The Stunning Transformation Of Chris Pratt

I first laid eyes on Chris Pratt while watching him play the role of cute and goofy teenager Bright Abbott in the WB's Everwood. I instantly fell in love with his looks, and charm — but most of all, his bubbly, infectious sense of humor, that leaped directly through the screen and into my living room. He seems to have had that effect on most people, because it's exactly what brought him the opportunities to go from living in a van, to being one of Hollywood's hottest stars.

His rise to superstardom came at a steady pace: his TV break on the WB led to roles on The OC, and then Parks and Recreation, where he played the unforgettable goofball Andy Dwyer. He scored roles in several hit films that became Best Picture nominees, and quickly rose to the heights of fame, starring in some of Hollywood's biggest hits, and ultimate fan favorites.

He teamed up romantically with funny lady Anna Faris and even though it didn't last, the clever and sentimental naming of their son Jack Daniel (named after both of their fathers) is enough to make me giggle. This is a look at Pratt's interesting and exciting life, and his rise to fame — a calling he believes he was destined for.

Crybaby beginnings

The lovable Christopher Pratt was born on June 21, 1979 in Virginia, Minnesota, to blue-collar parents Kathleen and Dan. When he was 3, his father moved the family to a gold-mining camp in remote Alaska for work. They then bounced around several states before settling in Washington State. In a 2015 feature he told GQ that, growing up "I was obnoxious, really hyperactive, disruptive...but also Dad was very, very strict, so if I got yelled at, I would stay silent for a long period of time. I was really sensitive. I cried a lot. I was a crybaby for a long time."

Pratt gives credit to his older brother Cully for sparking his interest in the theatre. "He was hands down the best big brother anyone could ask for: super-supportive, and always helped me, and loved me, and took care of me," said Pratt. "We spent our entire childhood, eight hours a day, wrestling. One Christmas, he was in a play — a musical — and sang, and it knocked everyone's socks off. My mom was crying. And I was like, 'That's what I want to do.'" By his senior year, Pratt was wrestling, playing football, starring in plays, and writing and acting in almost every school assembly.

Once his wrestling coach asked him what he wished to do with his life, and Pratt recalls replying, "I don't know, but I know I'll be famous, and I know I'll make a s*** ton of money." While he says he had no idea how he would accomplish it, he sure lived up to his answer.

Family drama

While his family moved around, following his father's job opportunities, Chris Pratt later reflected on the sacrifices his parents made, early on. When they were settled in Washington State, his mother worked at Safeway, while his dad worked construction jobs. Even so, there wasn't a lot of money. They lost their house while Pratt was in high school, renting a place until he graduated, before moving into a trailer. He opted for rooming with a friend, instead of sleeping in the shed out back.

When Pratt was in his 20s his father's MS diagnosis took a sharp decline. Pratt describes his father as tough, old school and stubborn. "He was pretty ornery to begin with, and so that just made him more ornery," Pratt remembered. "He had lost interest in life...'Well, I've got this disease now, I'm gonna die'. He refused to take any medication or do anything like physical therapy." 

Pratt's parents split up, and his father moved into assisted living. He claims his father just watched TV for his last ten years, but even so, it was a way for them to be close. "In his own way he let me know that he was proud of me," he said of his dad. "If I was on TV, he watched everything I was in. So it felt like I was able to communicate with him through doing work that was on TV." Pratt was filming Jurassic World in New Orleans in 2014 when his father passed away.

Community college dropout

After high school, Chris Pratt decided to study acting at a local community college. He told Vanity Fair, "I did a scene — something I wrote — and the teacher took me aside and said, 'You should think about doing this professionally.' He saw something." Despite the encouragement, Pratt ended up attending for only a half-semester. "It felt exactly like high school except I had to pay for it. And, for a kid living hand to mouth, that didn't make sense."

