Photography: Sam Emerson/Courtesy Sony
Photography: Sam Emerson/Courtesy Sony

The actor behind The Magnificent Seven’s explosives expert has played comic relief and action hero, but not a western anti-hero — until now.

One of The Magnificent Seven’s marquee stars, Chris Pratt plays Josh Faraday, a gambling man who specializes in, simply put, blowing stuff up. The Washington-raised actor, now 37, began his career warming the hearts of young TV audiences in his early 20s, on Everwood and The O.C.  He was cast as lovable doofus Andy Dwyer in Parks and Recreation, and audiences of all ages started to take notice.

The last several years have seen Pratt hit a new level of fame. He led the charge in Marvel Comics’ antihero epic Guardians of the Galaxy, which picked up more than
$770 million at the box office worldwide. In 2015, Pratt topped the bill in the Jurassic Park sequel Jurassic World. At this point he’s joined an elite class of A-list stars.

Pratt’s love of westerns began to flourish several years ago during the filming of Guardians, when he watched the classic film The Westerner, starring Gary Cooper. “I couldn’t have loved it more,” Pratt says. “I loved Cooper’s style and natural acting ability.”

So when Fuqua reached out to Pratt about The Magnificent Seven, “I jumped on the opportunity, thinking that this was the movie I was meant to do,” Pratt says. “These were guys delivering justice as these heroes could only do during this time in history, and it was kind of romantic. They were living in a time that was not so structured and did what they had to do to survive.”

Photography: Sam Emerson/Courtesy Sony
Photography: Sam Emerson/Courtesy Sony

When asked about the challenge of rebooting a well-known and iconic film, Pratt stresses that the new creators and players were reverent, even if they were aiming for a fresh tone.

“It was very important to all of us to stay true to the genre,” he says. “The movie is so cool with a contemporary style. Antoine would have me listen to the music of [famed western composer] Ennio Morricone to keep me real and not get silly.

“Josh is a fun character who has done some very bad things. Denzel’s character sees this side of him and, because of this, I’m the first man to join the group.”

Pratt enjoyed working with Fuqua and Washington, but due to their previous collaborations, the director and Oscar winner were often able to communicate using no words. “I felt my job was keeping up morale while facing punishing heat and other hardships — we all worked so hard.”

From the October 2016 issue.