As Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 — the last leg in a series that has already grossed more than a billion dollars, teamed up with Marvel’s Avengers and Thor and launched a holiday special on Disney+ — nears theaters, franchise lead Chris Pratt is opening up about his tough road to superhero stardom before nabbing the role of Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord.
Last week, Pratt revealed to Jimmy Kimmel that after bombing auditions for early MCU entries Captain America and Thor, he was ready to swear off Marvel movies for good.
Sure, many actors might have been excited simply being on Marvel’s radar. But Pratt tells Yahoo in an unfiltered new interview that he wasn't there for moral victories.
“No,” Pratt says emphatically. “Back when I used to audition for The WB [network], I remember my manager at the time, Bonnie Owens, may she rest in peace, she said, ‘Hey, you're getting so close on these. It's just a matter of time, kid. I know they love you over there.’” (Pratt was eventually cast on WB’s Everwood, and appeared on 89 episodes between 2002 and 2006.)
“And with Marvel, it was like, ‘Did you get any feedback?’ ‘No.’”
Pratt then asked Owens if they said anything at all. “They said you were kind of sweaty,” she told him. “I’m like, ‘Son of a bitch!’ I wasn't getting any closer. I was getting further away. I was like, ‘I'm done. I'm done auditioning for these people.’”
Pratt says he scored an audition for the title role of Captain America (which ultimately went to Chris Evans), but he says he never a shot for the lead of Thor (which went to another Hollywood Chris, Hemsworth).
“I didn't even audition for Thor. I auditioned to be like one of his sidekicks or something like that. And I still didn't even get a callback.”
And it wasn’t just Marvel turning down Pratt, whose biggest fame at that point had come playing Andy Dwyer on NBC’s Parks and Recreation from 2009 to 2015.
“I auditioned for everything. And not just Marvel, every movie, everything where they needed some guy that looked like me who had the ‘it’ factor. They’re just like, ‘Eh.’ I’d just see their eyes glaze over the minute I walked in the room.”
He was frustrated. But he decided to keep plugging away when he met Guardians writer-director James Gunn in 2013.
“I just wasn't ready then like I was when I met James. But hey, consider it all a blessing when you go through hardships, cause it builds up your perseverance.”
Pratt hasn’t had to face much rejection since, with franchise-fronting roles in The Lego Movie, Jurassic World and the reigning box-office blockbuster, The Super Mario Bros. Movie.
Asked how playing Peter Quill over the past decade has changed his life, Pratt comes back to his early-career challenges.
“It was the last thing I auditioned for,” he says. “So for 10-plus years I've been able to just get roles based on the fact that I had done that role. I didn't have to audition for anything. That's pretty cool.”
Guardians of the Galaxy — Vol. 3 opens Friday, May 5 in theaters.
Watch the trailer: