LOS ANGELES, April 22, (Agencies): Action star Chris Pratt swapped his superhero gear for a formal suit Friday as he was awarded a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame for his contribution to cinema.
Pratt, 37, found fame as loveable slacker Andy Dwyer on NBC comedy “Parks and Recreation” but has since become one of Hollywood’s most sought-after leading men thanks to roles in “Jurassic World” and Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
“I’m a man of faith and I believe that God works in mysterious ways, and gives us signs and gifts in life. And those gifts oftentimes come in the form of people,” he said, paying tribute to his mother.
“Oftentimes we weren’t cash-rich but we were never love-poor,” he told a crowd on Hollywood Boulevard that included “Guardians” co-stars Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista and Michael Rooker.
The actor thanked filmmaker James Gunn for casting him as Star-Lord in “Guardians” — a role he said had changed “so many lives,” from children in hospital to his real estate agent — and acknowledged Marvel for “taking a chance on the chubby guy from ‘Parks and Rec.’”
He also paid a lengthy tribute to his wife, the actress Anna Faris, telling her: “Without you, none of this would mean anything.”
Pratt, once a moderately successful TV actor, went to great lengths to build an action hero’s physique and was rewarded with his first major lead part in 2014’s “Guardians,” which went on to gross more than $770 million worldwide.
The sequel, due out on May 5, is expected to do even bigger business.
Pratt also starred in 2015 monster movie reboot “Jurassic World,” the fourth-highest grossing film of all time, and is due to reprise the role of dinosaur trainer Owen Grady in the sequel, due out in 2018.
“Five years ago, I said to reporters Chris Pratt is the biggest movie star in the world — it’s just that people don’t know it yet. Well now, here today, people know it,” said Gunn, 46.
Faris, with whom Pratt has a four-year-old boy, showed the crowd a unicorn Pratt had drawn her before giving an unconventional speech thanking the many friends and family who had helped shape her husband.
“I know that if our circumstances were different, and we weren’t as fortunate to be standing here and leading our Hollywood life, we would be happy in the woods together,” she said.
Raised in Lake Stevens, Washington, Pratt studied acting at a local community college for half a semester before moving to Hawaii and living in a van.
He got a job at a Bubba Gump Shrimp Co restaurant where he was discovered by Canadian-American actress Rae Dawn Chong, who gave him a role in her directorial debut, the short horror film “Cursed Part III,” which was never released.
His other film credits include “The Magnificent Seven,” “Passengers,” “Moneyball” and “Zero Dark Thirty.”
Years ago, Chris Pratt went in for a commercial audition that didn’t go so well. “I introduced myself and he looked up at me and said, ‘Do you think you’re attractive?’” Pratt recalls. “I said, ‘I don’t know.’ He said, ‘Thank you.’ And that was it.”
Pratt can laugh now, as “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Jurassic World” have turned him into one of the world’s most bankable action stars. And through it all, Pratt still manages to keep his reputation as one of the nicest guys in the business.
“I had good parents that raised me right,” he says, when asked how he keeps a clear head in the business. “And maybe it had something to do with the fact I’m 37 and moved here when I was 20, and in those 17 years saw the benefits and cost of being an a—— play out in front of me with other people.”
In fact, Pratt admits there was a point early on where he saw stars on set being less than agreeable and worried he didn’t have what it takes. “I thought if these are the people who make it out here, I’m kind of screwed. Then I saw, over time, they didn’t end up having the best careers after all.”
“There’s certainly a pressure now that there wasn’t before,” he notes. “But I think we’ll surpass expectations and still surprise them. The ideas and concepts and themes are so beautiful. We got to heighten the comedy and drama and adventure. I think it’s an even bigger and better movie than the first one.”
Pratt calls casting directors the “unsung heroes” of the business and adds that he owes his career to prominent CDs and filmmakers. Francine Maisler auditioned him for the role of a baseball player in James L. Brooks 2010 film “How Do You Know.”
The part went to Owen Wilson, but, Pratt says it “put a buzz on me.” He adds of Brooks, “The fact that I resonated with him convinced other people maybe I had something special.”
Even better, when Maisler was looking to cast ballplayer Scott Hatteberg in “Moneyball,” she remembered his audition. From there, Pratt says, it was a domino effect. “Bennett Miller cast me in ‘Moneyball’ and Kathryn Bigelow saw me in that and put me in ‘Zero Dark Thirty.’ Then Spike Jonze put me in ‘Her,’” he says. “These were small but important roles in big, dramatic movies that all were nominated for Oscars. That’s when my career started moving away from being the big, dumb guy on ‘Parks and Rec.’”
And there are other movies that are important as well; he cites the 2011 comedy “Take Me Home Tonight” as a personal favorite, as he met his wife, Anna Faris, at the 2007 table read. The two have been married since 2009 and have one child together.
“Choosing films for me is the right combination of story and filmmaker,” he says. “And having a good team to advise you on those decisions. But part of it is a crapshoot, too. And I do feel like one of the luckiest men alive.”