Chris Pratt rose up the ranks to leading man status with Guardians of the Galaxy, after years of playing supporting roles in movies and TV shows. That MCU blockbuster then led to the actor becoming an A-list superstar at the forefront of a variety of big films throughout the last several years.
While some might be quick to downplay his success, he has certainly proven himself in several roles. A dynamic actor who can bring an earnest, enjoyable giddiness to many parts, including his long-running work on NBC's Parks & Recreation, the star has given us a number of charming characters in many high-profile projects.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, though, we should note a few honorable mentions. These include his brief-but-memorable role in Wanted, as well as his supporting turn in Jennifer's Body. Also Everwood, where he appeared in nearly 100 episodes, as well as his work on The OC. Now, let's get into it!
10. The Magnificent Seven - Josh Faraday
Following the enormous success of 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy, Pratt found himself scoring a number of additional A-list gigs, including Jurassic World, Passengers, and an ever-growing presence in the MCU. Among those high-profile roles was 2016's The Magnificent Seven, based on the 1960 movie of the same name, which found him working alongside top talents like Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio, and more in the starry ensemble.
While this remake didn't reach the ranks of the original, nor does it even compare to Seven Samurai, it was an enjoyable studio picture that saw the action star riding on his charisma and star power as John Faraday, one of the members of the titular crew. Will it be remembered among the great westerns of today and yesteryear? Likely not, but it proved he could hold his own in a high-profile ensemble.
9. Zero Dark Thirty - Justin
When it comes to the elite, now famous Navy task force, Seal Team Six, best known as the trained operatives who killed Osama Bin Laden, it can be easy to make it about the group's efforts and forget about the humanity found therein. In Zero Dark Thirty, the screenplay doesn't dive too deep into their personalities, as the focus is primarily on the task-at-hand.
But, through the strong performances of the talented ensemble, we got a sense of who these men are — or, at least, how they were meant to be perceived. As Justin, Pratt doesn't get a lot of screen-time as the tough guy (though you can see more of him as a similar character in The Terminal List), but he makes the most of it in Kathryn Bigelow's Oscar-winning drama. He allows Justin to be seen as wise-cracking solider, even filled with moments of skepticism, before he helps pull of this brave, incredible operation with his five other Navy Seals.
8. Moneyball - Scott Hatteberg
One of the keys to a really solid Chris Pratt performance is a gentle, even vulnerable sincerity and a disarming Midwestern-esque charm. Certainly, as we will detail throughout this article, that's something that often stands out in his better performances, and that's notably the case with Moneyball.
The excellent 2011 sports drama didn't give him a huge role, but it gave him a crucial one. As Scott Hatteberg, a middling baseball player who is still key to the Oakland Athletics' analytics-driven driven, he plays up his humble sweetness to appropriately winning success, resulting in an underdog performance that helps to drive the film towards its rousing final moments. His performance really helps the film hit home.
7. The Five-Year Engagement - Alex Eilhauer
A few years after he became a dependable comedic actor, he earned one of his biggest, most prominent film roles in 2012's The Five-Year Engagement. As Alex Eilhauer, the romance-loving best friend of the lead (played by co-writer Jason Segel), Pratt's character finds himself quickly marrying his sweetheart, Suzie (Alison Brie), all while our lead protagonists (including Emily Blunt) find themselves in the extended engagement of the title.
In a role that's not too dissimilar from Andy Dwyer, he didn't necessarily stretch himself here, knowing full well that he was there as the "best friend" character. Nevertheless, he made the part his own, stealing a few scenes throughout and providing a constant stream of laughs in the altogether pretty solid, subversive studio rom-com.
6. Her - Paul
Though Her is undoubtedly Joaquin Phoenix's movie, even though star Scarlett Johansson and her voice-only performance shouldn't be diminished, Pratt's fun, charming supporting turn as Paul (the mustachioed, good-natured co-worker of our lead character) can't be ignored.
Though he only has a few scenes in the film — which could very well be one of the best he's been involved in to date, despite his limited screen-time — Her is, nevertheless, a fine showcase for how The Super Mario Bros. Movie lead can bring a lot of personality and warmth to even a minor role. It's another likable, enjoyable supporting turn from the comedic actor, one that brings levitate and good humor to this masterpiece film.
