be hardest on. They’re like, “What the fuck dude? How did you stumble into an awesome acting career when I’m working 40 hours a week at a job that I don’t necessarily love just to barely keep my head above water?” It happened to me and I’m grateful, but I know that it can be extra hard on people that are closest to me, because it gives you some sort of skewed perspective. It would have been different if I were younger, so I think there is a reason that it’s happening now.

What would that be?

I’ve gleaned enough wisdom through some experiences to understand what is going on a little bit and hopefully not become a huge toolbox through all of this. I think when you are younger and hit a certain level of success you can lose perspective really quickly. I’ve struggled enough and it’s been a slow enough growth that I’m not going to freak out or anything. Hopefully! We’ll see. Mark my words… “Chris Pratt found naked high on meth on I-405 claiming he was abducted by aliens.” We’ll see when I have my mental breakdown. We’ll come back to this interview.

Didn’t you live in a van on the beach before you became an actor?

Yeah. I was a salesman for a couple of years, but I was busted and broke and hated it, so I retired when I was 19 and one of my best friends, still my best friend to this day, bought me a one-way ticket to Maui where he had been living since high school. It is a pretty awesome and epic place to be homeless. It would be different if I lived on the streets of Chicago and ate garbage from the dumpster. We just camped, smoked a bunch of weed, and drank and worked minimal hours, like 15 -20 hours a week, just enough to cover gas and food and fishing supplies. I don’t think it would be so cool if I was 35 and still living there, but it was charming at the time. We were truly living the dream; it was awesome.

“I could never have fathomed that I would say no to a paying acting gig.”

Now you’re married, have a son, and you’re the star of two major Hollywood franchises. Is this living the dream for you at 35?

This is getting close, yeah. The dream is always evolving though. Originally the dream was to pay my bills by doing nothing other than acting. I got there and that was great. Then it was great to extend it more and more. Then it was like pay my bills doing nothing but acting, but also do roles that are more than just the douche, the bad guy. Those are the roles that I was originally getting. Then it was to do sidekick roles, and then it was to do comedy and pay my bills doing that. Now I’ve crossed over this line where I actually say no to stuff. I could never have fathomed that I would say no to a paying acting gig.

Most actors can’t afford to.

I would sell dog food, I don’t care. I would do a commercial for fucking herpes medication if you wanted me to – gladly! Just as long as I didn’t have to wait tables again, I was stoked. So the dream was constantly changing and I guess now the dream is something like doing these blockbuster movies and being part of these franchises that I loved growing up, like Jurassic World. And Guardians of the Galaxy is a movie that I would love as an audience member and that I would have loved growing up. And then being able to have some creative control over the stuff that I write and create and also to take some time off and have some time with my son on my own living room couch. That is the dream right now! It would be so surreal to me to be at home on my couch right now. I’d be like, “This is crazy, I can’t believe this.” I haven’t been home for years.