When Chris Pratt graduated high school in 1997, he had no clear direction in life, and dropped out of college after jus one semester. After earning money through various jobs, including working as a male stripper, a 19-year-old Chris accepted a friend’s invite to join him in Maui, Hawaii, where they lived in a van and tent by the beach.
In 2000, the Guardians of the Galaxy star was waiting tables at a local Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurant, where he recognized actress Rae Dawn Chong (The Color Purple, Commando). “I was on a retreat in Maui with a friend,” Rae Dawn tells Star exclusively. “Chris came over and pitched himself to me, claiming he was an actor, too. As it turns out, we were casting a movie I was going to direct in L.A>, and I needed someone to star as the ‘hunk’ in my film.”
She arranged a read-through for the following week. “Chris showed up early and was totally prepared,” she recalls. “He was funny, quick, bighearted and gorgeous, and he blew everyone away!” From there, the actor flew out to L.A. for his first-ever professional acting job.
By 2002, Chris booked a role on the WB’s long-running Everwood, and has since appeared on The O.C. and Parks and Recreation. Now, he’s poised on the brink of superstardom as the lead in Marvel Comics’ Guardians of the Galaxy, as well as an upcoming sequel to Jurassic Park. But it all might have been a dust in the wind if Rae Dawn hadn’t opened that first door for him.
“It’s a trip to be watching a film, and suddenly he appears and he’s so good; I’ll actually get teary at times,” Rae Dawn raves. “I’m like a mama bear, so proud of him, the cub. He is amazing and so sweet and so good. He’s a shiny soul — and I’m so lucky to have met him.”