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Chris Pratt: Faith, family and farm

Most actors would kill for one franchise; Chris Pratt somehow has three. The self-effacing actor from Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers and Jurassic World opens up about why his love for fishing will outlast the thrill of fame

The answer people want to hear is that the thrill never goes away, but the reality is that it does.

For many A-list movie stars, life is an endless swirl of flying First Class to exotic locations to shoot films that have budgets larger than the GDP of some countries. It’s having assistants bring you kale salads and organic protein smoothies. It’s hopping in and out of luxury SUVs with awaiting bottles of artisanal mineral water in the cup holders. It’s flashbulbs, premieres, $5,000 tuxedos and red carpets. 

But for Chris Pratt, his movie star life can be summed up very simply in just three words: “Faith, family and farm.” 

One thing he forgot to include on that pleasingly alliterative list is fishing. “I’ve fished in some pretty extraordinary spots around the world,” he says in a conference room of a Hong Kong hotel. 

Pratt sits back and stares at the ceiling as he recalls his best trips with his rods. “I caught some big brown trout in New Zealand on a fly, that was pretty cool. I fished reef fish out in French Polynesia, that was awesome. But most of my fishing, I do in the States.”

Sitting on a riverbank or a lake with only the sound of birdsong is about as far away from Hollywood as you can get. “For sure,” he nods. “It’s something I’ve been passionate about long before I even knew I wanted to be an actor. It’s one of the few things in my life that I work to do. A lot of people live to work, but I’m the opposite. I work so I can do the things that I love — and fishing is one of those.”

Pratt is about to start shooting his third Jurassic Park movie (how did that happen?) but before that he’ll be happily pottering about on his farm in Washington State in the north west corner of the US. 

“We have an orchard,” he says with a proud smile. “We just finished a magnificent spring with figs, apples, pears and cherries. We have sheep, cows, chickens. It’s a proper farm.”

The answer people want to hear is that the thrill never goes away, but the reality is that it does.

One of the four big Chrises in Hollywood right now — Hemsworth aka Thor, Pine as Captain Kirk and Evans, who plays Captain America — Pratt is on a roll after the success of Avengers: Endgame earlier this year. 

The Minnesota-born actor just turned 40 and success has arrived relatively late. He came to the fore on the TV comedy Parks and Recreation before gaining cinema recognition for Moneyball (2011), Zero Dark Thirty (2012) and The Lego Movie (2014). With goodwill — and good looks — pushing him forward, Pratt finally landed the big one: a Marvel movie. 

Playing Peter Quill/Star Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 set Pratt on his way to an even bigger franchise: Jurassic World. Later, sharing top billing with Jennifer Lawrence in the clever sci-fi drama Passengers was a good step forward, as was the remake of the cowboy action flick The Magnificent Seven with Denzel Washington. With two Avengers movies, two trips in Guardians of the Galaxy and two Jurassic World outings, Pratt now has extensive experience of being in the eye of a blockbuster movie storm. “Making a movie like Endgame or Infinity War is a monumental undertaking and takes close to 200 days of filming, not to mention many years of prep and post-filming work,” he says. “It’s a lot of actors and schedules and it’s very complicated. Most of that work is done by other people to create an environment for us to show up and have fun.”

Part of that fun was getting to know Robert Downey Jr. “On the set at lunch he would cook amazing meals and have little parties every day,” smiles Pratt, sounding like a fan. “He’d invite cast members to come to his base camp and hang out. That was really great — and very nice of him.”

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom took more than a billion dollars in 2018; JP3 will arrive in 2021. “It’s going to be pretty epic,” he says. 

Laura Dern from the original 1993 movie is rumoured to be making a cameo. “If she wants to come in, it would be amazing,” Pratt smiles. “An endorsement from one of the original cast members is music to our ears.”

Does he still get a thrill from seeing himself on billboards? “The first time you see it, it’s mind-boggling,” he says. “But I think there’s a diminishing return of the thrill that you get when you see that for the first time,” he says carefully. 

“The answer people want to hear is that the thrill never goes away, but the reality is that it does. It’s still very exciting. If you get to the point where it doesn’t excite you anymore then it’s probably time for you to pack up and do something different. I’m not there yet; it’s still thrilling, but not quite as thrilling as the first time.”

Pratt is a big fella, with his Avengers physique encased in a smart beige jacket. He has big, proper movie star hair and a firm handshake with eye contact. He says “Oh my gosh” a lot. He’s happy to poke fun at himself and seems genuinely amazed that fans have turned up to scream his name and wave Guardians of the Galaxy posters at the Tumi store opening in a luxury Hong Kong mall. 

Avengers has a great fan base in Asia and I’m so grateful,” he beams on his first visit to Hong Kong. “I feel very blessed. I wouldn’t have my career if it wasn’t for fans like this.”

He’s here to be unveiled as the new ambassador for luxury luggage brand Tumi. Although cynics will say he’s just here for the pay cheque but Pratt insists he only signed up because it’s a brand he has genuinely used for the last 10 years. 

“I’ve never been guy who jumped on board to endorse a brand,” he says. “I’m an actor and I’m careful about selecting roles; it’s the same with this. Working with Tumi made perfect sense, it was authentic for me.”

We ask Tumi’s creative director Victor Sanz why he chose Pratt. “He’s dynamic, fun, handsome, he’s new and fresh — he’s relatable,” Sanz says. “You see his movies: he’s super charismatic and approachable, but he does serious roles too.”

Pratt is engaged to Katherine Schwarzenegger, daughter of Arnold. He has one son, six-year-old Jack with his ex-wife, the actress Anna Faris. Their divorce in 2017 after eight years of marriage was one of the most amicable in Hollywood history with Faris applauding news of the engagement on her podcast, calling them “amazing people”. 

She added, “Grudge-holding is not something that Chris and I do. We wanted to make sure, of course, that Jack was happy, but that we were happy and supportive of each other.”

Pratt says, “I’ve got great people in my life who’ve known me my whole life through the ups and downs. I’m lucky I have fostered relationships with people. Life is all about love and relationships.”

The noise at the Hong Kong mall is reaching dangerous levels as Pratt walks on a makeshift stage and waves to fans, some of whom have been waiting for hours. One fan has even made a replica mixtape from Guardians of the Galaxy and is eagerly holding a Sharpie for Pratt (he eventually battles his way through the crowd and signs it). The camera flashes are blinding. 

After posing for what seems like 100 selfies with delirious fans, Pratt is ushered away to his hotel and, later, to the airport for his flight back to America and his farm, a million miles away from the red carpet of fame and flashbulbs.

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