Very few of us get to hang out with talking raccoons. Or Morgan Freeman. Or Batman. Chris Pratt gets paid to do so. And next year, we’ll all get to experience the fruits of his so-awesome-you-can-hardly-qualify-it-as-labor labor, as both The Lego Movie and Guardians of the Galaxy offer up heaping helpings of that infectiously giggly Chris Pratt humor.

Now you can go ahead and add “dinosaurs” to that great big list of reasons to be jealous of Pratt. According to The Wrap, the actor is in talks for the lead role in Jurassic World. Now, these are still very early talks (so much so that The Wrap put the word “very” in italics) – Pratt’s commitment to Parks and Recreation takes up a considerable amount of his schedule, so he’ll only be allowed into Jurassic World if everyone gets the timing right. If Jurassic World knows what’s good for it, though, it’ll take the extra steps necessary to ensure Pratt comes on board. Man cannot live by dinosaurs alone- the folks being chased by prehistoric beasts are just as important as the beasts doing the chasing. And while Josh Brolin (who was originally in talks for the role, but has apparently dropped out) would bring a certain goateed charm to the film, it’s hard to deny that Chris Pratt and dinosaurs are a match made in heaven. Irrfan Khan is also in talks for a role; he must still be irked that his “eaten by a giant lizard” scene was cut from The Amazing Spider-Man.

Now, I mean no disrespect to Pratt, but when someone says the words “Hollywood leading man,” his name’s not likely to spring to mind. He’s funny, talented and charismatic, yet he’s missing the carved granite jaw and menacing demeanor normally required as a prerequisite to action movie stardom. And that seems to be where Pratt’s heading – with Guardians and Jurassic World, Pratt will be starring in two of the bigger tentpole films in the next two years. After that, he’ll probably have his pick of the blockbuster litter.

Typically, when an actor breaks into the spotlight in a big way – Benedict Cumberbatch in Sherlock, Tom Hardy in Bronson, etc. – a sudden career explosion feels like the natural progression of things. Pratt’s ascent into serious star power seems far less obvious. Parks and Recreation put his comedic chops on display; smaller parts in Moneyball and Zero Dark Thirty proved he had the ability for serious drama and big muscles, respectively. Then, pow! Hollywood stardom. What is it, exactly, that led to Pratt’s newfound fame and glory?

Maybe it’s because he’s just so damn endearing. According to Parks and Recreation mastermind Michael Schur, Pratt’s role as Andy Dwyer was only intended to last a few episodes, but “Chris was so great we had to make him full-time – and we decided that right after we cast him.” Combine this with Pratt’s right-place-at-the-right-time luck, and you might have yourself a success story. With Guardians of the Galaxy, Pratt was nowhere near the studio’s first choice. Marvel had tried (and failed) to court Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and signed test deals with a string of other actors before Pratt was finally fitted for Star-Lord’s helmet. And the actor’s only getting a shot at Jurassic World because things didn’t work out with Brolin.

Or maybe it’s Pratt’s willingness to drastically shift his poundage. Robert DeNiro, Christian Bale, Tom Hardy – Hollywood tends to latch on to those dudes who’re prepared to lose (or gain) serious weight for a role. He dropped about thirty pounds for Moneyball, packed on muscle for Zero Dark Thirty, then snacked his way on up to 300 pounds for a comedic role in Vince Vaughan‘s Delivery Man. Since then he’s gone back to muscle-mode for Guardians, and might have to do so again if Jurassic World‘s in his future. Not surprisingly, Pratt’s handled the stress of constantly gaining and losing weight by saying and doing things that are hilarious. In an interview with Vulture, he had this to say: “I just like to gain weight and lose weight. It’s a rollercoaster. I just want to do this. I want to touch God. Sorry, I almost have to take a nap now just from that talk.” And here’s part of a weight-gain photo shoot he did – also with Vulture.

Pratt 1

Pratt 2

Pratt 3

So maybe Pratt’s success comes from some combination of charisma, luck and the eagerness with which he destroys his own body. Or maybe Pratt was hand-picked for stardom by the same visionary who, after failing to court countless action stars for the lead role in Die Hard, finally settled on Bruce Willis, who at the time was solely a comedic actor. Years from now, I hope to see a tired, balding Chris Pratt that, fueled only by money and spite, continues to churn out action film after action film.


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