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Chris Pratt on the ‘Even Bigger and Better’ ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’

In this week’s issue of Variety, we spoke to Chris Pratt, who is being honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on April 21. The ceremony takes places two weeks before his surefire blockbuster “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2” hits theaters. In that film, he reprises the role of Peter “Star-Lord” Quill, which made him a movie star.

Pratt acknowledges the first “Guardians of the Galaxy” came with the benefit of lowered expectations — the source material wasn’t as well-known as previous Marvel properties like “Captain America.” But after the first film was a critical and box office smash, the sequel is one of the most-anticipated films of the year.

“There’s certainly a pressure now that there wasn’t before,” Pratt notes. “But I think we’ll surpass expectations and still surprise them. The ideas and concepts and themes are so beautiful. We got to heighten the comedy and drama and adventure. I think it’s an even bigger and better movie than the first one.”

While plot details have been kept tight, one thing that’s known is Kurt Russell is joining the cast as Quill’s long-lost father. Pratt can barely contain his excitement over working with one of his icons. “He’s unbelievable,” Pratt enthuses. “If you’d told me I would grow up and Kurt Russell would play my dad, I wouldn’t have believed it.”

Pratt has made Quill so iconic, it’s hard to believe that writer-director James Gunn, who announced this week that he’ll be returning for a third “Guardians” installment, originally didn’t want to see him for the part. It was casting director Sara Finn who pushed him for the role. “She believed in me and kept pressuring James and also me and my manager to audition,” Pratt recalls. “I was certain I wouldn’t get it, so I didn’t even want to try.”

Pratt recalls seeing “dream lists on the internet” over who should play Star-Lord. “They’d list every actor under the sun but me,” he says with a laugh.

Pratt finally got into see Gunn, thanks to Finn. “(She) actually snuck me in and from how I understand it, he said, ‘The chubby guy from “Parks and Rec?” I thought I said I didn’t want to see him.’ And she said, ‘Well, he’s outside.'”

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” hits theaters on May 5.

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