When I got the invitation to the Hawaii set of the Jurassic World sequel I had already booked a vacation... In New Zealand. Of course I couldn't say no, but the timing was such that I flew from Austin to Wellington, New Zealand, which is about a total travel time of around 20-ish hours, get to sleep for a night, and then get right back on a plane and fly halfway back home, spend a few days in Hawaii and then fly another 8 hours back to New Zealand to enjoy the rest of my vacation.
I mention this only because in that day and a half I was in New Zealand I found a bag of Doritos... a special bag of Doritos. I know, any bag of Doritos is a special bag of Doritos, but this was a limited edition Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2 Doritos flavor that was only available in the southern hemisphere. Naturally, being the thoughtful guy I was, I picked up a bag of these green chips with Chris Pratt's face on it and hauled it all the way to Hawaii to give it to Chris Pratt himself.
This interview was conducted in a tent on a dock where they were shooting a scene involving a big truck surrounded by fire racing to the water. The tent next door housed Bryce Dallas Howard. How do I know this? Well, she cameos in this interview after covertly dropping some eaves. You'll see.
Right before this interview started I delivered unto Mr. Pratt his Doritos and, as expected, he was super nice about it and thanked me for bringing them to him and said he was going to either A) Destroy the whole bag or B) Save them for posterity and eat them in 20 years, which was either going to result in his death or him getting high as fuck.
Pratt was every bit the magnetic dude you'd imagine him to be. Very laid back, but clearly super charming. You understand why he's a movie star when you meet him. The dude's funny, never put on airs and was just an overall pleasure to talk to.
As a reminder, I conducted this interview with Slashfilm's Peter Sciretta, who joined me on this trip, so don't be surprised when you see his name pop up in the below interview, which covers a lot of ground. We learn more about where Owen is at, what he's been doing in the years since the events of Jurassic World, how Pratt deals with fanboying out over the legends he works with and much more!
Enjoy the chat!
Peter Sciretta: It's been a few years since Jurassic World. What has Owen been up to?
Chris Pratt: I have an idea as to the backstory. What I know and what Bryce and I and JA have all decided on... We hint at it a little bit through the interaction between Owen and Claire, but I think he's been running away a little bit. Where we landed in terms of my backstory and our relationship is that something has broken us. We're not together. The thing that has broken us is that Claire feels as though she has to do something to make it right and Owen feels as though there's no way to make it right, so you have to move on. I think that's the thing that destroyed us.
Claire is now working for this organization and she's pouring all her energy into trying to save these dinosaurs and my character is like “let's go on a road trip. Let's forget what's happened. You keep obsessing about this.” It all came from the idea that he's a combat veteran. He's been through some stuff beforehand, so this isn't the first time he saw something really terrible happen. He's come to realize you have to sometimes accept what you've gone through and realize there's no way of changing it. That's what broke them. It's a control thing between the two of them.
So, what he's been up to is he's been
building a cabin by a lake, off the grid a little bit, probably
drinking a little bit of beer and listening to music, hanging out...
Eric Vespe: We know part of Owen's motivation for returning to the island is to help Blue. Can you talk a little bit about how Owen might be different this time around considering the experience he had last time around. Has his point of view changed at all?
Chris Pratt: Through the course of this film it will change, but it happens now, not between the two movies. He's coming to terms with his responsibility in working with the raptors and ultimately what the final intention with these things could be.
We do this cool thing... It's this video log from early on in the Raptors' lives. Owen kept a video diary tracking their progress, so we see the Raptors as hatchlings to two months old, then six months old. It's this way to look into just how mammalian they are in their intelligence levels and their cognitive reasoning skills. They exhibit behaviors of empathy. He starts to realize that they've created these things that look like raptors, but they're much more.
This movie really does open up a whole new concept for the Jurassic movies moving forward. You get an understanding that he knew a little bit more about these raptors than he'd want to let anybody know. I think he's cynical about Hoskins from the first movie, In-Gen, what their intentions are about creating animals this dangerous and this intelligent. You can assume what somebody bad would want to do with animals like that. Part of him feels as though the best case scenario is that they all die. When this island goes up in smoke it might be the right thing and maybe finally his responsibility for potentially creating a disastrous result with these animals will go away.