Pratt's next step was thinking about joining the military, but his brother warned him against it. "[My brother] ended up going into the army and told me not to," Pratt shared in Vanity Fair, "I think he saw something in me. I was a peculiar kid. I was very much an individual and happy to be an individual. I dressed funny and was comfortable in my own skin." So, Pratt ended up relocating to Hawaii. "I had a friend who was like, 'Dude, you've got to come out here,"' Pratt told EW, "We set up camp on the beach and lived the dream."

Working a bunch of odd jobs

After Chris Pratt dropped out of college, he got a job as a door-to-door salesman selling coupons, and even had a small stint moonlighting as a stripper. Elaborating in an interview with BuzzFeed, he said, "I was never like, Magic Mike, you know. I did go one time and audition on a stage for a club, but I don't think I got the job. I don't think I'm a very good dancer." Other than a failed audition, and a couple bachelorette parties, his stripping career was short lived.

While he was still searching for his calling, he found other creative ways to make a living. "I cleaned people's cars, painted murals, worked for my dad, worked at a burger joint, was a room service waiter, worked at the snack bar at a bingo hall," he told BuzzFeed, of his varied résumé. "I babysat and mowed lawns, I picked blackberries and sold them. I was always very enterprising as a kid. I was always trying to find some way to make money." It was his job waiting tables at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurant in Maui that lead to the break he needed, to move out of the van he was living in.

Getting discovered

One day, while working at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., the 19-year-old Chris Pratt waited on actress Rae Dawn Chong (daughter of notorious stoner Tommy Chong) while she was in Maui. He told Entertainment Weekly that he just decided to go for it. "I was like, 'You're in the movies, right? I always wanted to be in the movies,"' he recalls. "She said, 'You're cute. Do you act?' I was like, f**k it, 'Goddamn right I act! Put me in a movie!"'

Chong was prepping Cursed Part III, a horror comedy, as her directorial debut — and she decided to throw Pratt a bone and cast him as the lead. The movie never made it to theaters, but it solidified exactly where Pratt wanted to be. "The moment she told me she was bringing me to L.A., I knew," he said in the interview. "I was like, 'This is what I'm going to do with the rest of my life."'

Mastering the small screen

Chris Pratt's big break came in 2002 when he auditioned for the WB teen drama Everwood. The role of Bright Abbott was initially small, but after he left the room, the character was expanded to mimic Pratt's infectious personality. "He made us all laugh, and he was so charming — everybody wanted to see more of him," creator Greg Berlanti told Elle, "The part was basically constructed around his personality."

He spent a total of four years on Everwood, following that up with a year on The O.C. He then booked various guest roles and small movie parts, before he landed in Pawnee, Indiana, the fictional town in Parks and Recreation. While his character, Andy Dwyer, was only meant to last for a six-episode arc, Pratt turned it into a seven-season gig, like he did with Everwood. Co-creator Michael Schur once said in an interview, "We originally conceived of Andy as a character who would fade away after the first six or so, but Chris was so great we had to make him full-time — and we decided that right after we cast him. It seemed like a waste to have him around for such a short time."

Proving his talents

Most people are aware that he's got great acting chops, amazing comedic timing, and that he can actually carry a tune, but over the years he's revealed some hidden talents. When Pratt appeared on The Whoolywood Shuffle show, he revealed what his real-life soundtrack would be, "I remember when Eminem first came out with his album Chronic in 2001, and that was kind of like my Peter Quill mix," Pratt told show host DJ Whoo Kid. "Me and my friend lived in a van in Maui and we listened to that and smoked weed every day." Pratt insisted he knew every single word to that album. And proved it.

He can even style women's hair. When Pratt was filming Jurassic World in Hawaii he posted a photo on Instagram of a glorious french braid he did on his wife (via BuzzFeed). So many people were impressed, that they wanted to see it for themselves. When InStyle asked how he got so he good he said, "My sister taught me how to braid when we were younger. Then, I would braid Anna's hair at night ... it was a nice little ritual. But her hair started breaking off at the top of the braid because she was sleeping on it. So Anna's mom thought a French braid might distribute the pressure."

