It has been 22 years since the release of the first Jurassic Park film. Since then, two sequels have been released, but it would be fourteen years before audiences would ever get to step foot into the park again. In Jurassic World, Isla Nublar has been turned into a successful theme park. In order to meet certain demands and keep park attendance high, the theme park’s CEO unveils the Indominus Rex, the first ever hybrid dinosaur. Unbeknownst to her, the park’s private security team seeks to use the dinosaurs for military purposes, and it will be up to Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) to stop them from succeeding.
We were invited to the Jurassic World press conference recently, where we had the chance to talk to Chris Pratt with other journalists about shooting Jurassic World, some of his real world hunting experiences that helped him shape the character of Owen Grady, how Owen is a different bad ass from Peter Quill, and more.
Check out the full interview below.
Q: You’ve been known to do a lot of hunting and fishing on your downtime. How does your experience in dealing with animals influence your approach to Owen Grady?
Chris Pratt: Yes. I was just talking about this. I love this story because it’s true. And it’s one of those stories I will tell forever, and I am glad I could tell it to you guys because if I wasn’t at a press conference, I would be telling it to my buddies, and this is way better. I was on an elk hunt about eight, nine years ago. I had shot an elk the first day, so my tag was filled. I was on a hunt with these other two guys, Mike and Ian, and they didn’t have me come with them because it was a dry time of year. Because of the aspen leaves in fall, it was loud and crunchy, so two less feet in the woods was better, because it was so loud. So I’m walking around camp, because they have these things called grouse. They are dumb little birds. They are like a cross between corn, and an animal that I feel like God put them to be here like, “Ah… even the dummies got to eat, so I’ll give you grouse.” I was out to shoot these grouse with the single 22, tiny little gun, basically a bb gun. So I’m out looking for grouse, and I see on the hill… something. The sun is coming up behind the hill, so it was a silhouette of a giant beast, I assume it was a monster bull elk. I go back quickly to the tent and radio in Mike and Ian, and say, “Hey… there is something here, I think it is a huge elk. Stand by. I am going to get a better look, but you might want to come back this way, because one of you guys should shoot this big elk.” I come back, I look up, and I don’t see it. Now I’m looking through my binoculars, and I don’t see this animal. Meanwhile, I am wearing slippers, pajamas, and I have my single shot bb gun, 22, and I hear this loud breathing. And ten feet from me is this big bull moose. Moose are incredibly dangerous. They kill more people in North America than bears and wolves combined. Very, very dangerous animals in the wild. They’re huge, 1,000 pounds, this thing is monstrous, and I’m thinking to myself, “Oh. I’m going to die right now.” And so it’s looking at me, running its foot into the ground, and I don’t look at it in the eyes, because maybe I heard “don’t look at it in the eyes” or something. And I take a step back. And as I take a step back, it takes a step towards me, and it’s a standoff between me and this giant beast. I take another step back, and it takes another step towards me. I can still smell this creature, it’s so vivid in my brain. Steam coming out of its nose, you could see it because it’s so cold. I have this little tiny gun, I’m thinking to myself, “If it attacks me, I have to stick this little thing in its eye or something, to try to shoot it, because there is no way this thing will kill it, it will just make it mad. I take one more step, and instead of taking one step, it takes three steps towards me. And I think I nearly fainted, and then it just turns and walks off not two feet from me, and didn’t care who I was, and it just walked off into the wild.
If anything from the wild informed me on this movie, when I am doing that scene with the raptors – I told this story to Colin, and said, “There is something really scary about having something standing in front of you, and if you step back a few inches, it comes at you a few inches. Like that suspense building that up informed me a little bit, by that experience I had in the wild.
Q: So in the first Jurassic World trailer, we got to see that Chris Pratt calls upon the raptors to be a part of his hunting group. In fact, my friend called them the Raptor Power Force. Was there a name you called them as a collective?
Chris Pratt: Like did I have my own team name?
Chris Pratt: No, no I didn’t. I think Raptor Power Force, I will use that. I did some work in terms of creating the kinds of techniques this guy would use, which was a real character, this was a real opening at a park. Like, who would this guy be, because when Colin first pitched this to me, I was all over the place in terms of how I would bring it. “Oh so he’s like the Crocodile Hunter? Should I do an Australian accent?” And he’s like, “Oh no maybe not.” He was like he wants this to be real, no matter who the character is, he wanted this to seem real. We need to create an organic relationship between man and beast that will strike some emotional cord hopefully, and people will give a shit about this relationship between this guy and his dinosaur. Which is a tough thing to accomplish, especially when the dinosaurs are cg and animated characters. So moving forward with it, I did some research. I got to hang out with some pretty awesome animal trainers. There is this one guy, his name is Randy Miller, he owns a company called Predators In Action. It’s a company that trains vicious cats, bears, tigers, lions, and things like that, to do simulated attacks in shows and movies. So his tigers were in Gladiator, and the bear was in Semi-Pro, and he does one of the commercials for Puma. He’s got all kinds of amazing animals. I went to his ranch, hung out with him, spent the day seeing him interact with these animals. That was the big part of having that clicker, and the posture I adopted was part of the research that I did.
Q: In a way both Owen and Peter Quill are badasses, so how did you make sure that Owen was his own brand of badass?
