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Chris Pratt's Best Onscreen Performances

Chris Pratt's career trajectory has been a pretty steady rise over the last 20-plus years. Starting out in indie movies and TV, then taking on supporting gigs in films, then rising into huge franchise starring roles, Pratt has basically had a career most actors could only dream of achieving. 

Relying his comedic abilities at first, Pratt started out as a funny supporting star, but after a few years found his dramatic and sensitive side while also morphing into a bona fide action hero. Taking on parts in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as well as being a part of the "Jurassic Park" franchise and voicing characters in hit animated films, Pratt's star has soared higher than Starlord's Milano spacecraft.

Born in 1979 in Minnesota, Pratt once told his wrestling coach, "I know I'll be famous and I know I'll make a ... ton of money," he remembered in an interview with Entertainment Weekly in 2014. 

He wasn't wrong — but before getting there, Pratt dropped out of college and moved to Maui, Hawaii, where he was homeless and slept on the beach. He was discovered while working as a waiter at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. Actress/Director Rae Dawn Chong (daughter of Tommy Chong) cast him in her debut horror film "Cursed, Part 3," and from there, the rest is history. Here are Chris Pratt's best on screen roles.

Jim in "Passengers"

The 2016 sci-fi film "Passengers" starred Jennifer Lawrence as writer Aurora and Chris Pratt as engineer Jim, two passengers on an enormous spaceship carrying 5,000 colonists to a faraway planet. 

Set to take 120 years, with all passengers and crew sleeping in hibernation pods, the voyage is disturbed when an asteroid damages the ship, Jim's pod malfunctions and wakes him up 90 years too early. After a year of isolation, Jim wakes up Aurora so he'll have company. After another year, the two fall in love, though once Aurora figures out that Jim woke her on purpose and not because of another malfunction, she's livid at the prospect that he's doomed her to death. The two have to eventually work together, to save the ship and all its passengers.

The film was criticized upon release for the creepy element of having Jim obsess over Aurora before essentially killing her, yet having her fall in love with him. Critics said it had a consent problem and included elements of fantasy Stockholm Syndrome. That being said, Lawrence and Pratt have great chemistry together and manage to carry the film pretty much entirely on their own. Pratt's isolation at the start of the film highlights his dramatic acting chops, and his romantic lead legs kick in once Lawrence is awake. It's a great performance, even if it the movie has some issues.

Paul in "Her"

The 2013 Spike Jonze film "Her" was set in a not-so-distant future, one where people's relationships with artificial intelligence was just beginning to head into "uh oh, what have we done," territory. The film was a critical and financial success, and was anchored not only by a landmark Joaquin Phoenix performance, but solid work from supporting actors like the then little-known Pratt.

Phoenix stars in the film as a man named Theodore Twombly, a depressed, introverted greeting card writer who buys an operating system that utilizes artificial intelligence. His personal assistant Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) becomes more of a partner than an assistant, as the lines between human and machine blur in this weird yet wonderful film.

Pratt plays a man named Paul, one of Theodore's friends and coworkers. Clad in the high-waisted pants of the future, Pratt's Paul is warm, outgoing, and the total opposite of Theodore. Pratt only had a few scenes in the movie, but he brought a lot of personality to the role in a film where everyone else was quite reserved.

 You can't help but smile every time he's on screen — although, to be fair, that might just be the silly pants.

Fletcher in "Bride Wars"

The 2009 romantic comedy "Bride Wars" starred Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson as best friends Emma and Olivia, who dreamed of being married at The Plaza Hotel in New York City. Once engaged, the two quickly set their dates, only to learn that a clerical error has them getting married at the same place on the same day. 

The breezy romantic comedy did middling box-office, but had some clever scenes as shenanigans ensued and the two best friends fought, tricked one another, and generally tried to ruin each other's weddings. 

Looking back now, it's not the greatest rom-com out there, especially since it paints women as wedding obsessed shrews.

