His films have earned more than $10 billion (€9.64 billion), he is one of the 10 highest-grossing actors in history, he currently has two successful movies (Thor: Love and Thunder and Jurassic World: Dominion) and Amazon Prime just released his production, The Terminal List, for which he earned a million and a half dollars for each of its eight episodes. His third child—a daughter—was born just a month ago, and his marriage to Katherine Schwarzenegger seems to be the picture of domestic bliss. However, judging by his latest comments to Men’s Health, the 43-year-old, Virginia-born Chris Pratt does not seem to be a completely happy man. Why? He feels that the public doesn’t like him, or rather that he has become a favorite target of the cesspool that is social media. “Why are they coming after me?” he wonders.
To understand his complaint, one only needs to go back to October 2020, when documentary filmmaker Amy Berg posted a presumably innocent poll. She wrote the sentence “One has to go” alongside four photos of the moment’s four most famous actors named Chris—Evans, Pratt, Pine and Hemsworth, all attractive white men starring in one or more superhero franchises.
Berg’s followers and others took care of the rest. Her tweet soon took on political overtones, giving rise to a dispute between those who deemed Pratt “the worst Chris in Hollywood” because of his allegedly conservative political views, and those who felt compelled to rescue him from the progressives’ ire. The confrontation became so heated that Berg called for them to stop, claiming that her tweet had turned into “a hate-filled shit-fest on both sides.”
It was a harmless joke, but it revealed a deeper truth. Something about that successful, good-looking, affable guy didn’t quite sit right with viewers. He seems to know the roots of that hatred. In his latest extensive interview with Men’s Health, he blames it on his eagerness to show his gratitude to God in all of his public appearances.
“I didn’t know that I would kind of become the face of religion when really I’m not a religious person. I think there’s a distinction between being religious—adhering to the customs created by man, oftentimes appropriating the awe reserved for who I believe is a very real God—and using it to control people, to take money from people, to abuse children, to steal land, to justify hatred. Whatever it is,” he said.
Interviewer Mickey Rapkin has his own hypothesis about the animus the actor provokes: “It’s possible that Pratt has been a victim of his own success, both on screen and in the gym,” he muses. Perhaps one can find the root of the problem somewhere between the two theories. But the truth is, Pratt’s epic journey has been made difficult only by the stumbling blocks he created himself. Indeed, until his arrival in Hollywood—a place of suffering and sacrifice for most stars—Pratt’s path unfolded with a curious simplicity.
At 19, while working as a waiter in Hawaii at a Bubba Gump, the shrimp restaurant franchise based on the Forrest Gump character, he spotted Rae Dawn Chong, an actress from The Color Purple and Commando—one of those 1980s Arnold Schwarzenegger video store classics, which Pratt had seen “more than 4,000 times”—at one of the tables. He was so enthusiastic that Chong asked him if he was also an actor. Pratt replied that he had never acted beyond the occasional school performance, and the actress, who at the time was in pre-production for her first short film, offered him a part. She was the first to detect that elusive star quality in him.
It was a terrible movie, but Pratt saw it as an opportunity to get an agent and a manager. From there, everything fell into place. He specialized in playing likable, good-natured characters. After a few supporting roles in teen TV shows like Everwood and The OC, he got his most important role, Parks and Recreation’s Andy Dwyer. He’d only been scheduled to appear in a half-dozen episodes, but the producers liked him so much that he stayed on the show until the series ended
The role that made Pratt famous also pigeonholed him. His appearance and air of naivete kept him from the roles he wanted: after he was rejected for parts in Avatar and Star Trek for being overweight, he began to pay attention to his physique and started looking for projects beyond comedy. In addition to his work on the NBC series, he earned roles in prestigious films such as Zero Dark Thirty, Moneyball and Her. When he was cast in Guardians of the Galaxy, he dazzled casting director Sarah Finn, but director James Gunn was hesitant.
“The chubby guy from Parks and Recreation? No.” It took Gunn 20 seconds to change his mind. “He’s like Gary Cooper, he’s like John Wayne,” the director later declared. “He’s got all the classic movie star stuff and the ability to make people laugh.” That ability to combine action and humor also earned him access to another coveted role: the lead in the new Jurassic movie. His new and imposing physique (he lost 36 kilos in six months) had made him a fashionable hero. He gave up beer and huge meals. The plump, friendly little guy was now the first choice for roles he couldn’t have dreamed of before.
In 2009 he married actress Anna Faris, the star of Scary Movie, House Bunny and the TV series Mom. They became one of social media’s favorite couples. Hollywood wants “Bennifer” and “Brangelina” to feed its glamour, but it also needs real couples. Chris and Anna made their everyday life aspirational. They seemed charming, fun, and approachable.
