Chris Pratt talks about ‘Magnificent Seven’
LOS ANGELES—Chris Pratt’s charisma and screen presence stand out even amid six other magnetic actors in “The Magnificent Seven,” Antoine Fuqua’s remake of the ’60s classic western.
This time around, the magnificent leads are played by a diverse cast: Chris, Denzel Washington, Vincent D’Onofrio, Lee Byung-hun, Ethan Hawke, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo and Martin Sensmeier. Haley Bennett joins the seven gunfighters defend a peasant village.
Chris was fun and humorous as usual in our recent chat:
Your character Josh Faraday seems to be a man who almost has nothing to lose. How much do you relate to that?
I’ve been there in my life where I felt like I had nothing to lose. But I didn’t approach it like that with Josh Faraday. For me, what he had to gain was redemption.
I thought of this character as somebody who was really desperately trying to convince himself that he is a bad guy. So that way, he didn’t have to feel guilty for all the bad things that he’d done in his life, and for the lives he’s taken.
And through the course of this movie, he starts to realize that maybe he’s not so bad, after all. Maybe inside his heart, there might be some good.
Your character is a wizard with cards. If you were a wizard in real life, what kind of power would you like to have?
Oh, man. I always thought it would be fun to be able to shit in someone else’s pants. That would be kind of fun, huh? Someone makes you mad, you just … boom! And you just watch him needing to leave the room, you know what I mean? If I could have one power, that would definitely be it.
Do you know card tricks in real life?
Yeah, I do. I was like an amateur magician as a kid. I have a couple of cool card tricks that I can do.
For this movie, I trained with a magician, who taught me a few sleight of hand tricks. The trick I do with the card (in a scene), I really did it.
In the original “The Magnificent Seven,” was your role done by Steve McQueen?
Probably Steve McQueen. I’m a big fan of his. I intentionally didn’t see it (original movie) because our director didn’t advocate for that.
Instead, we watched “The Wild Bunch” and “Seven Samurai,” but not “The Magnificent Seven.”
Your costars said filming this movie was like a boys’ boot camp.
Oh, totally. It was cowboy day camp. Like we had an area where we smoked, lifted weights and ate, then our little prison cells where we went and cried waiting for our time to be done (laughs).
There was definitely a lot of camaraderie. Poor Haley (Bennett). By the way, she’s awesome. She doesn’t play your stereotypical female role. She’s tough, bad ass and stands up for herself. She had to put up with a lot of testosterone on this movie and handled it fabulously. She also mothered all of us in her own way. It was sweet, and she was great.
How competitive did it get on the set?
There was not a lot of competitive stuff, but it was a lot of fun to do push-up competitions and stuff.
I won. No, no. It depends on what we’re talking about. When it comes to spinning guns, Manuel (Garcia-Rulfo) won.
Who won in the push-up competition?
I came in third. Martin (Sensmeier) won that, for sure.
So you guys hung out in and out of the set?
Oh, we hung out nonstop, yeah. We worked long hours. Antoine (Fuqua) is that type of director who finds things in the moment, so we had to be there from morning ’til night fully dressed up and ready, even if we didn’t work all day. It was a lot of waiting and sitting around, smoking cigars, spinning guns and talking.
Vincent D’Onofrio was the unofficial captain of our movie. He helped all of us so much not only as a friend, but also as an adviser and acting teacher. He was right there with us.
Ethan Hawke introduced me to all this great music that I hadn’t ever heard before. Like I started becoming a fan of Bob Dylan on this movie. Ethan curated this special Beatles album for me. He knows I’m a fan of the Beatles.
Can you talk about Lee Byung-hun?
Oh, man, I don’t think people realize what a big star he is. He’s like Elvis in Korea. He’s really good. You can see it on camera. He’s such a pro. He is gracious and kind. I want to work with him again.
What are the dark sides of fame?
My wife and I got married in Bali nine years ago; it was a Hindu ceremony. We weren’t necessarily seeking that out, but it happened …
One of the things they did was take a little basket with flowers, rice and incense, and put it down in the corner. They said it is an offering to the dark forces just to say, ‘Hey, look, we recognize that you’re here. We’re giving you this gift, asking that you don’t f*** with this marriage.’
I grew up a Christian [but] … I like what they did in that Hindu ceremony, so the darkness that comes with it are probably people whom you attract to your life.
Ego, losing touch with reality or forgetting where you came from—those can be some dark things, too.
You’re also done filming “Passengers.” How was your experience in that movie?
It was extraordinary. It was not unlike “The Magnificent Seven.” It was a difficult shoot with long hours. But I was working with Jen Lawrence, who’s fabulous. We had the best time. I’m so proud of “Passengers.” I can’t wait for people to see it.
You seem like a really laid-back, fun guy.
It’s all an act. An illusion (laughs).
When was the last time you cried?
This is funny because the last time I cried was the day before yesterday (laughs). I don’t cry all that often, though, but I was hitting the road to go out on this press tour.
When I’m on the road, I’m writing this journal all the time. That got me emotional. When I miss my family, that makes me cry.
You rose from a comedian to an action hero and now, a leading man. What were your expectations when you were just starting?
I didn’t have expectations outside of just not wanting to be a waiter again. I hate that job.
I was like, I know I’m good enough to at least work. If it means that I’m playing a character—like in “Wanted,” where I’m the jerk boyfriend who gets beaten up by the hero at the end of the movie every single time. Hey, if that pays my rent, I’m happy to do that. Those were the only roles I was getting.
Thereafter, I got the “Parks and Recreation” role and even that role was supposed to be the jerky boyfriend who gets pushed aside. Then, I started embracing comedy.
So it was about each little step. I have expectations now. I don’t know if they’re expectations as much as I think there are some movies coming up that are going to be special. I’m sure there’s going to be a moment where I do something that totally bombs.
But the next couple of movies that I’m in are going to be great.
What has been the bravest thing you have done?
Oh, man. Probably getting naked on “Parks and Recreation” when I wasn’t super confident with the way I look naked. In comedy, there’s a certain bravery required, because you wear an egg on your face and you have to be willing to look stupid. I was never all that afraid to do it, so I don’t know if there was ever bravery to do it.
Maybe getting married is an act of bravery.
Yeah, that’s true—getting married in Bali, then drinking the water there. It turns out only one of those things was a good idea.