On the one hand, Chris Pratt is a human being capable of speech—so on that front, he shouldn’t run into any hurdles as he prepares to voice Garfield in a new film adaptation of the long-running comic strip. On the other, does he really have the range to voice a lasagna-loving, Monday- hating, feline nap enthusiast?
The news broke, aptly enough, on a Monday. Emperor’s New Groove director Mark Dindal and screenwriter David Reynolds (also behind Mulan and Finding Nemo) will reunite to create a new Garfield movie adaptation with the Guardians of the Galaxy star in one of Hollywood’s strangest casting decisions in recent memory. What’s next, “Chris Pratt to Voice Mario”? Oh, wait…
Italian Americans and Nintendo fans stomped on Pratt’s Mario casting news like an errant Goomba in September, and the Garfield news already appears to have provoked similar skepticism. (Read: Mean tweets.) And for anyone who likes to stay up to date on their Hollywood Chris news and notes, it’s not hard to guess why.
In 2014, Pratt had successfully rebranded: The beloved oaf from Parks and Rec kicked off his year with a spectacular turn as another lovable dummy in The Lego Movie before solidifying his status as a bona fide movie star with Guardians of the Galaxy. The latter catalyzed a career evolution, almost certainly aided by Hollywood’s adoration for a weight-loss “success” story. The next year, Pratt debuted Jurassic World—a decent, uneven franchise extension that nonetheless devoured the box office.
But just like Jennifer Lawrence, who starred alongside Pratt in the 2016 clunker Passengers, Pratt’s journey from national sweetheart to overexposed object of frustration came swiftly. Last year, a bevy of Marvel stars found it necessary to defend the actor online—after he lost yet another round of the aforementioned Hollywood Chris power rankings. (Pratt has reliably lost these games for years.)
There’s also the fact that Pratt is apparently a member of Hillsong—an evangelical church that, as Juno star Elliot Page pointed out in 2019, also happens to be savagely anti-LGBTQ. The actor has also stepped out in a “Don’t Tread on Me” shirt. (The snake iconography originated with the Revolutionary War but is now mostly favored by right-wing and gun-rights groups.) Pratt’s social media follows, which include right-wing troll Ben Shapiro, PragerU and Turning Point USA, have also raised eyebrows.
But back to the Garfield thing: Even putting aside his questionable politics, would anyone actually be willing to argue that Pratt is a persona or personality fit for the role? Really? Name a person with bigger Odie energy than this man! (That was rhetorical—if you do think of one, please don’t email me about it.) Can Chris Pratt really do “wry” like that? Then again, maybe this is all part of the cosmic balance: Bill Murray signed on for the 2014 Garfield movie somewhat by accident—he mistook screenwriter Joel Cohen’s name for Joel Coen of the Coen brothers—so maybe this is just what happens when someone tries to fill those big orange shoes. (Er, paws.)