Pratt plays Emma's fiancé Fletcher, and despite him being a soft, cuddly bear in many of his other roles, "Bride Wars" is where Pratt got to be a jerk. Fletcher is a bit controlling, doesn't treat Emma all that well, and doesn't really represent the kind of guy a heroine is going to end up with at the end of a romantic comedy. Spoiler alert, Emma leaves him at the altar, so she figures that out as well. But Pratt plays his role well, embodying a controlling jerk as well as he does his softer, kinder characters.

Alex in "The Five Year Engagement"

A much better wedding-related rom-com, 2012's "Engagement" had Pratt playing a supporting role, but portraying the complete opposite of his character in "Bride Wars."

Starring Emily Blunt and Jason Segel as Violet and Tom, an engaged couple whose attempts to tie the knot are repeatedly thwarted by new jobs, new living locations, or new family events, the film had some very cute moments and Pratt cast as Segel's wingman.

Pratt plays Tom's best friend Alex, who accidentally falls into bed with Violet's sister Suzie (Alison Brie). Suzie ends up pregnant and she and Alex have a quickie wedding and another kid soon comes after the first. Alex and Suzie get their dream life, basically, while Violet and Tom are still trying to figure out theirs. 

Pratt plays a lovable buffoon here, not too far from his career-making work as Andy in "Parks and Recreation." This movie didn't come out long after he started on that sitcom, so it wasn't a stretch, but he was putting his brand to good use here, which probably helped in the long run.

Bright on "Everwood"

Chris Pratt's first significant role was on the series "Everwood" from 2002 to 2006. The adult/teen drama was from the pre-CW era when the network was called The WB.

The series was set in the fictional town of Everwood, Colorado and shot in the pacific northwest, so picture lots of forest vibes and people in cozy sweaters just aching to get out of them. The show revolved around a Manhattan surgeon (Treat Williams) who moved to Colorado after the death of his wife. It presented a hard adjustment, but even harder for his 15-year-old son Ephram (Gregory Smith).

Pratt was cast a teen named Bright, the best friend of Colin Hart (Mike Erwin), and a brother to Ephram's crush Amy (Emily VanCamp). 

Much of his plotline involved Colin being in a coma after a car accident in which he and Bright were driving drunk, so Pratt's performance here detailed a cocky teen who must face the consequences of his actions while also becoming a lovable character that audiences would root for. Pratt played Bright on all four seasons of the show, leading to its abrupt cancellation.

Dan in "The Tomorrow War"

Pratt's most notable 2021 action hero role came in the form of a sci-fi movie called "The Tomorrow War." 

The futuristic film finds time travelers from the future showing up to recruit fighters against an alien species that has invaded the planet 30 years from present day. Pratt's Dan is a former Iraq vet who's turned into a science teacher, but his, shall we say, very particular set of skills, makes him pretty valuable to a future alien war.

Aa mashup of the Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt cult film "The Edge of Tomorrow" and Will Smith's "Independence Day," the film didn't turn out to be as successful as either of them. That might have had something to do with the fact that the pandemic cancelled its big theater plans and instead went on to stream on Amazon. But "The Tomorrow War" presented a great opportunity for what might be Pratt's most nuanced performance yet.

His character, Dan Forester, was told that he was only a few years away from imminent death. He was also told that, like the father he despises, he would soon abandon his family. Much of this information came from the lips of Colonel Muri Forester — his futuristic battlefield companion who also happens to be his grown-up daughter. Paired alongside Yvonne Strahovski in that role — and Oscar winner J.K. Simmons as his off-the-grid dad — Pratt had some significant acting meat to chew on. For the most part, he did not disappoint, exploring the feelings and failings of fathers, depicting a man who is trying to save the world — if only to save his daughter.

Justin in "Zero Dark Thirty"

"Zero Dark Thirty" was Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow's follow-up to her Best Picture and Best Director win for the tense "The Hurt Locker." 

This 2012 film stars Jessica Chastain as a CIA Intelligence Analyst, a character inspired by the real woman who tracked down the location of Osama Bin Laden and the Seal Team that eventually stormed his compound and killed him. The tense, dramatic thriller was also nominated for multiple Academy Awards.