5. Strangers With Candy - Brason
Before becoming a household name, Pratt made his way into the business by playing a variety of supporting roles. 2005's Strangers with Candy, based on the Comedy Central series of the same name starring Amy Sedaris and Stephen Colbert, is more of a cult classic, but it does have one of his earliest performances as Brason, a handsome student athlete used to charm middle-aged prostitute-turned-high schooler Jerri (Sedaris) away from the science team.
Though he's often left to play second-or-third fiddle to the film's leads — some of whom, like Colbert, would also go on to become household names — his boyish charm is as apparent and winning here as it'd become in his beloved aforementioned future roles.
4. Onward - Barley Lightfoot
Away from his live action work, his talents as a voice actor can sometimes be undervalued. Though he is beginning to add an interesting variety of voice roles to his arsenal (like Mario, and Garfield in another upcoming comedy), his boisterous, infectiously giddy vocal style plays well in the right role. That was certainly the case when Pratt became Barley Lightfoot as part of the Onward cast.
As the lore-loving elf and the older brother of our main character, Ian (Tom Holland), who becomes a mentor when the two siblings go on a quest to fully revive their deceased father, his emotional, endearing performance was filled with bouts of heart and humor. His affection and admiration for his young brother was palpable and winning, with joyous enthusiasm and rousing pride at his magical accomplishments. Particularly as Onward reached its tearful finale, his voice work became a spellbinding success.
3. The LEGO Movie - Emmet Brickowski
Likewise, the actor's talents for providing a giddy, appropriately animated enthusiasm to cartoon characters was heard most prominently in The LEGO Movie and its sequel, The LEGO Movie: The Second Part.
He plays Emmet Brickowski, an average, naive, and completely bright-eyed construction worker in the town of Bricksburg who is believed to be The Special (i.e. the piece who will bring justice and order amid a prophecy of chaos). His ability to portray guileless, disarmingly sweet-natured man-children worked extremely well in this surprisingly poignant movie with winning performances, notably from him as our lead. Ultimately, it's Pratt's endearing performance (which we can got more of in the new The Super Mario Bros. Movie) that really makes this hit come together.
2. Parks And Recreation - Andy Dwyer
Before he became a major star through his leading man turn in the Guardians of the Galaxy blockbusters, the talent was best known as Andy Dwyer, the goofy, dim-witted but puppy-dog sweet guy who eventually works for Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), the Pawnee, Indiana parks department deputy director in NBC's fittingly-titled Parks and Recreation.
The show didn't quite reach the cultural highs of The Office, but was eventually met with acclaim and a loving fanbase. It also boosted the careers of Nick Offerman, Aubrey Plaza, Rashida Jones, and Aziz Ansari, in addition to Pratt. Following a bumpy first season, it was retooled and celebrated for its strong writing, warm characters, and great performances from its hilarious ensemble. Often, though, it was Pratt who memorably stole scenes and won viewers' affections.
1. Guardians Of The Galaxy - Peter Quill/Star-Lord
In the role that turned this likable supporting actor into a major movie star, Peter Quill, i.e. Star-Lord, is by far his most recognizable role, and that's no accident. While it benefitted from being part the MCU, Guardians of the Galaxy took a little-known comic book and turned into one of the biggest blockbusters of the 2010s.
That's thanks to many, but Pratt's performance can't be dismissed. As the rascal-with-a-heart-of-gold, Star-Lord is like Han Solo with a daddy complex, and more irreverent to boot, but Pratt's wide-eyed sincerity took what could've been an unlikable prick and turned him into an earnest space-traveler who wants to be loved. By the end of Vol. 3, we'd seen way more of his emotional side, including how he finally started to come to terms with a big change in his personal life. Quill's new vulnerability added to one of the most emotional MCU installments.
Chris Pratt is still very much at the top of his game, and with the monster box office of Super Mario Bros. (and fans already asking for a sequel), the well-reviewed Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and his role in The Electric State cast, there won't be any shortage of news on the actor any time soon.
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Will is an entertainment writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. His writing can also be found in The Playlist, Cut Print Film, We Got This Covered, The Young Folks, Slate and other outlets. He also co-hosts the weekly film/TV podcast Cinemaholics with Jon Negroni and he likes to think he's a professional Garfield enthusiast.