Jurassic World Interview: Chris Pratt on Training Raptors and Wearing High Heels

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Most TV comedy stars hope to have as much success in movie comedies as they had on half hour TV shows. Chris Pratt did a few comedies while he was on Parks and Recreation, but as the show wound down he became a full on action hero in Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy. Now he's saving Jurassic World from a rampaging Indominus Rex. 

Q: You're an outdoorsman, you go hunting and fishing. How did you bring that experience to this character?

Chris Pratt: I was on an elk hunt maybe eight years ago, nine years ago. I had shot an elk the first day, so my tag was filled. I'm walking around camp, I look up on the hill, I see a giant something. The sun is coming up behind this hill so I couldn't really see, but there was a silhouette of a giant beast I assumed was a monster bull elk. Now I'm looking through my binoculars like this and I don't see this animal. I can't find it. Meanwhile I'm wearing slippers and pajamas. Then I hear this [noise] and I drop my binoculars. Standing not 10 feet from me is a big mature bull moose. Moose are incredibly dangerous. They kill more people in North America than bears and wolves all combined. They're very, very dangerous animals in the wild. They're huge too. Over 1000 pounds. This thing's monstrous and I'm thinking to myself, "Oh, I'm going to die right now."

I take a step back and as I take a step back, it takes a step towards me. 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. There's steam coming out of its nose you could see because it's so cold. Finally I take one more step and instead of taking one step it takes three steps right at me. I think I nearly fainted and then it just turns off, not two feet from me, just didn't even care who I was and just walked off into the wild. So did anything in the wild ever inform me in this movie? When I'm doing that scene with the raptors, I told this story to Colin and I said, "There's something really scary about having something standing in front of you and if you step back a few inches and it comes at you a few inches." That suspense and building that up was informed a little bit by that experience that I had in the wild.

Q: But Owen Grady has great control over the raptors. How did you figure out how raptors might be trained?

CP: I did some work in terms of creating the techniques that this guy would use if this was a real character, if this was a real opening at a park. I thought, first of all, who would this guy be? When Colin first pitched me the idea, I was all over the place in terms of how I would bring it. I was like, "Oh, so he's kind of like the Crocodile Hunter? Should I do an Australian accent?" He's like, "I don't know, maybe not." He was like, "I just want this to be real." Hopefully people will give a sh*t about this relationship between a guy and his dinosaur, which is a tough thing to try to accomplish, especially when the dinosaur is a CG character. It's an animated character. It's sometimes tough to create a real relationship between a man and an animated character.

So moving forward with the idea, I did some research. I got to hang out with some pretty awesome animal trainers. There was one guy, his name is Randy Miller. He has a company called Predators in Action which is a company that trains vicious cats, bears and tigers and lions, things like that, to do simulated animal attacks in movies. So his tigers were in Gladiator and he had the bear that was in Semi-Pro. He does a bunch of commercials with pumas. 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 and that was a big part of creating, like having that clicker and the posture I adopted. All that stuff was part of the research that I did.

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Pratt and the raptors in 'Jurassic World,'Universal Studios


Q: Coming off of playing the hero in Guardians of the Galaxy, how did you make Owen Grady different?

CP: I do feel like it's a different character. A huge part of that was just Colin's vision. He would always mention to me that he had this term called "the third rail." I didn't grow up in a city with a subway, but apparently on a subway there's three rails and if you touch one it'll kill you. Essentially if I start being goofy or acting like a dipsh*t, going to my normal comedic bag of tricks, some of which I used in Guardians of the Galaxy - certainly the character of Andy Dwyer in Parks and Rec is a full embodiment of that type of clowning around and that comedic schtick that I'm known for - if I did any of that on this, that was my third rail.

This is a guy who's been through something. It goes back to who would this guy be if this were really a job opening and they needed a person to fill this position? We came together and decided the backstory is he's a guy who probably trained dolphins for the Navy and saw what type of treatment those animals received. It's always not great for the animal. We decided that the likelihood is in the years that he's been working for the park, this isn't his first set of raptors, that raptors didn't make it through some of the training. These animals died on his watch. They killed each other on his watch. Certain techniques that we tried 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'm doing for this company.

That's pretty serious. There's not a lot of room for goofing around when you play that guy, a guy who's been through combat, a combat veteran. I love Peter Quill and I love Andy. I look forward to playing Peter Quill again. It's super fun but this was something just a little different for me.

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Pratt as Quill, Marvel


Q: Could you outrun a dinosaur in high heels like Bryce Dallas Howard wore?

CP: Likely no, I could not. Although I did run yesterday in heels for the first time. I wore high heels yesterday for the first time on the James Corden show. A: I kind of liked the way it felt to walk in them. I just did. And B: I surprised myself with my ability to run. It's just kind of like tippy toe running. I would not be able to outrun Indominus Rex but with enough practice, I might be able to make it 40 or 50 feet before I was killed.

Q: Would you ever return to TV or are you going to focus more on movies now?

CP: I think the platform for entertainment is shifting so rapidly right now. Kind of my favorite stuff to watch is TV, other than this terrific show on CBS called Mom which is my very favorite show on the air. It's truly remarkable. I could go on and on about just the tones they hit emotionally, comedically and the lead actress is stunning. I would like to have a baby with her. TV is extraordinary right now.

What's neat about TV is you get really rich, an opportunity to tell really rich stories over the course of 20 hours. Film is cool because it's an hour and a half to two hours. You go on an adventure and by the end it's all cleaned up. Maybe in a franchise you have three chapters of a great story but in TV you can really get deep. You have more time to tell stories so I would definitely not rule out doing television in the future because I think it's a great medium for telling stories.

It can be also practically very nice for a family man to have nine months out of the year where you're in the city, where you're close to your home. Like I did Parks and Rec, it took me seven minutes to get to work. It's kind of amazing, and that's nine months out of the year that I would work right down the road, come home, I'd be home for dinner every night. I'd have my weekends at home. It was nice. Moviemaking you can be halfway 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.

Jurassic World opens on Friday, June 12.

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