Chris Pratt made the leap from Andy Dwyer to pants-melting superhero dinosaur tamer seemingly overnight, and one thing (of ALL the things) to love about the guy is that he doesn’t usually sugarcoat how difficult that transition was. Sure, at first he kept to the “I just stopped drinking beer and now I have this new life— wow!” line, but he dropped that pretty quickly in favor of a more honest narrative. Pratt changed his image and his career in a crazy short time, and that would mess with anyone’s sense of self. What’s harder is that all of those changes are in large part due to changes he made to his body. Body image struggles are nothing foreign to celebrities, but we don’t often get to hear men talk about them this openly.
Pratt says his way of viewing his career through the lens of his physique isn’t new. When he was first starting out, he said he would get cast as assholes— specifically the “bad boyfriends”— because he “looked like an asshole.” But as he became more known for comedy, he was getting cast in funnier roles over supporting asshole roles, and letting himself gain weight.
I saw myself and I thought, ‘Wow, I’m getting fat.’ And then immediately I was like, ‘This is the funniest…’ I was making myself laugh. I was: ‘That’s where it’s at. There’s no one doing that. No one being like a super-confident dumb fat guy.’ So I started.”And he says he didn’t want to stop there. He asked the Parks & Rec showrunners if he could keep gaining weight, and they liked the idea. Because comedy.
So I just got fatter, and the laughs kept coming, and it was funnier and funnier. And in that moment I was like, ‘Oh great, I found my niche—this is paying better than the asshole-boyfriend parts.’While the pressures women in Hollywood face may exist on a different scale— the insistence for women to achieve a very specific kind of physical attractiveness is harder to work outside of, and bleeds out nearly universally to women everywhere, not just those in the entertainment industry— men in this business also have their careers and potentially their general sense of worth tied to their bodies. And though we’re used to seeing actors (and all humans) pressured to be more fit, more attractive, Pratt illustrates why it’s damaging to have your sense of self bound up in what your body looks like, in any sense. Placing value (emotionally and monetarily) on your weight is a bad idea, no matter which way the scale’s going.
I’m sure I was the first guy in line to buy that line of bullshit. I also understood that there was value to it—my comedic nature understood the irony of a super-happy fat sweaty guy who is completely confident and accepting of who he was. That’s fascinating to people. I mean, I was never as big as Chris Farley, but you look at Chris Farley—that’s what made him so magical. Because other people look just like him, and they’re like, ‘Why is this guy not crippled with self-doubt? Fuck, that’s awesome. I wish I could feel that way.’ Well, I don’t think Chris Farley did feel that way. I think he killed himself with drugs and alcohol and buried himself in an addiction to hide the fact that he didn’t feel what he was projecting on the outside. I think that’s often the case with comedians.Pratt also touches on the physical effects of his weight gain, saying, “My bones ached, I had cardiovascular issues, I was unhealthy, I was feeling rotten.” But of course it’s not all as cut and dry as eat better/lose weight/feel better. When we link our sense of self to our physical appearance (which we all do, don’t we? To some extent?), things get messy.
I think I was outwardly having more fun. I was more fun to be around, probably. That image that I was casting, to convince people that I was okay, was a really fun person to hang around. Now I have less fun. I focus more.