Chris Pratt is the first to admit he had a complicated relationship with his father.
While Chris was filming Universal Pictures’ Jurassic World in June 2014, Dan Pratt—who had been ill with multiple sclerosis for many years—passed away. Rather than take time off to grieve his father’s death, Chris decided to continue working on the blockbuster. In fact, it wasn’t until he began filming Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2—in which Pratt’s Star-Lord searches the galaxy for his long-lost father—that the 37-year-old actor came to terms with his father’s death.
“The truth is I ripped open some wounds that had been healing for some time,” Chris confesses in the January issue of British GQ (out Dec. 5). “And I didn’t want to. But I knew it was right for the moment…There are wounds that are never going to be totally healed. It would probably make for a better story if it was some emotional thing that I hadn’t dealt with…When we face the death of a parent, you sometimes feel regret that you didn’t fully embrace what you had.”
Chris previously discussed Dan’s death in 2015. “I knew, being the lead in the movie, that I was really responsible for everybody’s attitude,” the actor told the American edition of GQ. “So I compartmentalized it all and dealt with it in my own way, but not openly for people to see.”
At the time, Dan’s death weighed heavily on Chris.
The actor described Dan as “an old school kind of dad,” which was “actually a good thing” in retrospect. But, according to Chris, his father’s tough demeanor weakened after his diagnosis. “He was pretty ornery to begin with and so that just made him more ornery,” he shared. “He had lost interest in life: ‘Well, I’ve got this disease now. I’m gonna die.’ He refused to take any medication or do anything like physical therapy.” Instead, Chris said, Dan mostly watched TV.
Dan eventually split with his wife and moved into assisted living. “When he lost his ability to walk he gave up on life,” Chris said of his dad, a contractor who was respected for being a “hard worker” and a “good problem solver” back in the day. “Men of his ilk are defined by their ability to provide physically for their family, and when that’s taken away, that was a joke to him.”
As Chris found success on the big and small screens, Dan watched him from afar. “In his own way he let me know that he was proud of me,” the actor recalled. “He didn’t really react in any way, one way or another, but he was definitely proud. If I was on TV, he watched everything I was in. So, it felt like I was able to communicate with him through doing work that was on TV.”
After Dan’s passing, Chris felt grief—and relief. “I can go spend time with my sister or my mom and not have this nagging feeling, like we’ve betrayed dad and we’re not there at his bedside when he never f–king wanted us there anyway,” he said. “I think he did but he was too proud to show any appreciation if you went to visit him, you know. It was a sad, f–ked-up situation.”
But in many ways, Chris will always be his father’s son.
Before he made it big in Hollywood, Chris worked hard and asked for very little. “Life was a series of choices based on the price backwards on the menu, when you didn’t look at, ‘Ooh, what do I want.’ You look at the lowest number—that’s what you’re going to get. The difference between a large soda and a small soda was the 49 cents, and you didn’t spend the 49 cents,” Chris tells British GQ. “I heard someone say to me if it’s a problem that can be solved by money, it’s not a real problem. And I thought, ‘What kind of f–king a–hole would come up with that?'”
After finding success on TV (Parks and Recreation) and booking a handful of supporting movie roles (Bride Wars, Moneyball, What’s Your Number?), he was poised for a breakout moment.
A few years before Dan’s death, Chris landed an audition with Guardians of the Galaxy’s James Gunn. “Within a minute he knew it was me and I knew it was me. And then he just said, ‘Any questions?’ I was like, ‘How much f–king time do you have?'” the actor recalls. “Like, ‘Yeah, tell me everything. Tell me the script scene by scene, starting now, to the end, because you f–king people won’t let me read it. So, yeah, I have questions. I have nothing but f–king questions.”