Professional goofball

In high school he was labeled the class clown and Chris Pratt makes it no secret that he's always been a jokester. "I had a dirty mind, and a dirty sense of humor. And I was naked a lot. I was naked all the time. It was just recently, in the last few years since I've become an adult, that I've learned to keep my clothes on. And even then, I really haven't," he told GQ, referring to the prank where he shocked Amy Poehler in a take by being naked (for real) in a doorway. He subsequently got a slap on the wrist from NBC, but they actually used the take because of Amy's amazing reaction.

He's clearly the type of person who won't pass up a golden opportunity to play a good joke. A prime example includes photobombing unsuspecting Super Bowl fans. Pratt even told Jimmy Fallon during an appearance on The Tonight Show that by 14 years old, he was already a professional prankster in the making. He's also a pretty great sport when he's on the receiving end.

Getting ripped

Getting some roles early on for Chris Pratt was difficult, he almost didn't get Moneyball because of his weight, "That was the first time I heard someone say, 'We're not gonna cast you — you're too fat.'" he told Vanity Fair, "So I decided to drop the weight, like in wrestling. I couldn't afford a trainer, so it was all running and crash-dieting and cutting alcohol." After his role in Moneyball, he ended up reverting back and forth, from Dad-bod status to ripped Dad-bod for various roles.

When Pratt was first approached about playing Peter Quill in Guardians of the Galaxy he turned it down. "I was probably scared," he told EW, "And thought I was too fat to play a superhero." Unfortunately the director agreed at first, but he was perfect for the role, so as soon as he was hired, Pratt set out to lose the weight. His secret? "Three or four hours a day of just consistent, ass-kicking hard work," he told Men's Fitness about how he lost 60 pounds in 6 months. With the help of a personal trainer and nutritionist he revamped his diet and committed to sessions of P90X, running, swimming, boxing, kickboxing, and even a triathlon.

Real life superhero

He's a superhero on screen, but he's also one in real life to many young fans. In 2015, Chris Pratt and Chris Evans had a friendly and public Super Bowl bet on whose team would win the game. Whoever lost would have to dress up in costume as their Marvel superhero character and visit a children's hospital of the winner's choosing — so basically nobody lost. While Pratt made good on his bet, Evans returned the favor and both hospitals received $27,000 in donations as a result from the friendly exchange.

Pratt has made many more visits to hospitals bringing his infectious smile to children going through difficult times. In a visit last year to Seattle's Children's Hospital he spoke of his affection for the people who work in the NICU, writing on his Instagram post, "Ever since Jack's premature birth, we have a special affinity for the NICU (neo-natal intensive care unit) Today I spent a little time with Coen and Zion, twins who were born too early only a pound and a half each. Thank you to the doctors and nurses at @seattlechildrens The boys are doing fine. Although they're both missing their big sis." He continues to use his voice and superstar power to speak to the causes close to his heart.

Going full A-list

His infinite charm and magnetic personality helped transform small roles into full time series regulars on the small screen, which led to Chris Pratt's exposure for other roles. In between seasons of Parks and Recreation he began to land in roles in several hit films that became Best Picture nominees like Moneyball, Zero Dark Thirty, and Her. As Parks and Recreation was coming to an end, Pratt's superstardom was just gaining momentum. He had just starred as the lead voice of Emmett in The Lego Movie, and as Starlord in Guardians of the Galaxy — the role he worked so hard to get.

He took the lead in the blockbuster Jurassic World in 2015 which solidified his new status as a bonafide movie star. Pratt's next films to hit the big screens are sequels, Jurassic World 2, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and Avengers: Infinity War — all, likely to become blockbuster hits, thanks to Pratt.

The mega-watt star might now be dodging paparazzi, but you certainly won't find him complaining about his hard-earned A-list status. "I used to live in a van, and worked at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.," he says, "So now if I ever f**king complain about fame...please find me and kick me in the balls." With his sense of humor, and full-tilt dedication to every aspect of his life these days, Pratt welcomes his fans along for the ride of a lifetime.