Pratt plays Justin Lenihan, one of the members of SEAL Team SIX, also known as DEVGRU, who is a part of the final raid on the compound and death of Osama Bin Laden. Pratt's role here is his transition from the funny man comedic parts and nice guy roles he'd been playing for a while. Here he's the tough Navy guy, scruffy, sarcastic, and wise-cracking, but also brave and noble. This performance might have given casting directors the hint that Pratt could play roles like the ones he does in the MCU or "Jurassic" franchises, taking on the role of action hero and leaving his nice guy brand behind.

Scott Hatteberg in "Moneyball"

2011's "Moneyball" was a head-scratcher of a sports movie, meaning that it took what might be considered the most boring part of baseball — the statistics — and made it a fascinating exploration into the benefits of thinking differently to get a leg up on the competition. Starring Brad Pitt as Oakland Athletics' GM Billy Beane, "Moneyball" was based on the bestselling book about how the Oakland Athletics — a team with one of the smallest payrolls in baseball, a major disadvantage — used non-traditional statistics to identify under-valued players who would put them in the postseason hunt for season after season, an impressive trend that continues today.

Pratt's role in "Moneyball" remains perhaps his most subdued. Cast as real-life player Scott Hatteberg, who had a below-average MLB career until Beane and his metrics analyst Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) came to covet his on-base percentage, Pratt brought pathos to the role of a man accustomed to a fading dream, only to have it rekindled.

Pratt's performance here is one of a shy, midwestern charmer whose insecurity is actually what makes him so enigmatic. Hatteberg is kind of an underdog, and Pratt's ability to embody someone unsure of himself, if you can believe it, made the audience not only root for the player but for the whole premise of the movie. Viewers wanted the statistical re-imaginings to work, because they came to want Pratt's Hatteberg to succeed, and that's a powerful position for an actor to put an audience in.

Barley Lightfoot in "Onward"

Okay, technically, this isn't an "onscreen" performance so much as it is voiceover work — but nevertheless, Pratt's voice work is the heart and soul of the movie, and it's impossible to imagine "Onward" without it.

The 2020 Disney/Pixar animated film didn't get as much recognition as other flicks made by the combo studio, probably due to the pandemic hitting just as it was released. The movie was set in a world of mythical creatures living ordinary human lives. In this world, although magic used to be a thing, technology has taken over to the point where modern day mythical creatures no longer use it.

Pratt plays an elf named Barley Lightfoot, big brother to Ian Lightfoot (Tom Holland). The two set out on a quest inspired by a gift left behind by their late father. Holland and Pratt's dynamic here, even just in their voice work, is quite fun to watch. Pratt's role as the big, buffoony brother is reminiscent here of other big buffoony roles he's played, though without being able to rely on any physical comedy or his facial expressions, it's impressive that he manages to still pull it off and get his signature style to come through an animated character. 

Joshua Faraday in "The Magnificent Seven"

Antoine Fuqua's 2016 remake of the 1960 John Sturges western — in turn, a remake of the 1954 Japanese epic "Seven Samurai" — brought together an ensemble of A-list actors. The film starred Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio, and Peter Sarsgaard, among others, telling the tale of a team of seven who work together to bring down a ruthless industrialist.

Pratt plays Joshua Faraday, a gambler and explosive expert who is, naturally, also a smooth talker, a drunk, and a ladies man. Pratt's character is reminiscent of the original film's Harry Luck, played by Steve McQueen. 

Pratt was fresh off of his trio of successful runs in "The Lego Movie," "Guardians of the Galaxy," and "Jurassic World" here, combining his ability to be funny in an action role and crank up the charm. The difference was that this time, he was part of an ensemble instead of taking the lead. Not only did it show that Pratt could play a supporting role and still be charismatic, but it hiked up his star factor working with such high caliber actors.

Owen Grady in "Jurassic World"

When it was announced that a sequel to the Jurassic Park franchise was in the works, the filmmakers naturally had to find their next star. Actors like Sam Neil, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum had made the first several films shine, so there was a lot resting on the shoulders of the new cast. 

For 2015's "Jurassic World," Pratt took on the co-lead of ethologist and velociraptor trainer Owen Grady alongside Bryce Dallas Howards' operations manager Claire Dearing. Together they try to stop everyone in Jurassic World from getting eaten by dinosaurs, because apparently no one has still realized that a dinosaur park is a bad idea and humans should stop creating mutant dinosaurs.