Chris Pratt: I do feel that it is a different character. I approached it as a character who is different from Peter Quill. A huge part of that was just Colin’s [Trevorrow] vision. He had always mentioned to me that he had this term called the third rail. The third rail for him – I didn’t grow up in a city with a subway, but apparently in a subway there are three rails, and the third one could kill you. So that was the third rail for me. He had this third rail where I start being goofy, or acting like a dipshit, or going to my normal comedic bag of tricks, some of which I used in Guardians of the Galaxy, certainly the character from Parks and Rec Andy Dewyer is a full embodiment of that type of clowning around, that comedic shtick that I am known for, that was my third rail. If I wanted to have any fun with this, it was going to be in my repertoire between me and Claire. My relishing to be able to spar with her, kind of get her goad a little bit. That’s where I could have my fun. But for the most part, I was deadly serious. There was a bit of darkness that this guy has been through something, and it goes back to who would this guy be, who would me be if there was a job opening, and if he need a person to fill this position. We came together and decided he probably at one point trained dolphins for the navy, and saw what treatment these animals received, and it was not great for the animals. We decided the likelihood that in all the years that he has been working for the park, this isn’t his first set of raptors, and that some of the raptors didn’t make it through the training. Some of these animals died under his watch, they killed each other under his watch, and there were certain techniques that didn’t work. So we’ve come a long way, and a lot of these animals have paid the sacrifice for the work that I am doing for this company. That’s pretty serious. There isn’t a lot of room for goofing around when you are playing that role, a guy who has been through combat, a combat veteran who lives on an island. There is a bit of darkness, who has chosen to move away from the world, and live on the dark side of an island. All that stuff is interesting and fun to see a character work, made me want to be someone who isn’t just – I love Peter Quill and I love Andy, and I look forward to playing Peter Quill again. It’s super fun, but this was just something a little different for me.
Q: Which dinosaur was the biggest asshole? And could you outrun that dinosaur in heels like Bryce Dallas Howard?
Chris Pratt: Which dinosaur was the biggest asshole? I guess Indominus Rex was a big asshole. Just mean, just a mean dinosaur. But like most assholes, had a tough upbringing. Kinda feel a little bit bad for it.
Q: But could you out run it like Bryce?
Chris Pratt: Likely no. But I did run in heels for the first time while on the James Cordon show, and a) kinda liked the way it felt walking in them, and b) I surprised myself in running in them, kinda like tippy toe running. But I would not be able to outrun the Indominus Rex. But with enough practice, I might get a good 40 or 50 feet before I was killed.
Q: Did you know that you would have three franchises to your name?
Chris Pratt: Always knew it. I was like, “As soon as I have three franchises to my name…” No, I never would have known. I could not have known. No way. It’s a pretty fine space to be in. So I am feeling very blessed and overcome with joy.
Q: Would you consider a return to TV or are you just focused on doing films right now?
Chris Pratt: I think, the platform for entertainment is shifting so rapidly right now. Kind of like my favorite stuff to watch is TV, because you get to watch stuff like this show on CBS called Mom, my very favorite show on the air, I could go on and on about it. Just the tones they hit tonally and comedically, and the actress is stunning. I would like to have a baby with her (lead Anna Faris is Pratt’s wife).
TV is extraordinary right now. There’s so many outlets, there’s just so much media outlets, and what is kind of neat about TV is that you get an opportunity to tell really rich stories over the course of 20 hours. It’s essentially like a novel of this type of medium. Film is cool. It’s about an hour and a half to two hours, typically three acts – beginning, middle, and end. And you get to go on an adventure. By the end you get a franchise where you have three chapters of a great story. But in TV, you can not only get deep into the character, but also the relationship and stories, and all relationships with people in your life, and how those people have relationships with each other. It’s just more dense and more time to tell stories. I would definitely not rule out doing TV in the future, because I think it is a great medium for telling stories. It can be practically very nice for a family man, to have nine months out of the year in the city, where you are close to your home, for Parks and Rec, it took me seven minutes to get to work. Kind of amazing. Nine months out of the year that I would work right down the road, I’d come home for dinner every night, have my weekends at home, it was nice. Movie making, you could be half way around the world for six months. So there are amazing benefits to doing TV, and with the platform changing the way it is, I would never ever rule out doing TV again.
Q: So how did you shoot that finale? Was it on a green screen?
Chris Pratt: Wasn’t that awesome? Talk about going out with a bang. It was unreal, like a whole new gear. Making that was not nearly as fun as watching it. It’s a lot of small pieces. Essentially the way that it works, it’s kind of neat, many of you know this, but if you don’t, I think it’s pretty cool. But by the time we are filming that sequence, we are actually re-filming it. There is this thing where directors are going to an edit room and they will cut together their movie, and they will see all the footage and they are like, “Oh man, what I wished we would have done is this, this, and this,” but by that time it would be too late, because the movie is already in the can, and the actors are gone. So what they do with a movie like this, is what they did for Guardians of the Galaxy, is they essentially direct and create an animated version of the movie. So there is a like a cartoon version of this movie. It’s not great, but it’s essentially a moving story board, every shot, every piece, and it’s like this cartoon version. In a way, it’s like you put together this 1,000 piece puzzle, and you have to look at the front of the box, you have to look at the picture, because you’re like “this piece goes here.” So this animatic works as the front of the box. By the time we are shooting this sequence, and trust me, it is even more boring to shoot, than it is to hear me talk about it. You are basically looking at the animatic, and you’re like, “Okay, this is going to play for this piece,” and it is a camera move from up here to down to here, and you know there are going to be two dinosaurs there, and I am just running by. Then you look at it and go, “Eh, that’s probably going to fit,” you know, and then you go onto the next piece. So depending on what the set up was, or what the day is, you end up getting to do some really cool stuff. Sometimes you end up having great interaction with the other actors. Sometimes you have some really intense interactions with what will be the raptors. And sometimes you are just a prop, and you’re like moving from left to right and then stopping, and then firing a gun, and then doing a dive roll this way.