When you think of Chris Pratt, you might think: movie star, action hero, making millions per film. He’s the explosive-loving gambler in The Magnificent Seven, a velociraptor trainer in Jurassic World, a Navy SEAL in Zero Dark Thirty, the superhero Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy, and even a space traveler alongside Jennifer Lawrence in the soon-to-be released Passengers. 

But before he made it big time, Chris was a guy living in Los Angeles, struggling to land roles–even paying for the opportunity to act. Take, for instance, in 2003 when casting calls opened for the love interest of Amy Sedaris’ character in the movie Strangers with Candy. Pratt recently sat down on Late Night with Stephen Colbert, and revealed that he spent thousands of dollars for the part of musclebound high school student, Brason.

“Did you know that movie cost me $3,000 to be in? This is a testament to how much we love doing what we do that we would pay to do it,” he told Colbert.

Trying to stay on budget, the New York-based production opened auditions for the role for local hire only. That meant only actors from the New Jersey or New York area need apply because travel fees and hotels were not going to happen.

But Chris told Colbert, “I was hungry. I wanted the role.” So he opted to pay the airfare himself, flew to New York, and pretended he was a local.

In other words, the aspiring actor was willing to risk losing a significant amount of money, even knowing he would likely be turned down for the role. After all, the only guarantee made to auditioning actors is that there are no guarantees. But, alas, Chris landed the part! And, since the job paid a little something, he hoped to break even after all was said and done.

The bluffing actor tried to keep expenses down while in New York by couch surfing as much as possible, and staying in hotels. But, he said, “It would have broke about even, but in the middle I had to fly home for one weekend.” Apparently, he had a warrant for his arrest and needed to pay an insurance ticket.

Now Pratt insists, “It was still worth it.” He had the chance to act with legends like Paul Dinello, Amy Sedaris, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Stephen Colbert–among others–who were cast in the movie as well.

Strangers with Candy was released in 2005, first screening at the Sundance Film Festival. It received mixed reviews, and lost about a million at the box office. And now Colbert jokes that it’s considered “a cult classic.” 

A few years later, Pratt landed the part of Andy Dwyer in Parks and Recreation which gained him a lot of attention and advanced his acting career.

Actors face many decisions in the course of their journeys. Which roles are worth pursuing? Which roles come with some sort of a price tag? Strangers with Candy didn’t seem to be much of a critical or box-office success at the time, but clearly Chris Pratt has no regrets. He made the most of this and many other opportunities that came his way–and it’s certainly paid off!