“The star of the ‘Jurassic World’ and ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ franchises is open about his Christian faith.” Christian Toto
“Last year, Mr. Pratt told the crowd at the Teen Choice Awards, ‘I love God. That’s my thing: I love him. And you should too.’” Ibid
Christian Toto, The Washington Times, February 4, 2019, p. 18
The current outrage culture, particularly in Hollywood, means actors should think twice before opining on politics or religion.
Don’t tell that to Chris Pratt. The star of the “Jurassic World” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchises is open about his Christian beliefs.
Rather than heaping scorn, media and public relations mavens suggest that how Mr. Pratt shares his faith burnishes his A-list bona fides. That’s assuming he retains the warm, upbeat tone he has used until now.
Last year, Mr. Pratt told the crowd at the Teen Choice Awards: “I love God. That’s my thing: I love him. And you should too.”
That came weeks after he told an MTV Movie & TV Awards show gathering, “You have a soul. Be careful with it,” amid silly jokes about bodily functions.
More recently, Mr. Pratt shared via Instagram that he had embarked on a 21-day “Daniel fast,” a diet featuring seed-based food and plenty of prayer.
He even turned his engagement to Katherine Schwarzenegger, daughter of action superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger and Kennedy family scion Maria Shriver, into a declaration of faith.
“Sweet Katherine, so happy you said yes! I’m thrilled to be marrying you,” he said on social media. “Proud to live boldly in faith with you. Here we go!”
Actors like Mr. Pratt should be “true to themselves,” said Phil Lobel, owner and founder of Lobeline Communications, a Los Angeles-based public relations firm. “So long as he practices what he preaches, with regards to inclusiveness and ‘love thy neighbor,’ I feel it can bring him respect.”
It helps that the actor “speaks from the heart,” Mr. Lobel said. That authenticity means audiences and fans alike grasp the seriousness of his approach.
However, that type of persona didn’t shield former NFL quarterback and current New York Mets minor leaguer Tim Tebow from media brickbats for his overtly Christian messaging early in his professional career.
Producer/director Spencer T. Folmar applauds how Mr. Pratt injects levity into what he calls the star’s “sermons” as a way to broaden their appeal and connect with young viewers.
“He’s an entertainer, and he understands his role in society,” Mr. Folmar said. “Even great preachers of old used a lot of comedy. … That can help audiences digest some hard truths.
“Chris is a great representative of the faith,” added Mr. Folmar, whose most recent film, “Generational Sins,” brought a gritty realism to the faith-based film genre.
Mr. Pratt hasn’t signed on for any overtly spiritual films, Mr. Folmar said, but the actor’s faith journey in Hollywood is rare and remarkable.
That doesn’t mean the star will receive unanimous praise from the culture at large.
“There’s definitely a risk,” he said. “I’m still kind of amazed that he’s been so accepted in his faith proclamations.”
Mr. Pratt’s other proclamations have proved more divisive.
A TV Guide op-ed last month with the headline “How to Love Chris Pratt Without Hating Yourself” targeted the star for being a proud hunter and mocking outrage culture. A few news sites also attempted to smear him via his ties to Hillsong Church.
Mr. Pratt — like Justin Bieber, Nick Jonas, Selena Gomez and other high-profile Christians — belongs to the Australian-based church with many stateside locations. The reports claim the church is “anti-gay” for not allowing homosexuals in positions of power behind the scenes.
NBC News entertainment writer Ethan Sacks credits the star’s “likable quality” for protecting him from more naysayers.
“He’s almost uniformly liked across the political divide,” said Mr. Sacks, who worked two charity screenings with Mr. Pratt in recent years. “He’s not somebody who is capable of the fire and brimstone, the kind of language that might alienate somebody of that same level of faith. It’s very personal.
“He thanks God. He doesn’t proselytize. ‘This is me,’” Mr. Sacks said. “How could you be offended by that? He’s not forcing it down anyone’s throat. He’s not talking down to anyone.
“His faith,” he said, “will be appreciated by more people than it alienates.”
Mr. Sacks notes the actor’s willingness to share his hunting habits with his fans, though that may be more concerning in the current climate.
“He believes in responsible gun ownership,” said Mr. Sacks, a former film editor for New York Daily News. “On an issue like that, no matter what you say … you’re alienating one side.”
Mr. Lobel said Mr. Pratt’s faith-friendly persona could have a ripple effect in his industry, which is known for its secular standing.
“If the public is receptive to his message and others see no downside, and they, too, offer inclusiveness in their messages of faith, then, yes, I believe others will feel comfortable in their path to openly espousing their feelings of spirituality,” Mr. Lobel said.