So, in a way he thinks it's a natural thing for the dinosaurs to go away, but what brings him there is not so much saving the dinosaurs, it's protecting Claire; his love for her. He knows she's too big-headed. He knows she's going to go. He's not going to let her go on her own, so it's his love for her that brings him back to the island. At first. Through the course he realizes there's a little bit more to his relationship with Blue. And that he's a robot. (laughs)
Eric Vespe: Yes, a learning computer. He's Arnold from Terminator 2, not Terminator 1.
Chris Pratt: Yeah, T2! (laughs)
Peter Sciretta: The last film had a couple animatronics, but this one has a lot more. What was it like meeting these dinosaurs? I mean, I touched Blue and I almost cried.
Chris Pratt: I know! It's really great. Because of the scenarios contrived in this film we have these passive dinosaurs. When you see the movie you'll see why they're not always running or jumping or leaping or doing things that animatronics aren't good at. They're sitting still. We did that in the first film with the Apatosaurus as it was dying in our arms. That was a real animatronic and it was amazing to hold this thing that felt living and breathing, its eyes were opening and closing. As many advancements in CGI that they've made since '93 when the first film came out they've also made some serious advancements in animatronics. These things are really very, very lifelike.
Because of these situations we have a T-Rex and a Raptor that are full animatronic puppets. You got a dozen guys operating them and it's really cool. It's much easier as an actor to have something to react to. It's been great. Blue is awesome.
Eric Vespe: How cool is the Rex? We've only heard about that build. We weren't able to see her in person.
Chris Pratt: There's an awesome moment where Claire essentially rides this passed out, drugged T-Rex, which wakes up and I have to dive through its jaws. It's a really crazy sequence...
(From next door, through the thin tent flap) Bryce Dallas Howard: SPOILER!
Chris Pratt: Hey, I read the talking points. It said I could talk about it!
(Still from the tent next door) Bryce Dallas Howard: Even the T-Rex?!?
Chris Pratt: It what it says right here! (to us) Of course, Bryce is over there listening.
Bryce Dallas Howard: (laughs) And I wouldn't call us broken, Chris!
Chris Pratt: You've got to read the talking points.
Peter Sciretta: Bryce was talking about how JA will play music between takes and sometimes during takes. You're used to that. James Gunn does that on the Guardians films. How is it different here with this movie?
Chris Pratt: It's a great tool. I love it, I'm in full support of playing music through a take, even if it comes at the expense of the dialogue. Having a rhythm that's resonating through each person caught on screen is very, very helpful. You can forget that it's mid-third act and we are running for our lives. You're making this million piece puzzle and you may spend all day shooting something that takes 5 seconds. You get bored, you're sitting there annnnd action! Cut! You forget you're supposed to be breathing heavily. You forget when it's linked together it gets very manic and suspenseful. The music really helps with that.
(JA) uses that a lot and he uses it for jump scares. He has this whole playlist that's always wired in, including a T-Rex roaring. From time to time he'll play it and we'll all react to it naturally because we don't know it's coming. He loves to manipulate us in that way, which is really helpful as an actor. He'll scare us out of nowhere or do something unexpected.
Eric Vespe: Like play a fart sound?
Chris Pratt: (Laughs) Not yet. We're almost done, but he hasn't done that quite yet. But I like that. It's a good tool to use to get people excited or scared or give a sense of wonderment. Especially when he plays the John Williams score. (hums the main theme) Oh my God! It allows you to do nothing because in this film we are actors and we contribute so much, of course, but there are characters we don't even see because they're going to be animated, but they're going to need to have their moment or the score will need to have its moment. It's a big collaboration and sometimes you need to sit back and let the music take center stage. When you play that music it reminds you “Oh, I don't need to try to upstage this with acting or faces or anything. I don't have to do anything here, just let the music guide me and the audience to what we're supposed to be feeling.”
There's some great stuff, like when we're flying to the island for the first time and we're looking out the window and he's playing this music and it puts you in the scene, like you're an audience member. It's really cool. I like it a lot.
