First things first – a philosophical question to start us off on our Prattish journey:
Andy Dwyer: The best thing about Parks and Recreation?
It’s an exceptionally big question – made more difficult by the fact that Andy is a surprisingly complex character. While he may come across as a bit of a schlub initially, there are moments of kindness and hilarity that give him a lot of depth over the show’s seven seasons. But while you’re pondering this grand metaphysical question, we’ll travel back to a time when Chris Pratt was a mere twinkle in our eyes. Unimaginable, isn’t it?
However, when you really think about it, it wasn’t until Marvel scooped him up for the role of Peter Quill in Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014 that Pratt really hit the big time. Now you can’t turn a corner without seeing his face, whether it’s on a movie poster for his upcoming film Passengers, or a Star Lord bobblehead on the shelves of HMV; Chris Pratt is everywhere. And we should all be celebrating that fact.
Star Lord Begins
Every hero needs an origin story – and this is Pratt’s. We first saw Chris Pratt’s slightly doughier physique on the series Parks and Recreation when it debuted back in 2009. Playing the (initially temporary) character Andy Dwyer, Pratt had such a likability factor in the role that the show decided to extend his contract indefinitely. And it was upon this that Pratt would build his career for the next few years.
From playing Dwyer on Parks between 2009 and 2015, the interim years should be referred to as Pratt’s ‘soul-searching’ era, where he was typecast into every rom-com going. Due to his likability and his cuddly body type, Pratt was either cast as the Douchey Best Friend (DBF) – constantly trying to convince the lead to leave his Nice but Homely Girlfriend for the Girlfriend 2.0 – or as the secondary love interest of the Best Friend. This can be seen in some of his early hits, usually blink-and-you’ll-miss-it roles, such as Bride Wars (2009) and Delivery Man (2013). During this early period, it seemed certain that Chris Pratt would never truly hit his stride in a leading role in Hollywood, doomed to repeat the same tropes forever more.
That was, until he lost 14 pounds and people realised he had abs. And boy, did that open doors.
The Rise of the Planet of the Star Lord
Overnight Pratt goes from the happy-go-lucky DBF/love interest role to Marvel’s next rising star. Not only did Pratt land the role as Peter Quill that year (Fun fact: initially Pratt wasn’t even going to audition for GotG after a series of career setbacks and audition turn-downs) but he also landed lead roles in two other massive franchises: Jurassic World (2015) and The Lego Movie (2014).
The best thing about this series of starring roles has to be the fact that Pratt maintains that charm, while also bringing a seriousness to each character (and by that we mean abs). We never actually lost our beloved Andy Dwyer – but now he’s bringing that amiability to the action world. And it’s so far, so good. We can see Andy in Peter Quill’s boyish enthusiasm, in Jurassic World‘s Owen’s… same boyish enthusiasm, and in Lego Movie‘s Emmett’s continuous optimism. It’s all rather endearing. But honestly, he’s been perfect and pure comedy gold in all of the roles he’s been in since 2014.
And we can’t attribute Pratt’s success purely to his weight-loss – we need to talk more about Pratt’s fantastic voice performance as Emmett in The Lego Movie. With so much avid anticipation for many years before release, and a deep, nostalgic love for all things Lego, The Lego Movie swept a cool $69 million at the box office on its opening weekend and became a firm household favourite within days. It was with this that Chris Pratt had officially arrived.
With this being said, does anyone mind if we fangirl over Guardians of the Galaxy for a minute more? Action-packed, hilarious, the introduction into many cinemagoers’ lives of the phrase “I am Groot” (of which there are many uses) all accompanied by a banging ’70s soundtrack. Guardians was one of the best things to happen to us in 2014 – and it’s going to happen again. And soon.
Star Lord: Beyond
Let’s talk about the future – starting with Pratt’s upcoming role as James Preston in Passengers. All we really know so far is that it stars Jennifer Lawrence (great), Chris Pratt (if you don’t already know that this is great, you obviously haven’t been paying attention), and it’s set on a futuristic spaceship. Cue romance, explosions of unconfirmed origin, and some robots. If experience is anything to go by, Pratt is pretty much guaranteed to do well in this environment. And (please god) don’t confuse this with 2008’s Passengers starring Anne Hathaway and Patrick Wilson. Fingers crossed, they’ll be on completely different playing fields.
Moving swiftly on – Passengers looks pretty awesome, and if past performance is indicative, then Pratt is well and truly game for the role. Throw in his stellar performance in The Magnificent Seven earlier this year, and Chris Pratt is set to have yet another phenomenal year on the big screen. With Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 slated for a 2017 release, and space for another Star Lord appearance in 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War, there are only good things on the way for Chris Pratt. And just like his breakout roles in 2014, his upcoming films are definitely going to be worth the wait.
And one last thing – yes, Andy Dwyer is obviously the best thing about Parks and Rec. Duh.