Onward's story moved Chris Pratt to tears
Chris Pratt, who voices a character in new Pixar movie, cried when story was pitched as it related to him in a personal way
Chris Pratt could not help but cry when writer-director Dan Scanlon pitched him to voice a character in the new Pixar movie Onward, because of how "touching" the story was.
Opening here tomorrow, it centres on two elf brothers, Ian and Barley Lightfoot (voiced by Tom Holland and Pratt respectively), who receive a wizard's staff and a spell on Ian's 16th birthday.
They are gifts from their dead father that allow the boys to bring him back for one day.
But things go wrong when only the lower half of dad is reanimated, and the brothers have to go on a quest to bring the rest of him back.
On why Onward's plot resonated with him so deeply, the 40-year-old US actor said: "It speaks to a relationship between two brothers, especially if that relationship is founded in the trauma of a lost parent. It's really specific for me as I have both of those things.
"My brother and I were very, very close, and we lost our dad two weeks before Guardians Of The Galaxy came out (in 2014).
"I was moved to tears from that moment and instantly dedicated myself to whatever (Dan) needed to help to tell his story."
We sat down for our interview at the SLS Beverly Hills hotel, and Pratt reassured me that there were also lighter moments during the filming process, obviously.
While most animated movies require the voice actors to record separately, Pratt - who had worked with Holland before in Avengers: Endgame (2019) - got some booth time with his Marvel Cinematic Universe co-star.
"You might not be able to tap into stuff if you are just sitting there alone reading lines.
"So they had us get together for a few of the scenes where we are interacting with one another. Ultimately, it's not the best environment to improvise because then you are overlapping with one another, you are messing up someone's audio track, or someone is laughing and it ruins the take, but it's smart to have a little bit of that."
And then there is Barley's beloved van nicknamed Guinevere, which he treats as his mighty steed more than just a set of wheels.
Pratt, who lived in a van for a while before fame beckoned, could certainly relate.
He said: "I actually have had three vans in my life. One was a van I bought for 50 dollars. It leaked oil and transmission fluid, it was a nightmare to drive. It barely would turn on, but I would drive it for about five or six months in my senior year in high school.
"I was inspired by the character who has the van in Teen Wolf. I would surf on the roof and do everything that they did in Teen Wolf.
"And then I had a minivan when I was a door-to-door salesman.
"And then when I lived in Hawaii, I had another van which was my primary residence for about eight or nine months, right on the beach."
He has come a long way since then, and getting used to his stardom was an incremental process for Pratt, who has headlined blockbuster series like The Lego Movie, Guardians Of The Galaxy and Jurassic World.
"It's sort of step by step, day by day. You tend to get used to things that seemed unimaginable at the onset."
He told the story of how he first met Iron Man himself, Robert Downey Jr, at a Guardians Of The Galaxy audition.
"They said, 'You are going to have to go toe to toe with Robert Downey Jr.' In that moment I was like, 'Oh my God, they think that I can go toe to toe with Robert Downey Jr, I can't believe what they think of me.'
"And now I have got to know him, I consider him a friend. I have his phone number, we hang out, I see him on set, and he's just another guy to me. So, it's like over time, you get used to these things.
"If you are wise, you will say, 'I need to stop and look around me and recognise how incredible this is,' but it's really hard to do. It's a giant whirlwind and time goes by really quickly.
"If I have learnt anything through the course of this, it's that it will teach you just how special things that you already had were - your family, your own house, your bed.
"People ask me where I want to go on vacation and I say, 'I have been all around the world, I want to go home.' That's where I want to go on vacation - to my living room," he said with a laugh.
For a couple of years now, Pratt has been raising lambs, chickens and cows on his farm on the San Juan Islands in Washington state.
He said: "It's lambing season right now. We just had our first lamb last night. We have 56 pregnant ewes and five pregnant doe goats. And so we are going to have between 70 baby lambs and about seven baby goats if all goes well."
Ever since he married Katherine Schwarzenegger last June, the oldest child of movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger, everyone wants to know how Pratt gets on with his famous father-in-law.
He said: "As for all kids, especially of my era of the late '80s, he was a god to all of us. We loved Predator, Commando, Terminator and all of the comedies. I followed his career forever. He's an icon and a legend and he still is. But he's just a man and he's my father-in-law and I respect him. And he's a great dad and I've always admired him as an actor, but I've come to admire him as a man."
The writer is the chair of the board of directors of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a non-profit organisation of entertainment journalists that also organises the annual Golden Globe Awards