Chris Pratt Paid Thousands for a Movie Role in 2003

September 25, 2016

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!


Chris Pratt’s Message to Anyone Chasing a Dream

January 31, 2016

“Go get it.”— Chris Pratt

While in transit in Atlanta, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 star Chris Pratt posted an inspiring message to “anyone chasing a dream” on Instagram. After describing his intensive work pace due to knocking out both the Guardians sequel and the sci-fi film Passengers at once, he reflects on his younger days before he found success as an actor.

“It’s 3:20am. I got picked up for work at 6:45am yesterday. I’m not good with math, especially after being up for approximately 61 hours but I think I’ve been up for over 77 hours. I did a table read for Guardians of the Galaxy 2 this morning and shot all day on Passengers and just now wrapped some 144 hours later. Weirdly both films, which il’l be shooting back to back, are being shot in Atlanta at Pinewood studios. We have the best crew. Total rock stars busting their asses. And the stuff we’re shooting. My God. I can’t wait for you to see it. I go back in in about 8 hours to do more. I am doing what I love. It doesn’t feel like work. Even though it is. I’m having fun. I’m overcome with joy and gratitude. I felt like posting this to say to anyone out there chasing your dream… Fifteen years ago I felt the same passion I feel today, but I had very little opportunity. I had to hustle hard and go hungry. I had to eat sardines and figure out how to get gas money. And I never had a plan B. I never stopped believing. Ever. Don’t give up. Apply constant pressure for as long as it takes. It will break before you do. Go get it.”

Before his career took off, Pratt was a college dropout, sold discount tickets, and dabbled in daytime stripping. But when a friend bought him a plane ticket to Hawaii he ventured there only to end up homeless in Maui. He has described how he and his friend slept in a van, smoked weed, drank, and worked as little as possible–namely, just enough to afford living essentials like gas and food. As it turns out, at the age of 19 he was discovered by director Rae Dawn Chong while waiting tables at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, and was cast in the short horror comedy Cursed Part 3 which was never released. But being discovered doesn’t mean things came easy for Chris after that. As the film never went anywhere, Chris kept pushing his dream further any way he could. He took small roles that came his way until he was cast in his breakout role as Andy Dwyer in Parks and Recreation; the character was initially intended to be temporary, but Pratt was so liked by the producers that his part evolved into a series regular. And he experienced rejection when auditioning for leading roles in the sci-fi films Avatar and Star Trek; after his Avatar audition, Chris described the humbling experience by saying, “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.” So a few years later, when he was given the opportunity to audition for the role of Guardians of the Galaxy‘s Star-Lord, he hesitated because he didn’t want to experience “another Captain Kirk or Avatar moment.” But when the director James Gunn met Pratt, Gunn quickly became convinced he’d found his leading man.

How far along are you in your professional aspirations? Are you applying “constant pressure for as long as it takes”? Are you undaunted by the inherent rejection of the profession? Have you never stopped believing? Please share!

Passengers is expected to be released in December 2016, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 will come out in 2017.

Chris Pratt Shares His ‘Awesome’ Creative Acting Techniques

June 8, 2015

Have you ever created your own acting technique? Rather than rely solely on the tools you learned in your Method acting or improv class, perhaps you came up with a helpful technique that was specifically well-suited to the way you do things. Well, that’s what Guardians of the Galaxy actor, Chris Pratt seems to relish doing. Pratt recently shared with GQ Magazine that although he might appear like he’s often playing the funny man and not be taking things seriously, that he actually is quite cerebral when it comes to his work.

When discussing his role of failed-lawyer Brett in the Vince Vaughn movie Delivery Man, Pratt revealed, “I came up with some awesome techniques on that movie that I still use.” Using color associations to impact his emotions, he explains, “In that movie, I used bright orange, like a blaze of orange, as a reminder that my [character’s] mother doesn’t seem to believe in me and that she believes I’m a failure.” So, while on set, Chris strategically stuck Post-it notes off camera and within his line of vision to catch his attention during the scene. “And it would affect me emotionally underneath,” he said.

Additionally, it’s pretty common for actors to use music to tune into the various moods their characters are experiencing, but here’s how Pratt makes the most out of his music in order to affect the “rhythm of [his] spirit.” He stores a hundred-plus songs on his phone under the category of “Acting Music,” and then files them into further groupings like “Love,” “Sadness,” “Wonderment,” and “Action.” From there, he renames each musical piece with specific imagery that arouses strong, distinctive feelings. For example, under the “Sadness” file are choices to listen to like “Leaving Home,” “Brother’s Funeral,” and “European Town in Ruins.”

Another technique Chris talked about was one he admitted to finding while searching on the internet. He imagines which animal his character most resembles, and lets that inform the posture he’ll use as he moves. For instance, while playing Velociraptor trainer Owen Grady in the upcoming Jurassic World, Pratt likened him to a dolphin, explaining, “They lead with their forehead.”

They say inventions are born out of necessity, and sometimes actors need something to pull them through a scene or gig. What kind of creative tools do you use when challenged to take your performances to the next level?