Horsing around with cowboys
Swinging guns, magic tricks & horse riding are just some of US actor Chris Pratt's fave moments on The Magnificent Seven set
The role of gambler-with-a-heart Josh Farraday in the new reboot of the 1960 western The Magnificent Seven, brought out Chris Pratt's inner little boy.
The 37-year-old US actor jumped at the chance to play Denzel Washington's right-hand man because embodying real-life cowboys and Indians was irresistible to him.
Directed by Antoine Fuqua and currently showing here, The Magnificent Seven revolves around seven outlaws, bounty hunters, gamblers and hired guns who are employed to protect the desperate townsfolk of Rose Creek after it comes under the deadly control of industrialist Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard).
"I'd put it out there that I wanted to do a western, and when I was able to read the story and see the vision for the movie, I got really excited," Pratt tells M at the Four Seasons hotel while attending the Toronto International Film Festival.
"The reason was to get the chance to do the horse and gun training. Getting to hang out with our horse wrangler and all of the real cowboys was an absolute treat. Getting to play with real Colt Peacemakers, .45 long Colts - shooting them, spinning them - was so much fun. We were a bunch of big kids out there."
Pratt's famously jokey personality is on full display. After all, he made his name as the schlubby funny guy on TV sitcom Parks and Recreation. Then, before you could blink an eye, he shed the weight and turned into a movie star.
Farraday is a whiz at card tricks and Pratt says he was an amateur magician as a kid and endlessly practised them.
"On this movie I trained with a magician who taught me a few sleight of hand tricks and the trick I do with the card, that was a trick I really did. It's not like something that they posted in. I practised at home and on set and in my hotel room. It was really fun."
Fuqua was an improviser on the set and required his cast to be available at a moment's notice, so the days were long and the actors - for which Pratt has a "genuine deep affection for" - bonded.
He recalls: "Vincent D'Onofrio was the unofficial captain of our movie. He helped all of us so much, not only just being a friend but also as an adviser and as an acting teacher.
"Ethan Hawke introduced me to all this great music that I hadn't ever heard before. I became a fan of Bob Dylan on this. He curated this really special Beatles album for me. We spent a lot of time smoking cigars, sitting around and talking, drinking, learning about each other, sharing things with each other that we really have never shared with other people. It was deep."
Horse riding training was another thing he enjoyed.
"I'd ridden horses growing up from time to time. I've been thrown off horses because I never really had respect for them. I kind of treated them like a car, you know, like I'd get on, I hit the gas pedal and like why aren't you going, go. I forgot it's a living being. I have a whole new understanding that they're impatient and temperamental and high maintenance and they require care and thought. There's a real connection you can have with this other being which I discovered on this movie."
When Pratt isn't busy headlining blockbusters like Guardians Of The Galaxy, Jurassic World and the upcoming Passengers, he goes bass fishing for fun - something he grew up loving.
He says with a laugh: "I'm talking thousands of hours in my life spent fishing for bass and never catching any. I don't eat bass so I'll just spend all day trying to catch one just to pick it up, look at it and put it back in the water.
"In fact, I like bass fishing way more than acting. One day I'm going to retire and I'm just going to go fishing forever."
His four-year-old son with US actress Anna Faris also goes bass fishing with dad.
"Oh, he's hooked. He's caught his first fish already. He tossed it out on his own. He reeled it in. I got a video of it. The kid's awesome. You know how dads always push their kids into stuff? I'm probably not so subtly going to want my son to be a professional bass fisherman. I'll sponsor him. Come on, kid. You don't need to go to school. We're fishing today," Pratt adds laughingly.