Best known as the lovably dim Andy Dwyer on NBC’s Parks and Recreation, it was the lead role in Guardians of the Galaxy that turned Chris Pratt into a full-blown superstar. Aside from his transformation from goofy sidekick to charismatic leading man, Pratt underwent a headline-making physical transformation to lead the rag-tag team of space misfits as Peter Quill.
“For me it felt like a perfect fit right off the bat. I felt like at my very first audition that I nailed it, but, I was afraid that I wasn’t physically right for it because I was still pretty big,” Pratt admitted to The Huffington Post. “I mean, I knew he had my spirit—I knew that my spirit was right. And I knew it sounded right, I just didn’t look right yet.”
And director James Gunn at the time sort of agreed, admitting, “I didn’t even want to see Chris at first. He was overweight at the time, and he seemed like a comedy guy, and he didn’t think he was the right person for the role. But he came in, and he was doing his audition, and 20 seconds into his audition I’m like, ‘That’s the guy.'”
Still, Pratt went on to lose 60 pounds in six months, hilariously documenting the journey on Instagram (“Six months no beer. #GOTG Kinda douchy to post this but my brother made me” was the caption for one shirtless gym pic) and eventually landing endless magazine covers and headlines touting his impressive new bod.
“He’s a hilariously frumpy, doofy guy in Parks and Rec, and he’s an incredibly kickass ripped guy in Zero Dark Thirty and that’s pretty awesome,” Feige said after the unexpected casting news was officially announced. “He’s going to need that in Guardians. That’s a big range right there.”
Little did Pratt know back in the audition process that the Marvel team was looking way down the line, with Feige revealing, “We always cast for the movie we’re making, but we also have an eye on the future. So when we were casting Chris Pratt, we needed the best Star-Lord, but at the same time, we said, ‘We need somebody who one day might go toe to toe with Robert Downey Jr.'” (Which they did in Infinity War.)
While it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Pratt and his effortless charm and swagger playing Peter, Marvel had considered Eddie Redmayne, Joel Edgerton, Jack Huston, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Lee Pace for the role, with Pace ending up taking on the role of villain Ronan the Accuser. But the No. 1 contender after Pratt seemed to be an It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia star: Glenn Howerton.