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'Mario' and 'Guardians' star Chris Pratt almost gave up on Marvel after bad auditions

The star of The Super Mario Bros. Movie and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 reflects on roles that got away.

By Matthew Jackson
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Chris Pratt's career feels like it's going about as well as it possibly could right now. He wrapped up the Jurassic World trilogy last year, he's wrapping up the Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy this year, and The Super Mario Bros. Movie just crossed the one billion dollar mark at the worldwide box office. It's a pretty good moment for the blockbuster star, but there was a time when Pratt was ready to give up on trying to land big roles, including those at Marvel. 

On Jimmy Kimmel Live! last week, Pratt reflected on his career before Guardians of the Galaxy shot him to superstardom. Before that film landed in 2015, Pratt was best known for television roles on shows like Everwood and Parks and Recreation, with a few notable film roles in projects like Moneyball and Zero Dark Thirty. When his Guardians casting was announced, it was seen by many as a somewhat surprising choice, but behind-the-scenes, Pratt knew it was the culmination of a longer journey that included some auditions that...didn't go so well. 

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"I auditioned for them all. I had a rough run with Marvel,” Pratt said. “I auditioned for Thor, but not even to be Thor — but to be one of the sidekick guys, and I didn’t get a callback. Usually, they give you a little bit of feedback, and I remember the casting director goes, ‘Wow. You really made a big choice there.’ Which is code for like: ‘Hey, dial back the acting there, guy.’”

With Pratt's quest to be a member of Thor's Warriors Three denied, he considered just dropping the idea of an MCU role altogether, until Guardians came along.

 “It got to the point where I was never gonna audition for Marvel again. I was like, ‘This is stupid; I’m never gonna be in a Marvel movie,'" he recalled. 

RELATED: 'The Super Mario Bros. Movie' levels up as first 2023 film to make more than $1 billion at the box office

But as Pratt revealed to Kimmel, like many young actors of the 2000s and 2010s, he wasn't just trying out for superhero parts. There were other major genre tentpoles that also told him no. 

“And it was not only just Marvel things, but there have been a lot of heroic characters in various films… Not DC characters, but like, you know, Star Trek or Avatar,” Pratt told Kimmel. “Anything that was like, ‘This guy walks in and he’s got the it-factor.’ Over and over again, I was like, ‘Well, I definitely don’t have that it-factor they’re looking for because they don’t even want me to come back.’”

Of course, these days Pratt has two different live-action tentpoles under his belt, along with Mario, the new animated hit that's sure to spawn a franchise, and plenty of other work besides. So don't give up, kids, because the next audition could be the one that breaks it wide open.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 opens Friday. The Super Mario Bros. Movie is in theaters now, get tickets here