Guardian to park ranger: Pratt's journey to the Jurassic
CHRIS Pratt's transition from goofball to leading man of the global box office has been remarkable.
Until last year, Pratt was best known as the lovable but dim-witted Andy Dwyer in Amy Poehler's American sitcom Parks and Recreation.
He had a string of supporting roles on the big screen, including 2011's Take Me Home Tonight when he met his now wife Anna Faris.
Everything changed last year when the Minnesota native starred in two of America's five highest-grossing films.
He received critical acclaim for voicing Emmet, the socially awkward star of the award-winning animated film The Lego Movie.
But it was his role as Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord, in Marvel's sci-fi romp Guardians of the Galaxy that cemented Pratt's status as an internationally recognised film star.
In the span of a few years Pratt went from funny sidekick to one of Hollywood's most bankable leading men, fronting Disney's biggest film (Guardians grossed $774 million worldwide) of 2014.
The 36-year-old is about to hit our screens again in his most serious role to date as the hero of the long-awaited Jurassic Park reboot, Jurassic World.
"I wanted to be a part of this movie but only if it was going to be great," Pratt tells Weekend from Berlin.
"After reading the script and hearing the concept and the character, I figured there was always the chance we could fail on execution but we had a great starting point.
"I was relieved when I saw the movie because we didn't fail in the execution. It seemed to all come together and we're thrilled. It makes the press tour much easier (laughs)."
Jurassic World is set 22 years after the events of the original film, and John Hammond's dream of a dinosaur theme park is now a reality.
But after 10 years of operation, the park's managers are going to more extreme lengths to create new attractions to boost visitor numbers.
Pratt plays Owen Grady, a former military man who is conducting research on some of Jurassic World's velociraptors at an enclosure shielded from the eyes of the park's guests.
"The situation on paper could potentially be ridiculous," Pratt says.
"The idea that a human being is training raptors and has a motorcycle and lives on the island like this cool guy, this action hero, could - with the wrong director, wrong writing and wrong actor - come across pretty cheesy."
Owen has spent years trying to position himself as the alpha male of four raptors, which he has affectionately given nicknames like Delta and Blue.
"For me it was important to just try to make it real and just try to suspend all disbelief that hey, in this world dinosaurs are no longer extinct; they're not even dinosaurs, they're just animals, animals we keep in captivity," Pratt says.
He spoke to a variety of animal trainers as part of his research into Owen's back story.
"There are people in the military who train sea mammals for work with the naval forces, you know, somebody does that job," he says.
"The mythology created in the movie says the raptors are hyper-intelligent; similar to a dolphin they're problem solvers.
"We just approached it like, yeah, it's a likelihood you could get them to follow some commands with positive or negative reinforcement."
As a fan of the original film, Pratt had several surreal moments on set.
"I had a few moments where I'd just do this tiny little victory dance when no one was looking," he says.
"The first time we shot on a 65mm film camera it felt like we were on the set of Casablanca. We were at this airstrip that had been used in the Pacific Theatre of the Second World War. Planes are taking off behind us, we can hear this camera rolling through the film (65mm has a very distinct sound), we're wearing our costumes and Bryce (Dallas Howard) and I are looking at each other.
"It was this moment where I was looking at Bryce and she looked so beautiful and iconic, and I just thought 'Oh my gosh we are part of something massive'."
Perhaps the biggest challenge for Pratt was resisting the urge to flex his comedic muscle (a quick search on YouTube reveals several of his long blooper reels from Parks and Recreation).
"A few minutes before action until they yelled cut I had to restrain myself," he says.
"I'm a goofball by nature. It's my instinct to try to be funny and bring levity to everything. I bring this clown to everything I've been developing my whole life.
"That was something that Colin (Trevorrow, the director) was very adamant about. He said 'you need to reel it in'. That was my third rail, as he called it. That just meant, don't go into my Andy character (from Parks and Recreation), who was a goofball, a nitwit.
"Andy was fun and light and great as a supporting role but I don't think a movie can be carried with that type of character. I had to keep it more straight and reactionary."
How long does he reckon Andy would last if he was dropped into the chaos unleashed by a large dinosaur on the loose on Isla Nublar?
"Oh Andy would have been the first to go," he laughs.
"Speaking of Parks and Recreation connections, there's a character (in Jurassic World) played by Eric Edelstein who is one of the first to go. He played Andy's neighbour Lawrence in the second season of Parks and Recreation."
Movie-goers follow young visitors Zach and Gray Mitchell as they explore the park's many awe-inspiring attractions. Great white sharks are used as bait for the giant aquatic predator Mosasaurus, while elsewhere kids ride mini triceratops in the petting zoo and families kayak down gentle rivers lined with stegosaurus.
But all hell breaks loose when their aunt, park manager Claire (Howard), asks Owen to test the security of an enclosure housing the park's newest attraction.
The genetically modified hybrid, which has grown up in isolation, manages to engineer its own escape.
At the film's world premiere in Paris, Trevorrow said he hoped Jurassic World would make every adult feel like a kid again.
"I expect people are going to feel that childhood wonder again when seeing this movie," Pratt says.
"I will say I don't think I'll ever be able to be an objective audience member watching this movie because I was so much a part of the creative and collaborative process.
"The one sacrifice I had to make joining what was maybe my favourite franchise of all time is I don't get to sit down and watch it in the movie theatre like everybody else because I'm just too close to it, but it was definitely worth the trade off."
Jurassic World opens in cinemas nationally on Thursday.
Jurassic World is being released exactly 22 years after the original film was released on June 11, 1993.
Jurassic Park is based on the book by writer Michael Crichton, who also created the TV series ER. In 2002, a newly discovered dinosaur of the Ankylosaur group, Crichtonsaurus bohlini, was named for the late author.
A guitar string was used in the original film to achieve the vibrating cups of water, a signal of the approaching T-rex. Jurassic Park went on to win three Oscars for its sound and visual effects.
Jurassic World is director Colin Trevorrow's second feature-length film. His first, Safety Not Guaranteed, impressed producer Steven Spielberg so much he passed the Jurassic mantle to Trevorrow.
Trevorrow describes Jurassic World as a direct sequel to Jurassic Park that will not reference The Lost World: Jurassic Park or Jurassic Park III.
The only returning original cast member is BD Wong, who plays geneticist Henry Wu.
Jurassic World's characters have been given the Lego treatment, making it the third time Chris Pratt has been immortalised in mini-figure form. In fact, Lego is using the same head piece from Pratt's Star-Lord Lego man for Owen Grady.