LOS ANGELES – The sixth season of “Parks and Recreation” continues Thursday night after a monthlong hiatus. If things had gone as originally planned, Chris Pratt wouldn’t have been on the show after the first six episodes aired in 2009.
He was hired as a guest star, but his performance as Andy Dwyer was impressive enough that he became a member of the cast.
“He had a certain voice that seemed to work. When they threw all of the characters into a bowl, for some reason this character seemed to pop out. So they weren’t going to let me go,” Pratt said.
Pratt came to the half-hour comedy after working on the hour-long TV dramas “The O.C.” and “Everwood.” He loves being on the comedy, because it’s the closest hours an actor can get to a 9-to-5 job. He and his actress wife, Anna Faris, are new parents, and they can work and still have a home life.
Parenthood and working on the NBC series are just two of the many projects keeping Pratt busy. He’s just returned from London, where he spent five months filming “Guardians of the Galaxy,” the next big feature film based on a Marvel comic.
He also can be seen on the big screen with Vince Vaughn in “Delivery Man,” set to open Nov. 22. The comedy, based on the Canadian film “Starbuck,” has Vaughn playing an energetic sperm donor who finds out he’s the father of hundreds of young men and woman suing to find out the name of their biological father. Pratt plays his best friend and lawyer – a beleaguered family man — who tries to keep the information on the donor confidential.
“The trick was making sure that my character – who is so beaten down and glum – doesn’t come across as depressing,” Pratt said. “He’s a nice contrast to Vince’s character, who is an idealist who wants to take care of these kids and doesn’t see the reality of the situation.”
Pratt’s character well understands the demands of family with four demanding kids. One scene with the children was particularly challenging to film. While he tries to deliver a serious speech about the legal realities of this massive fatherhood, Pratt’s face is repeatedly slapped by the young actress playing his daughter. The scene was made more difficult because it was filmed in freezing weather.
But that was nothing compared to the physicality of “Guardians of the Galaxy,” a film that could launch Pratt into the fandom that comes with starring in a comic-book movie.
He takes a low-key approach to what the film could mean to his career.
“As an actor, you learn to hedge your bets and avoid heartbreak by lowering your expectations,” Pratt says. “You want things to happen, but you don’t want to invest too much in them – with your heart, your soul, your spirit – because if it doesn’t work, you are devastated.”
Everything about being a dad has soared higher than he anticipated. Pratt’s seen a big change in himself since becoming a father because he feels like he has a new window to see the world.
“Everything is exciting for me again,” he said. “The way something feels or smells or tastes or how drawers open. I’m like, ‘Look at that, kid. That is actually really cool.’ ”
He’s already thinking about how he can prepare his son for life.
“I think the lessons I learned from team athletics, to me as an actor, now, are more valuable than what I would have learned doing theater. … I expect there will be something he finds in his life that will provide the same joy to him that I found playing football. That’s all I care about. But, if he starts it, he has to finish it.”