Chris Pratt Says ‘The Terminal List’ Role Is ‘Unlike Any Character I’ve Ever Played’
Hold on tight. In the opening minutes of the new Amazon action drama The Terminal List, Navy SEALs leader James Reece (Chris Pratt) sees his entire platoon get ambushed and wiped out during a top-secret mission…or so he thinks. It turns out Reece’s memories from the event are heavily compromised in this eight-parter based on the bestselling thriller of the same name by Jack Carr. “James is trying to piece everything together,” says Pratt of the absorbing psychological thriller. “He’s always trusted his instincts, but now he’s hanging on by a thread.”
The Jurassic World: Dominion star (he can also be seen in Thor: Love and Thunder, opening July 8 in theaters) shared more about the Terminal List role and how he wanted to be sure to portray life in the military accurately alongside co-stars Taylor Kitsch, Constance Wu, Riley Keough, LaMonica Garrett, and Jeanne Tripplehorn. Here’s what else he had to say.
You nabbed the book rights to make this series…what was it about James Reece that had you wanting to play him?
Chris Pratt: James Reece is unlike any character I’ve ever played. I saw it as an opportunity to surprise people.
How did real life vets play a part in making the series — either in the story or the depiction of the effects of war?
Jack Carr, who wrote the books, is a former Navy SEAL with several deployments under his belt. Also, Jared Shaw, another former Team Guy, is an integral part of this project – he is an actor (he plays Boozer in the series) and is a producer as well one of our military advisors. He is the one who initially brought me the book.
I shadowed Jared when I was training to be a Navy SEAL on Zero Dark Thirty in 2011. We met at The BUDS training facility in Coronado and became fast friends. He was in my wedding. About five years ago he introduced me to The Terminal List book. I loved it and secured the rights. Obviously, I’ve been a vocal supporter of our men and women in uniform for years. Ultimately this show was made to honor that community.
During production, we had several veterans both in front of and behind the camera. From costumes and props to acting, producing, writing, tech advising, and more. Having real special operator input on set in terms of the specifics of the military tactics was crucial.
The danger level gets amped up pretty quickly in the show. How was keeping that intensity up for yourself throughout the series? It rarely lets up!
You’re right! There are some pretty great action sequences as well as an element of psychological thriller that makes the series unique and unrelenting. It was a grind. I produced as well as acted and I’m in damn near every frame so it was busy. We had the best operators helping guide that action to mirror the authenticity of the book in the series.
We made sure each episode passed the “sniff test” with our trifecta of special operators, Jack, Jared, and Ray (Mendoza) another former SEAL and our military adviser- as well as Max Adams, our writer, who was a Ranger. Our mantra was: no Hollywood bullshit. Make it real. But ultimately what was the most important is that Reece’s actions be motivated by a real emotional through-line, that this connection between James Reece and his wife (Riley Keough), his daughter, and his men resonate through the entire series.
Trust obviously is a big part of what Reece goes through. Can he trust his own instincts and/or trust those closest to him?
That’s what is so interesting about the story, James is a guy that has been through incredible trauma and he’s trying to piece together everything that happened on the mission. He’s always trusted his instincts but he’s hanging on by a thread and beginning to question himself. The Terminal List is a true psychological thriller – I can’t wait for audiences to finally see it.
Given everything that Reece has lost in the opening of the show, should the viewer trust his mental state especially since we see his spotty memory, visions, and his headaches?
The journey of the unreliable narrator makes for a fantastic psychological thriller. Are we witnessing the excellent tradecraft of a skilled operator who is actually being hunted by a clandestine enemy or has Reece just lost his mind? Our comps for making the project were Hitchcock, Memento, and Jacob’s Ladder as much as the classic revenge films like Taken or military movies like Zero Dark Thirty.
You’ve already done a lot of physical work in Guardians and Jurassic but was there any new training for you here given the military backdrop?
Well, for this there was realizing that a lot of these SEALs, the thing that binds them all is a grit, a mindset, an ability to endure incredible suffering, as well as their peak physical and mental ability. I bulked up a bit to play Reece and worked on tiny nuanced things for the military side. I’m sure somebody somewhere will pick out something that doesn’t look quite right. But honestly, we tried like hell to get it right. It was important to us.
The Terminal List, Series Premiere, Friday, July 1, Prime Video