How Chris Pratt Got Into “Jurassic Assault” Shape for His Latest Summer Blockbuster
The 42-year-old leading man stayed (largely) injury-free throughout three movies and six years of shoots. We have his secrets.
Stepping into the Jurassic Park franchise was a dream come true for Chris Pratt. He was 13 when the 1993 blockbuster starring Sam Neil, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum first hit theaters, and decades later, when the opportunity came to revitalize the universe, Pratt jumped at the chance — literally. Pratt leapt headfirst into the stunts for 2015’s Jurassic World, which, alongside his role in the Marvel Universe, quickly cemented his position as a true action hero.
“Chris was truly dedicated to the process and it helped that we’d just worked together to get him into leading man form for Guardians of the Galaxy,” says British trainer Simon Waterson, who helped Pratt stay fit through all three Jurassic World projects. Plenty changed over the course of making the record-breaking trilogy; the productions got bigger and the actor’s schedule got busier. But what never wavered was Pratt’s desire to make the most of his dream gig, riding around on motorcycles and facing off against huge animatronic prehistoric predators.
With a little luck, and the watchful eye of Waterson, Pratt never injured himself so badly that he couldn’t get back in the saddle. (Though that’s not to say there weren’t some close calls.)
Pratt first started working with Waterson when he traveled to London to film Guardian of the Galaxy. He credits him as one of the key people that helped him get into shape to play Starlord. The transformation went viral when the former sitcom actor posted a photo during production showing he’d lost roughly 60 pounds and acquired a set of abs. Since they already had a working relationship, no introductions were required on the set of Jurassic World; they were able to get straight into building the physique of dino-tamer Owen Grady.
“Chris didn’t need to be absolutely shredded to play Owen,” says Waterson. “The character’s former military so he has those skill sets, but when we meet him he’s more ‘farm fit,’ and his body reflects spending all day outside with animals.” As a military man himself (Waterson served in the 845 Naval Air Squadron), the trainer used that experience for the foundation of their training sessions. From there, Waterson built a program designed for the epic action sequences that each movie required.
The process began with a candid conversation between trainer and trainee, where Pratt updated Waterson on his latest physical status. “The first step with any transformation is an honest assessment of where someone is and where they want to go,” says Waterson. “Depending on what project Chris was coming off of, his body would be in a different place and we would adjust the base program accordingly to get him back to Grady.”
In order to build and maintain muscle mass for the character, Pratt did strength workouts with Waterson in his gym fully outfitted with Keiser machines. Their regular weight training sessions would assure that the actor kept his leading man frame, while remaining explosive. The next step was to build both agility, and an ability to move in multi-directional patterns quickly. So much of the Jurassic World franchise involves either chasing the bad guys or being chased by dinosaurs, which meant he had to be quick on his feet.
“There was a track that we would work at where I would set up a number of agility drills based on the sequences in the movie,” says Waterson. On what he calls a “Jurassic assault course,” the trainer would set up cones, boxes, and mats that Pratt would practice the movements from the action scenes. “I wanted him to be as comfortable as possible going from linear to lateral directionally, and transitioning into rolls or jumps.”
So that Pratt didn’t have to miss workouts when he didn’t have scenes to shoot, Waterson installed a mini-gym in the actor’s off-set living quarter. There the actor had use of a Peloton, a rowing machine, weights, bands, Bosu ball, and a bench. “Since there are so many motorcycle scenes with Grady I wanted him to be comfortable on the bike and also improve his balance,” Waterson says. “That’s where the Bosu ball came in handy. He spent a lot of time using it.”
Pratt wasn’t a regular motorcycle rider before he took on the role in Jurassic World. But as viewers of the movies know, it’s Owen Grady’s favorite mode of transportation and one that he usually utilizes often to save his friends and escape dinosaur attacks. His inexperience didn’t prevent Pratt from participating in as many of the biking scenes as possible, and on a few occasions he paid the price for it. On the first movie he was thrown over the handlebars and sent flying into the muddy set, injuring his back.
The fact that Pratt was putting this body through unusual strains and pains meant that a comprehensive recovery protocol was mandatory. On set he worked with a rehab specialist, and when in-person appointments weren’t possible he had a few tools of the trade at his rental, like Normatec boots and a Hypervolt. “I would have him put on the boots after a particularly intense day to help reduce his soreness and aid the recovery,” says Waterson.
There was another incident on the second movie, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, when Pratt was doing a stunt that involved him tucking and rolling out of a vehicle transporting a Tyrannosaurus Rex. The actor pulled the movement perfectly several times, but on the last run his pads shifted and he bashed his knees and elbow against the metal surface. “The sound was horrible, and it wasn’t long before these big black bruises were showing up,” says Waterson. “Chris walked it off like a champ though.”
Those injuries were treated as best they could be with compression, ice and rest when possible. During press for the first movie Pratt credited “ice and ibuprofen” with getting him through the arduous shoot. Waterson also encouraged cold water therapy to help reduce the inflammation and boost the actor’s immune system. “If nothing else, I would have him end his showers with about three minutes of cold water for those benefits.”
Given that the Jurassic World movie shoots took the better part of a year to complete, it was a tough ask for Pratt to stick to a leading man diet the whole time. On a few occasions the actor documented his meal plan missteps on his social media during Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom in a hilarious segment he called “What’s My Snack?” Fun aside, the eating plan was prepared by a chef on set and designed to give him all the energy he required to pull off his long shoot days.
“Chris is a tall guy with a lot of muscle tissue and a high metabolism,” says Waterson. The eating plan was fairly basic, with a goal that every meal would comprise 40% carbs, 40% quality protein, and 20% good fats. “Once that box was checked as far as macros, we would adjust the number of calories in each meal depending on how much energy he was exerting that day.” For example, if it was a high-intensity day with a lot of stunts, Waterson would add 500-1,000 calories. There was also a focus on the quality of the foods Pratt was eating. That meant avoiding things like starchy carbs and refined sugars. Perhaps that’s why the actor was so excited about muffins.
Despite the injuries and calorie restrictions, Pratt has shared that he feels melancholy about his Jurassic World journey coming to an end. “You put that much time, energy, effort into something, and you know it’s coming to a close,” Pratt told the Associated Press. “[I was] blessed beyond all belief to be a part of this thing, and it’s sad.” That being said, the actor feels good with Dominion being the last showing for Owen Grady and the Jurassic Park franchise.
“This is a massive movie with amazing action sequences, more dinosaurs than ever, lots of heart, humor, and innovative technology,” says Pratt. “We have spared no expense.”
This article was featured in the InsideHook newsletter. Sign up now.
Suggested for you