Chris Pratt on the way up

Chris Pratt is a leading actor in the making.

IT is not often that you hear a Hollywood hunk talking about his embarrassing problem with “boob sweat”.

Then again, Chris Pratt, the 34-year-old actor best known for playing goofballs and sidekicks, is not your typical hunk, even as he positions himself to become one of Hollywood’s newest leading men with a string of high-profile movie roles.

Still, he spends much of a recent press conference for The Lego Movie, his biggest project to date, cracking jokes about how thoroughly average he is and being a bit of a class clown – hence the unprompted confession about boob sweat. And this despite the fact that he gets more than his fair share of admiring glances when he walks in.

In the animated feature, Pratt is the voice of Emmet, a Lego construction-worker minifigurine who realises just how unremarkable he is when he is suddenly called on to save the world.

The actor, best known for his role on the Golden Globe- and Emmy-nominated television comedy Parks And Recreation, is asked whether it is hard to play a character who is supposed to be utterly bland.

“Well, maybe for someone else, it would be difficult playing someone completely average. It was not much of a stretch for me,” he says, deadpan. “There’s this guy who’s very average, very dim, but given the opportunity to do something extraordinary. I felt like they couldn’t have cast a better person.”

He points good-naturedly to directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. “I think when they were creating this guy, they were like, ‘Who’s kind of totally forgettable and the least likely person to be a hero’, and went, ‘What about Chris?’”

Miller quickly jumps in to say that “we picked Chris because he’s super funny, charming, hilarious and warm”.

Yet in his career, Pratt has not exactly stood out from the crowd thus far. He has had a series of supporting roles in films such as Her (2013) and The Five-Year Engagement (2012), as well as the television drama Everwood (2002-2006), in which he played variations on the same character - the dumb jock or lovable idiot.

But the actor - who is married to The House Bunny star Anna Faris, 37, and has a one-year-old son with her - is slowly breaking out of that mould with more dramatic roles, playing a washed-up baseball player in the 2011 sports drama Moneyball and a Navy Seal in the 2012 Osama-hunt thriller Zero Dark Thirty.

And he has landed a plum part in this year’s upcoming Marvel superhero movie, Guardians Of The Galaxy, in which he gets top billing, ahead of Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper. He was also announced as the lead in 2015’s Jurassic World, the long-awaited fourth instalment of the Jurassic Park franchise.

Still, while these seem to be teeing him up as the next chiselled action hero, Pratt says one of the things he enjoyed most about doing The Lego Movie is that he did not have to worry about how he looked on camera.

“You’re allowed to shed all your vanity,” says the actor, who lost weight and buffed up for his role as Star-Lord in Guardians Of The Galaxy. “You probably shouldn’t care about how you look, but if you’re making these big faces and sounds on camera, I’d be like, ‘I think I’m overdoing it; reel it in.’”

Alone in a sound booth pretending to be a Lego action hero, Pratt could get as animated as he wanted. “You get to go as big as you want, you get to be drenched in sweat, and there’s not somebody embarrassingly mopping all your sweat off.

“Because that’s the first thing that will start ringing that bell of insecurity in me - I don’t look right, my hair’s messed up or I have, like, boob sweat.”

Pratt has fellow cast members Will Arnett, Elizabeth Banks and Morgan Freeman in stitches by this point, but presses on with even more lurid details.

“I have two ‘smiles’ of boob sweat on my T-shirt, and now someone has to give me a new T-shirt, and take a hairdryer to my boobs, and I have to do another scene.

“It’s very embarrassing, you know, acting. So to not have anyone recording what you look like when you’re making sounds is very helpful.” – The Straits Times, Singapore/Asia News Network

> The Lego Movie is currently playing in cinemas nationwide.

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Chris Pratt on the way up


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