Owen is cocky, burly, and full of himself, so naturally he's supposed to be a heartthrob. It's up to you whether or not you like that kind of attitude in your leading men, or if you find Owen's bravado an annoying turn-off. Either way, Pratt does pull it off, and he would continue to make Owen a charming hot head in the sequel, 2018's "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom." With another Jurassic sequel hatching soon ("Jurassic World: Dominion" is set to hit theaters in 2022), Pratt will soon be returning as one of his signature characters.

Emmet Brickowski in "The Lego Movie"

Before 2014's "The Lego Movie" came out, it seemed like a universally-held truth that it was a horrible idea that smacked of crass commercialization and would almost certainly be unwatchable. Then it hit theaters, and audiences were pleasantly surprised to discover that everything was awesome.

Much like "Onward," a massive contributing factor to the film's success was the voice work of Pratt, who brought a surprising amount of goofy charm to the now-iconic Emmet, a simple Lego figurine who wanted more out of life.

The story revolves around a Lego universe in which evil Lord Business (Will Farrell) tries to get a hold of a super weapon called a Kragle from a wizard named Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman). A biker named Wildstyle (Elizabeth Banks) finds a construction worker named Emmet Brickowski (Pratt) has discovered the Piece of Resistance which will allow them to stop Lord Business and defeat the Kragle. It's all nonsense, of course. But it's so much fun!

Pratt takes on the lead role of Emmet and manages to portray the character's vulnerability, optimism, fear, loneliness, joy, and giddiness all through his stellar voice acting work. Pratt showed up again in 2019's "The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part," reprising the role of Emmet but also taking on the role of Rex, a self-described "galaxy-defender, archaeologist, cowboy, and raptor trainer," in a funny nod to his action movie hero roles.

Andy on "Parks and Recreation"

Though Chris Pratt has become a genuine movie star, one of his greatest roles will always be the loveable Andy Dwyer from the NBC sitcom "Parks and Recreation." The mockumentary-style sitcom starred Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope, deputy director of the Parks and Recreation Department in the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana. The series premiered in 2009 and had a rocky first season after which the show was retooled a bit. It eventually became a critical hit, running for six more seasons plus a special.

One of those post-first season changes was bringing on Pratt full time. In the first season, Andy showed up as a character's goody ex-boyfriend for just a six-episode arc, but Andy was quickly made into a series regular. 

"Almost at the point of the audition we were like, 'Oh, we have to re-conceive this, because this guy's the funniest person we've ever seen. We're not letting that guy go,"' series co-creator Michael Schur told Entertainment Weekly in 2014. Indeed, Andy was a goofy, lovable sweetheart that rose up in the ranks of the Parks and Rec department, all because of Pratt's ability to improvise and, as an untrained actor, go toe-to-toe with comedy greats like Poehler.

Peter Quill AKA Star Lord in the MCU

Sure, the "Jurassic" movies are big, international moneymakers, but Pratt's biggest and best role has to be Peter Quill, or Star-Lord as he calls himself, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

Making his MCU debut in 2014's "Guardians of the Galaxy," Pratt lost weight, grew muscle and generally beefed up his body from the overweight Andy in order to play the intergalactic hero. As he told EW during that 2014 interview, when he was approached to audition, he turned it down at first, "I was probably scared," he says, "and thought I was too fat to play a superhero." Pratt's signature cockiness, paired with his charm and goofiness, was a perfect fit for the character, a half human taken from Earth at a young age and thrust into an epic space adventure but still perpetually frozen in the space fantasies of an eight-year-old boy wearing out a cassette tape that reminds him of his mom.

Pratt's version of Quill, along with the other Guardians, brought comedic relief and weirdness to the ongoing Marvel movies, and their camaraderie continued throughout the franchise. Peter Quill went on to appear in "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2," "Avengers: Infinity War," and "Avengers: Endgame." And there's more to come: Peter Quill will reportedly appear in "Thor: Love and Thunder," a 2022 "Guardians" Holiday Special on Disney+, and "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" is set to premiere in 2023.