Chris Pratt seems to be living a charmed life.
It would be lovely to report that he’s a jerk who seems ungrateful and who is nowhere near as likable off-screen as he is on-screen, but that would be wildly untrue. Instead, we have to contend with the possibility that he’s a genuinely nice guy who happens to be just the right combination of talented, hard-working, and lucky. I spent some time on the set of Nick Stoller’s new film “A Five-Year Engagement” this summer, and I met Pratt for the first time there. He’s got a major supporting role in the film as one of Jason Segel’s best friends, and he struck me right away as a young guy who is still defining himself in this business, but who is grateful for every break he’s had so far, and who understands that each new role is an opportunity to expand his range and prove what he can do.
Watching his character develop over the course of “Parks and Recreation” so far has been one of those great unexpected pleasures that TV can offer up, where a show didn’t really know what to do with someone at the beginning but then realized what they had and quickly transformed a character into something that’s getting better each season now. Pratt went from “that dude who wouldn’t go away” to a character the show can’t function without, and the great thing about TV is that you can react to an actor and an audience and evolve something. Time is your friend on TV, and Pratt’s one of those guys who seems to get more confident and more bold as he settles into his character.
In “Moneyball,” he’s playing something totally different than what we’ve seen from him before, and there’s a quietly heartbreaking thing going on in his first few moments onscreen that says a lot about how far Pratt’s come in terms of what he’s doing these days. There’s not a hint of Andy in his performance in “Moneyball,” and when we sat down at the Toronto Film Festival, I wanted to talk to him about how he’s growing as a performer, as well as what role baseball plays in his offscreen life. It’s a quick chat, but I have a feeling we’ll be seeing plenty of Pratt in the years to come, and this is just the start of an ongoing conversation.
“Moneyball” opens everywhere this Friday.