Chris Pratt, on Pushing Onward and Finding Magic

In Pixar’s 'Onward,' the actor voices one of two elf brothers on a journey to look for a little family magic — a quest we can all identify with.

Photo by DFree /

“I don’t know, but I know I’ll be famous and I know I’ll make a ton of money,” Chris Pratt had answered when his high school coach asked him what he planned to do with his life. But it was a long shot: “I had no idea how. I’d done nothing proactive,” the actor says.

After graduating from high school in Washington State in 1997, Chris moved to Hawaii and worked as a waiter in the Maui branch of the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. And there he finally did something that would lead to his own promises coming true. While Chris the waiter was serving Rae Dawn Chong, he turned on his charm and sense of humor to full blast. The actress, who was then about to write and direct a short film, Cursed Part 3, in Los Angeles, immediately cast him.

The short film was never released, but Chris decided to stay in LA and pursue an acting career. He landed his first regular role in the TV series Everwood, which led to more breaks in television and film, including the series The O.C. and Angelina Jolie’s action hit, Wanted. But it was his portrayal of the dimwitted but lovable Andy Dwyer in Parks and Recreation that proved  to be a breakthrough. Then the big movie role offers poured in, and he went from hit to hit, including Zero Dark Thirty, Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic World and Avengers: Infinity War.

Chris has been working almost nonstop, with a slew of new movies done and several in the works: The Tomorrow War, Jurassic World 3, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and Cowboy Ninja Viking.

His personal life has also been on high gear this past year. Formerly married to actress Anna Faris, with whom he has a son, Chris married author Katherine Schwarzenegger in June 2019 — making actor Arnold Schwarzenegger his father-in-law.

Onward is a fantasy film with magic wands, spells and a quest to bring a loved one back to life. If you had a magic wand, what would you use it for?

Tom Holland had a great answer, which was, if he had a magic wand, he would just clean up the oceans. That would be cool if you could just wave a wand and get plastic out of the ocean. I would try to do something to protect the Earth.

What is the magic in your life?

In the film, we see technology eclipsing magic. What was once magic is now much easier to achieve with technology. For me, the magic in my life is departing from technology as much as possible, getting up to the farm and focusing on relationships and people who I love that mean the most to me and who don’t see me through a filter — the people who don’t see me with makeup on, who just know me. They are real and they are my family.

The actor voices Barley Lightfoot (left) in Onward. Photo from Disney.

Does your love for the environment come from your love for fishing and the outdoors?

I’ve always been a big nature conservationist. I think that’s a big part of outdoor culture, or at least American outdoor culture, that’s maybe misunderstood. People look at fishermen or hunters and they think that they are stealing from the environment. But, in fact, we are the major contributors to nature conservation in this country.

President Teddy Roosevelt instated our national park system simply so that man could go out into the wild. I grew up in Minnesota and Alaska. I was outside all the time. I love being outdoors. I am constantly thinking about conservation. But yeah, I grew up in the woods. I love to camp, fish and hunt. I will continue to do that forever. I would love to be able to extend that to my children and my grandchildren, my friends’ children, the next generation. I hope they get to enjoy the woods the way that I did.

Do you drive an electric car, now that your father-in-law is Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is an advocate for environment and alternative energy?

Yes, I do (laughs). I still have a pick-up truck but my primary vehicle is an electric one. I have a Tesla. I love it. I hate pollution so it’s cool to not pollute.

What kind of a traveler are you?

The type of traveler I am has really evolved. Let’s say, I wasn’t who I was, and I could be the type of traveler I wanted to be. I would be a light packer — I’d pack efficiently so I wouldn’t have to ever check in a bag, just a carry-on.

I love to hike and walk. I like to pack clothes that I can wear for five, ten days in a row and wash in my hotel room. I don’t need five-star hotels. I just need a place to crash and focus on where I can go from there, a good base camp and good hikes, get out into nature.

When I travel, I like to sit down with the people who live there and have a few drinks with them, just talk about their town, where they are from. That’s how you really get to know about a place — from who lives there. The best place to find a lubed-up group of people who want to talk to you is at the bar (laughs). So you can just go hit a bar somewhere and have a drink with somebody and learn all about their city.

What kind of places do you like to visit?

I like to visit beautiful sites in nature. I like to be around the ocean and the mountains, beautiful scenery. I prefer a monumental mountain than a monument built for man. I like God stuff, not man stuff. I like to go see forests, oceans and things like that.

What’s your life on the ranch in the San Juan Islands in Washington State like?

It’s lambing season right now. We just had our first lamb last night. We have 56 pregnant ewes and five pregnant doe goats. So we are going to have between 70 baby lambs and about seven baby goats if all goes well. We have a great wintering barn. It’s very cold, but they are doing well.

Do you need volunteers?

Really? That’s so sweet. I’m telling you, it’s good for the soul to get up there.

Written by

Ruben V Nepales

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