Chris Pratt is living the dream. Discovered by a director while waiting tables in Maui at 19, the Parks & Recreation regular is currently starring alongside Topher Grace, Dan Fogler, and his real-life wife, Anna Faris, in Take Me Home Tonight, which hit theaters Friday. Despite his Cinderella-like beginnings, Pratt isn’t waiting until midnight for his carriage to turn into a pumpkin. The actor has five (count ‘em) movies releasing this year, as well as a Judd Apatow-produced project slated to start filming in April. Oh, and he graces our television sets every Thursday night as Andy Dwyer, Pawnee’s resident hapless shoe shiner. When not teasing us about upcoming episodes of his NBC series, Pratt fills us in on what looks to be a busy box-office year. We must say, we’re impressed. After all, what other actor can claim to play a character named Disgusting Donald, and in the same month, co-star in a sports biopic opposite Brad Pitt?
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So, we hear you just got cast in Judd Apatow’s new flick, Five-Year Engagement…
CHRIS PRATT: Yeah! It’s a Jason Segel movie with Emily Blunt, and Nicholas Stoller is directing. It’s kind of a romantic comedy in the vein of When Harry Met Sally, so it takes place over several years of these people’s lives. My character is similar to the Bruno Kirby role from When Harry Met Sally. I’m the BFF.
How did you get involved in that?
Judd’s process is pretty interesting. I don’t know if it’s always been like that, but with this particular project he did a table read and he just invites all of his contemporaries, friends and peers and people whom he respects. He just has a reading of the script and then lets them all give notes. Basically, they’re workshopping the script. They’re constantly rewriting and evolving, is what I found out, on all their projects. On this one, they asked me to come read this role, and I did, and it wasn’t really slated as an audition, but I won the role.
Take Me Home Tonight opened last week and you’re very funny in it. Is it on that set that you met your wife?
Yeah, Anna (Faris) and I met on that movie.
Was your real-life proposal anything like the on-screen one?
(Laughs) Oh God, no. No, I would never do anything like that to her. I asked her, “Well, if a guy wanted to marry you, what would he do?” And she said “Oh, if you asked me, I would say yes.” And so then that kind of took the pressure off. So I bought a ring and had it for a while, and for her birthday, we went up to the Pacific Northwest, where we’re both from, and I took it out and said, “Remember…” It was just the two of us. In a restaurant. In Roche Harbor, Wash.
Will you and Anna work together in any more upcoming films?
We did a short film, Movie 43, which is in the vein of Kentucky Fried Movie or Creepshow. It’s a movie that is comprised of several short films and there’s one narrative going through, which is these kids who are in search of this Movie 43, which is this amazing short that’s gonna change your life. We play, again, a guy who is a about to propose to a girl. It’s very gross. I think there’s a limit to the amount of movies you can do with your spouse before it becomes too much. There’s not a lot of examples of people who have been able to do a lot of films together.
Not successfully. Gigli, anyone?
Yeah, we don’t want to do Gigli. You have to really be careful, so if we were gonna be doing another movie together, it would really have to be far down the road and a great project.
Getting back to Take Me Home Tonight, your character, Kyle, is kind of a jerk.
Yeah. This is a movie that takes place in the ’80s, but unlike an ’80s movie, they’re not stereotypical characters. Like in a John Hughes movie you have the Stoner, the Jock. Those movies were describing the archetypes and creating a comment of these stereotypes, but I think these are really living, breathing characters. This movie happens to take place in the ’80s but it is contemporary in that these people are grounded in reality.
When you were preparing for the role, did you go back and watch any ’80s movies like The Karate Kid?
Only like 40 million times. I love that movie.
Do you have other ‘80s favorites?
Oh God, RoboCop is amazing. But then of course, Goonies … it does hold up, which is really rare with ’80s movies. That’s one thing I’ve noticed, going into this project and watching some ’80s movies: I can’t continue to watch these movies. They were my favorite movies as a kid, but they don’t hold up. They suck now. Maybe because I was eight when I watched them, and everything is great when you’re eight. So I just decided to let them remain special and not watch them under the scrutiny of an adult eye.
So you also star with your wife in What’s Your Number. Is there any scoop on that movie?
It’s really funny, it’s coming out in September.
You play Disgusting Donald. How disgusting are you?
I’ll show you a picture. This is the best. I’m pretty disgusting. Hold on. (Pulls out his cell and shows a picture of a dramatically overweight version of himself. Think Ryan Reynolds in the first ten minutes of Just Friends).
So you go from Disgusting Donald to costarring with Brad Pitt in September’s Moneyball. How exciting was that?
By far the most intense acting experience I’ve ever had. It was like three months of really hardcore training. I lost a ton of weight. It’s a baseball movie. And I’m based off a real character, named Scott Hatteberg. It was the first time I’ve ever stretched my dramatic wings. So I think that I’m looking forward to seeing it. It was a great experience.
How did you get involved in that, seeing as you’re mostly a comedic actor?
I auditioned for it and then they said, you did fine but we think you’re too heavy for the role. So, unsolicited, I was like okay, then I’ll lose weight for the role.
You pulled a Christian Bale?
I did. I lost like 40 pounds. Finally after maybe three months of working out and dieting really hard I sent them a picture of the weight I lost and what I looked like, and they gave me the role. I really went out and earned it.
What kind of diet did you put yourself on?
I did a really strict, no alcohol, no sugar, no salt, no carbs, just all protein and fresh vegetables, small meals over the course of the day. It was awful.
Seeing as you’re now working with A-list actors, is there anyone in the world that, if you could, you’d want to work with?
Oh man, there are so many people. I’d love to work with Steve Martin. I’d love to work with Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd.
Look into Ghostbusters 3.
That would be amazing.
Ten Year is pretty far away, but what can you tell us about that? It looks a bit like The Big Chill.
You know, it’s another movie that’s ‘one night in the life of,’ and it’s a reunion. It’s an ensemble cast and I play a character who was a bully in high school and is looking forward to using this night to make it up to people. We gathered this ensemble of pretty well-known actors who were there because they were really passionate about acting. No one was there for the money, that’s for sure. It was really a collaborative improv.
You’ve got this stable TV role, but now you’re doing movies, too. Do you think you’ll ever do just movies, or do you think you’ll stick with TV?
I don’t know. In this business, you can’t make any plans.
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Take Me Home Tonight – exclusive photo (Grace says he watched Andrew McCarthy movies for wardrobe inspiration)
Take Me Home Tonight red band trailer
Take Me Home Tonight trailer