Eric Vespe: JA was telling us that there's a heavy focus on suspense in this film. There was a little bit of that in the first Jurassic World, but it was more focused on the spectacle of the new park and the disaster movie aspect of things going wrong. Hearing that this one was going rely more on suspense did that make you more excited to do this? I can imagine the worst thing for you to do is read the script and think “We just did this.”
Chris Pratt: It was really exciting to understand we were doing something really different. I was thrilled when I got the script. I think people have high expectations for sequels. I think with this one those expectations will be met, if not surpassed. It does something different. It opens up a new chapter. It's called Fallen Kingdom. The Kingdom of this movie is people stuck on an island with dinosaurs freaking out and killing everyone. That is falling and we're moving onto something else.
The first one was a disaster film. Shifting the tone over to suspense is really nice because I think with suspense you can do a lot with very little. You don't see Jaws for a good 2/3rds of the movie. You know he's there, there's music, you see the evidence of it... Not to say we're doing exactly that. I don't think that necessarily works as much anymore. I was just watching Jaws the other day with my son and he's like “Where's the shark?”
Eric Vespe: And you're like “Disowned!”
Chris Pratt: Yeah, disowned! Get the fuck outta here! He's four and during the third act battle I was like “I'll show you the shark, get in here!” He was like “Aaaaaaaaahhh” and I was like (sternly) “You'll sit and watch! You earn this!”
Peter Sciretta: What's it like working opposite Jeff Goldblum?
Chris Pratt: Man, he's amazing. A huge
part of the success of Jurassic World was the success of Jurassic
Park. It all started in '93 with them and with him. I know that we
had the blessing of Steven Spielberg and Universal and fans, but it's
nice that he signs up to do this movie because in a way it's giving
it his blessing. That was really cool. He's a terrific actor and
maybe the kindest actor out there. He's really cool and smart and
funny and interesting. It's really awesome to have him in this movie.
Peter Sciretta: He has such a unique rhythm in how he plays things. He's different from everybody else. I feel like if I was in a scene with him I'd just become the kid that saw Jurassic Park and I'd be watching him instead of being in the scene.
Chris Pratt: I feel like if I answer that I'll be giving away too much, but you do have to get it out of the way when you work with someone like Jeff Goldblum or I just did Guardians with Kurt Russell... You work with these people who are icons... It's a two step process. First, you have to be authentic and let them know just how crazy about them that you are. You make that really short and brief. You get that out of the way so you're not a liar or the guy that doesn't acknowledge them. You pay your respects.
After that you immediately move to step B which is you become a peer and a collaborator or else you lose their respect. If every time you see them you go “Dude, this is so crazy!” you might not be the right guy for this job. Even when you're feeling that the third, fourth, fifth, sixth day you work together you kind of have to bury that and get right to the work.
It's a strange thing being famous. I'm certainly not an icon like a Kurt Russell or a Jeff Goldblum. They are icons and maybe one day I will be, but if their journey is similar at all to mine you don't really feel that way about yourself, so if people feel that way about you it's kind of an uncomfortable situation that you politely and patiently wait for to be over so you can get back to being normal again. So you get through that stuff. You go “Oh my God, I love you! I can't believe we're working together!” and then you get to work.
Peter Sciretta: All the great Michael Crichton stories had a little something on their mind. They weren't just adventure plots. They always had some kind of commentary. What do you think is on this movie's mind?
Chris Pratt: (Pauses) It feels relevant to now and I think part of that has to do with technology, which is not necessarily something that doesn't serve the greater good, but is valuable. Maybe we put aside moral dilemmas because you can make money. It has a little to do with greed. That's a theme that resonated in the first movie as well and continues to resonate in this series. It's a cautionary tale against greed and over-ambition and a lack of respect for the natural order and confidence in our ability to control that which we can't control.
Eric Vespe: Which is Dr. Malcolm's stance in that first movie, so it makes sense that he's back in play here.
Chris Pratt: Yeah, that's right.
Peter Sciretta: Who are the real monsters: the humans or the dinosaurs?
Chris Pratt: That's a good question! (laughs)
So that's the interview! Still got a couple more, with the two new faces in the group Justice Smith and Daniella Pineda, coming up plus my detailed set report where I tour the island, see some dead dinos and also some very much alive (read: amazing animatronic) dinos and so much more!