Ticket to ride

Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence co-star in new sci-fi thriller Passengers. They speak to Susan Griffin about dance-offs and exploring the unknown.

Undated Film Still Handout from Passengers. Pictured: Chris Pratt as Jim Preston and Jennifer Lawrence as Aurora Dunn. See PA Feature FILM Pratt Lawrence. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Sony. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FILM Pratt Lawrence.
Undated Film Still Handout from Passengers. Pictured: Chris Pratt as Jim Preston and Jennifer Lawrence as Aurora Dunn. See PA Feature FILM Pratt Lawrence. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Sony. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FILM Pratt Lawrence.

Chris Pratt is literally jumping with joy at the thought of his new movie Passengers being released.

“I can’t curb my enthusiasm,” grins the suited star, as he lifts himself out of the chair and kicks his legs in the air, much to his co-star Jennifer Lawrence’s amusement.

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“I love movies. I love going to the movies,” says Minnesota-born Pratt, 37. “This is a great movie. I’m really excited for people to finally see it.

“We worked really hard over the last year making it. It was the best script I’ve ever read and I think we got it right, so I’m dying for people to go and see it.”

Kentucky-born Lawrence, 26, elegant in a floor-length floral dress, is nodding in agreement.

“I think it’s a nice escape,” she adds. “It’s a great setting. It’s a very intimate, human story on a beautiful ship, with dire consequences.”

In the sci-fi action thriller, the Hollywood stars play strangers Jim and Aurora, two people who’ve decided to leave Earth and embark on a 120-year journey to another planet to be part of a new colony called Homestead II.

Only, their hibernation pods wake them 90 years too early and, as the ship teeters on the brink of collapse, they’re forced to unravel the mystery behind the fault.

“The ship is falling apart,” Pratt explains. “Robots start to malfunction, lights flicker on and off. Ultimately, our characters find out there’s a reason why it’s malfunctioning and we’re suddenly in a desperate situation, tryingto fix a problem to save not only our own lives, but the lives of all of the other passengers on the ship.”

It appears that humanity’s on the cusp of a new era of space travel, and Pratt believes “there’s a longing to be an adventurer” in all of us. “To get out and explore and head off into uncharted territories,” says the actor, who famously transformed from plump slacker Andy Dwyer in hit TV comedy Parks And Recreation to buff action star in movies like Guardians Of The Galaxy and Jurassic World.

“I think it’s something that appeals to all people, and it has since the beginning of time. It certainly does to these two characters, they’re looking for something – and where they end up is much different to where they were expecting.”

He doesn’t want to ruin any surprises, but the father-of-one (he’s married to actress Anna Faris) cheekily adds: “It’s safe to say they find what they didn’t even know they were looking for.”

Describing Jim as ‘kind of a throwback’, Pratt adds: “He’s very much a working-class guy. He’s considered a desirable trade, as a mechanical engineer, because he’ll be helping to start a civilisation. If something breaks, he’ll be there to fix it.”

The actor is “very different” to his alter-ego, comments Lawrence, a four-time Academy Award-nominee, who endeared herself to millions when she tripped en route to collect her Best Actress Oscar for Silver Linings Playbook in 2013.

“Jim acts like he’s never really had a girlfriend, and he doesn’t really know how to behave around women; that’s charming and sweet, but it’s not like Chris at all, who’s married and funny,” 
she observes. “It was interesting to watch him go from Chris Pratt to a shy, insecure, romantic person.”

In contrast, Aurora is a New York writer on the assignment of a lifetime – to be the first person in human history to make the round trip.

“It’s such a huge decision to make,” notes Lawrence of her character’s challenge. “You have to start a brand new life on a brand new planet that you’ve never been to, and when you arrive [back on Earth], everyone you know will be dead.

“I can’t imagine saying goodbye to everybody I know and love. I understand her thirst for more, but I don’t think I could make that kind of permanent decision.”

Their spaceship, Avalon, is a character in itself, something Pratt describes as “part badass spaceship, part luxury cruise liner”, with fine-dining restaurants on board, high-end stores, sports courts, a cinema and observation deck – which all made for an interesting time on set.

“Everything was beautiful and interesting,” recalls Lawrence. “It was a different atmosphere for a movie.”

There’s also a swimming pool, which Aurora’s doing a few laps in when the ship’s gravity fails. Although no stranger to action sequences, The Hunger Games star describes the scene as “probably the hardest thing I’ve ever shot”.

“Spending that much time in a pool, water up my nose, everywhere... But it was amazing – when I saw the CG example of what it was going to look like, I was really excited. I’ve never seen anything like that in a movie,” she reveals.

There’s also a scene which sees the two of them take part in a dance-off, something Lawrence found almost as uncomfortable to shoot – but for very different reasons.

“Oh, Jen loves to dance,” Pratt teases.

“I’m doing a ballerina movie next and I was just on the phone with the director yesterday,” reveals Lawrence. “They asked, ‘How’s dance lessons going?’ I was like, ‘I can’t! I don’t know if you understand what’s happening! I don’t think you get it’.”

While Lawrence battled with showcasing her best moves on screen, Pratt didn’t share her feeling of discomfort.

Nor did he have any qualms about stripping off.

“Oh yeah, my bottom, you see it a couple times in this movie,” he admits, grinning. “I felt fine about it. I wasn’t fully naked, because they give you something to cover yourself. Come for the nudity!” he quips. “Stay for the action!”

Passengers (12a) is released on December 21.