In Guardians of the Galaxy, star Chris Pratt rode his spaceship Milano from character-actor cult fame to hard-bodied movie stardom. But unlike Seth Rogen — who followed a similar trajectory from Funny People to Green Hornet — Pratt has since achieved yet another degree of fame, one previously thought to be limited to the fraught sisterhood of female celebrities and their female fans. Chris Pratt is your new celebrity BFF.
Pratt’s physical transformation and charm offensive have been carefully observed, eliciting frequent comparisons to Jennifer Lawrence. Less discussed is the candid affection he inspires among local boyfriends. Pratt is so apparently (and non-homoerotically) lovable, the gym rats of the greater Boston area were willing to go on the record about the “it guy”’s “long, lean” build and “patriotic” Zero Dark Thirty workout in the Boston Globe. But Pratt’s appeal is more than fitspo. Straight male friends and boyfriends of the Cut have an uncharacteristically sensitive read on his personality. “Chris Pratt is very funny on Parks and Rec,” said one, “but definitely smarter than the character Andy Dwyer” and “clearly down-to-earth.” “He’s so fucking charismatic,” noted another, “casually cool” without being “casually misogynist.” “He has made being earnest and sincere cool,” he gushed. “I owe him so much.” Most important, a third said, “Chris Pratt looks like he would like me back.”
This is what separates the merely likeable (or desirable) celebrity from the Celebrity BFF: The seemingly innate power to convince same-sex fans that were it not for the arbitrary administration of fame and fortune — which he doesn’t buy into either — the two of you would totally hit it off. It’s a fine balance. There’s plenty of evidence that, say, Lupita Nyong’o and Ryan Gosling are lovely people. But their superhuman perfection keeps them firmly in the realm of Imaginary Girlfriend or Imaginary Girlfriend’s Boyfriend — and fuck that guy. Less physically intimidating than Channing Tatum and less affected than Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Pratt has perfected the male variation of the BFF mold cast last year by Lawrence.
In fact, Pratt sometimes seems to be playing from Lawrence’s playbook on the Guardians press tour. Like the shot-taking, Dorito-stained starlet, Pratt defies what’s considered cool and appropriate while remaining totally ordinary. He no longer lives in the Maui stoner van, but he still gets yelled at for whipping it out on set. His secret talents are either relatably or oddly lame: knowing all the words to “Forgot About Dre” and doing a French braid. Like Lawrence, Pratt’s plainly perfect but unusually expressive face is a GIF mine.
I don’t know why everyone agrees that these are the traits that make a celebrity unassailable (“flawless,” “awesome”), but they do. Case in point: Everyone was totally sick of those ALS ice-bucket videos until Chris Pratt made one, and his boozy variation was “spectacular.”
Still, the most distinct trait Lawrence and Pratt share is transparent ambivalence about Hollywood’s beach-body industrial complex. In between anecdotes about her junk-food diet, Lawrence talks about her shaky self-image and the constant pressure to diet. Pratt, too, alternates between joking about his weight-loss roller-coaster and lamenting it. On Instagram, he attributed his Guardians body to six months without beer. “Kinda douchey to post this but my brother made me,” he added, signaling to male fans that, despite of the Marvel Universe abs, he’s still their shlubby, goofball buddy on the inside. So it’s only natural that TMZ — the news outlet most determined to treat male celebrities with the body scrutiny associated with catty or insecure women — wants to hang. “It’s hard not to love Chris Pratt,” they admitted.