Last month, we unveiled a feature centered on 5 TV Comedy Actors Turned Movie Stars (5 More Who Floundered), which essentially showed that making the leap from small screen acclaim to big screen success isn’t always easy. There are a number of factors that can hobble even the biggest TV star—audience tastes are always liable to change, a comedian’s humor may not translate to a feature format—but few could’ve imagined that of all the comedic talent on network television over the past half dozen years or so, it would be Chris Pratt who would be selected to lead three major film franchises.
But to be fair to Pratt, he’s put in the work. The actor logged nearly 90 episodes on "Everwood," plus a stint on "The O.C." before leaping to "Parks and Recreation," where he plays the schlubby, goofy, but warmhearted Andy Dwyer. And at first even executives balked when the actor went for higher profile roles. Pratt notably read for the lead parts in both "Avatar" and "Star Trek," but didn’t get them. “They said they want somebody that has ‘that thing,’ that ‘It factor’ … 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 … I figured, I’ll find a way to make money and if that means I’m playing character roles, that’s terrific," he told Entertainment Weekly last month. "People have to work. I just don’t want it to be at a f—ing restaurant.”
And it’s character roles that Pratt landed. The actor established himself as a utility player, turning in good performances with small parts in Bennett Miller‘s "Moneyball" and Kathryn Bigelow‘s "Zero Dark Thirty." And while that may have helped put him back on the radar for tentpole gigs, Pratt himself admits he was reluctant, and even initially turned down "Guardians Of The Galaxy." “I was probably scared,” he said. “And thought I was too fat to play a super hero. I didn’t want another Captain Kirk or ‘Avatar’ moment.”
But he certainly made the right choice. ‘Galaxy’ is expected to open big this weekend, it will be the second blockbuster opening under Pratt’s belt, following his lead voice turn in the smash hit "The Lego Movie" earlier this year. And all of that must be making Universal feel pretty good about "Jurassic World," which Pratt also leads, opening next summer. But is Pratt Hollywood’s next big star? Will he become a bankable name? That’s still yet to be proven, and it’s not an easy road to get there.
All one has to do is look at the Marvel-verse. Chris Hemsworth, the hammer wielding Thor, hasn’t exactly shone outside of tentpole projects, with last year’s "Rush" barely making any traction at the box office. Or there’s Captain America, Chris Evans, who has been in movies like "What’s Your Number?" and "The Iceman" that you probably forgot about. And same goes for Andrew Garfield, who outside "The Amazing Spider-Man" isn’t a marquee draw.
All that said, what is important is that Pratt has clearly proven he can be likeable, relatable and carry screen presence with some to spare, and that in itself is a skill few have. He’s got natural charisma, and has already proven he can do both drama and comedy with ease (or put them together with his own distinct trademark), so his future is bright. With the right scripts and choices, Pratt can certainly establish himself as the next actor everyone knows the name of. But for now, he’s Star-Lord, Andy Dwyer and in next year’s "Jurassic World," Owen. The film opens on June 12, 2015. New image up top, and Comic-Con poster below.