Welcome to TV Guide’s 12 Days of Chris-Mas, a festive celebration of famous dudes named Chris. Every day leading up to Dec. 25, we will honor a single Chris, counting down to the best Chris of the year. Today, that honor goes to Chris Pratt, the fifth best Chris.
Chris Pratt is beloved by many for his portrayal of the always-surprising Bright Abbott on The WB’s Everwood and the lovable Andy Dwyer on NBC’s Parks and Recreation, but it wasn’t until the success of 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy and 2015’s Jurassic World that he truly became Hollywood’s golden boy.
His meteoric rise was fueled by appearances in three Oscar-nominated films and a physical transformation for the role of Star-Lord that saw Pratt become so buff his future cast mate Chris Hemsworth might have actually felt a brief disturbance in the Hunk Force. It has been four years since the first Guardians film hit theaters and in the time since, Pratt’s star has only continued to rise. He’s snagged the impressive “and” credit in this year’s Avengers: Infinity War, received a shiny star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (something you actually pay for) and managed to secure MTV’s Generation Award (an honor I’m sure means something, but I cannot fathom what). To be honest, this actually says more about Pratt’s support team than it does the man himself, but Pratt’s star, it seems, is still on the up and up. And yet: despite all this, Pratt remains the most complicated and divisive of the Chrises.
When you take a deeper look at Pratt the man and not necessarily Pratt the actor, some of the shine wears off. Although he can be as funny offscreen as he is on — his recurring “What’s My Snack” videos on Instagram are almost always delightful — it’s impossible to ignore some problematic aspects of his life offscreen.
For instance, animals: In 2011, Pratt apparently tried to give his family’s aging cat away via Twitter, though he later gave an explanation (future children) and said the cat eventually found a good home. (Five years later, there was also a bizarre tabloid story about Pratt and then-wife Anna Faris’ attempt to rehome the family’s dog.)
Adding fuel to this particular fire is the fact that Pratt, an avid hunter who has often spoken about his love of hunting, currently raises lambs on his farm. The enthusiastic tone he took when speaking about “eating fresh farm-to-table lamb” in an Instagram video earlier this year — “They are the happiest lambs on the planet, they are so sweet and then one day they wake up dead and they’re in my freezer” — sparked backlash from a number of fans, and not just those who are vegetarians or vegans. The next day, Pratt posted a photo of several pieces of fresh lamb meat and even compared said lamb’s death to something as easy or trivial as “unplugging a TV.”
Beyond animals: In May 2015, perhaps in response to a controversy that sprung up in the wake of his Marvel cohorts Jeremy Renner and Chris Evans making an inappropriate joke about Scarlett Johansson‘s Black Widow character during an interview, Pratt mocked outrage culture in a Facebook post, pre-apologizing for something he’d probably eventually do.
“I want to make a heartfelt apology for whatever it is I end up accidentally saying during the forthcoming #JurassicWorld press tour,” he wrote. “I hope you understand it was never my intention to offend anyone and I am truly sorry.” The post lacks cleverness, but it’s kind of funny in hindsight: although Pratt didn’t step in it during that particular press tour, he’s since had to apologize several other times.
In April 2017, Pratt gave an interview to Men’s Fitness in which he stated there were no movies that represented his own experience. “I don’t see personal stories that necessarily resonate with me, because they’re not my stories,” he told the magazine. “I think there’s room for me to tell mine, and probably an audience that would be hungry for them. The voice of the average, blue-collar American isn’t necessarily represented in Hollywood.”
The idea that Pratt doesn’t see himself — though he may come from a working-class family and spends most of his time on a farm, he’s also a successful, straight white man at the heart of two major film franchises — as being represented in television or film is ridiculous, as is the idea that working-class America isn’t well represented in Hollywood. (There are a number of films and TV shows that depict the working-class struggle, and I’d be happy to send Pratt a list.) But the truth is, the reason Pratt’s comment enraged so many people is because it ignored the fact there are a number of communities actually struggling for better representation, communities that have been fighting for a very long time to see themselves on TV and film. Pratt later owned up to ignorance of the comment in a tweet, writing, “That was actually a pretty stupid thing to say. I’ll own that. There’s a ton of movies about blue collar America.”
Just one month after the blue collar comments, Pratt posted another video to Instagram with a caption that urged his followers to “turn up the volume” and not just “read the subtitles,” a statement some members of the hearing-impaired community found dismissive. He later offered an apology on Instagram, saying that he phrased his initial caption the way he did “so people wouldn’t scroll past the video on mute, thus watching and digesting the information in the video.” The apology, which he also gave in American Sign Language, was earnest and extensive, and it appeared as if Pratt sincerely learned from his mistakes for once.
So how do you navigate liking Chris Pratt as an actor and (usually) finding him charming on Instagram when you also know he’s kind of problematic offscreen? Well, honestly, it doesn’t have to be one or the other. Although he’s frustrating and doesn’t appear to have a filter or even think before he speaks, his candidness is also a large part of his charm. His uninhibited, spontaneous nature is what makes his Instagram such an addictive follow, and it’s also what gave us one of the greatest Parks and Rec lines, which Pratt notoriously improvised.
Taking issue with some of Pratt’s real-life remarks doesn’t mean that you can’t still find him funny as Andy Dwyer or Star-Lord. Those two things can absolutely exist in the same space. It’s actually one of the fundamental rules of understanding celebrity. And once you know that, you’re not only wiser, but you simply continue to apply that knowledge moving forward. And the way to do that here is by acknowledging that for all of Chris Pratt’s positive qualities, there are probably at least a few better Chrises out there. Four, in fact.