The public fell in love with the pair so intensely that the end of his marriage to Faris in 2017 represented the first blemish on Pratt’s public image as an ordinary guy turned action megastar. Various media speculated that the separation was caused by Pratt’s infidelity and inability to deal with his new physique and newfound fame. His subsequent marriage to Katherine Schwarzenegger, the daughter of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, was not well received either.
It didn’t matter that Faris had also gotten on with her life and took every opportunity to show her affection for her ex-husband on social media: “My sweet Chris, my ex, got engaged to Katherine today, and I’m so happy for them. I knew it was coming, and I love them both. I’m so happy they found each other,” she wrote after Pratt announced his engagement. But nothing subdued his haters, especially when the actor posted a seemingly innocuous message celebrating his love for his new wife.
Pratt’s post remarked on the loving gaze with which his new bride looked at him and thanked her for having given him “a wonderful and healthy daughter.” It was apparently an emotional, simple, and tender message, but some people interpreted it as disparaging to Jack, his son with Faris, a premature baby who, after suffering a brain hemorrhage, had been born with permanent damage to his vision and muscles. “You have a son with your ex-wife, Anna Faris, who unfortunately suffers from very small health problems and you can’t think of anything else to do but upload a post with your new wife and emphasize that she has given you a super healthy daughter,” tweeter Mary Wachi pointed out, criticizing Pratt in a message that was retweeted almost 1800 times. Pratt spoke to Men’s Health about this mistake. “That is fucked up. My son’s gonna read that one day. He’s nine. And it’s etched in digital stone. It really fucking bothered me, dude. I cried about it.”
His marriage to Katherine Schwarzenegger has heightened perceptions of Pratt’s conservatism at a time of extreme political polarization in the country: his father-in-law—action-movie legend Arnold Schwarzenegger—had been California’s governor as a Republican. It didn’t help that Pratt was the only star of the Marvel Cinematic Universe who did not join the Democrats’ fundraiser to support candidate Joe Biden, or that he did not participate in the Parks and Recreation cast reunion in support of the Wisconsin Democratic Party.
These absences led to the assumption that Pratt supported Trump, and he was even labeled a white supremacist. Moreover, in an interview with Men’s Journal, he somewhat dully claimed that there were few stories about white men in Hollywood. “I don’t see personal stories that I identify with, because they’re not my stories. I think there’s room for me to tell mine, and there’s probably an audience that would welcome hearing them. The voice of the average working-class American is not well represented in Hollywood.”
Each controversy has intensified the sense that Pratt was a dope, but not the likable one he appeared to be on screen. In 2019 he had a contentious exchange with actor Elliott Page on Twitter. The star of The Umbrella Academy accused Pratt of belonging to the “infamously anti-LGBTBIQ” Zoe Church. That church has ties to the controversial Hillsong evangelical megachurch and is linked to stars like Justin Bieber and Kendall Jenner. “Nothing could be further from the truth. I go to a church that opens its doors to absolutely everyone,” the actor said to defend himself. But in 2017, Zoe Church’s pastor produced The Heart of Man, a film that portrays homosexuality as something to fight against, like porn addiction or infidelity. Three years after the controversy, Pratt is still attempting to apologize for it.
Even something as seemingly innocuous as diet caused Pratt to get into hot water. A post about barbecued lamb sparked a controversy, though it was actually intended to make the case for his small, allegedly cruelty-free livestock farm. But the post backfired because it compared killing a suckling lamb to unplugging a television.
Pratt’s missteps and the sharp knives of social media make for a lethal combination. Long gone are the days when BuzzFeed described him as “the human golden retriever of your dreams.” The mystery of how some people think so negatively of a star who seems to try so hard to be liked led Vulture journalist Joan Summers to conduct an exhaustive - and ironic - investigation of him. “Chris Pratt is a man who stands for everything and nothing at all, depending on who is looking at him. His blank canvas politics make him the perfect focal point for everyone’s collective projections. In turn, that vagueness protects his Hollywood interests, removing the risk of alienating prospective viewers and fans entirely,” she wrote. “Personally, I find that much more frightening. "
The animosity that Pratt arouses has not yet reached bottom. On the same day that the actor’s complaint was published, Twitter returned to the fray. In a message that quickly went viral, a waiter mocked the actor’s attempt to distance himself from Christianity and claimed that Pratt had discriminated against him. “Sir, I’ve seen you publicly pray in a restaurant over a pound of bison meat, and you didn’t tip me shit compared to what you’ve tipped straight waiters before.” It seems the public is still hungry to watch Pratt on screen. Unfortunately for him, they’re also eager to see him on Twitter threads.