This week's cover: Chris Pratt goes from zero to hero in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

A lot of people think EW writers spend their days boozing it up with stars. In the case of this week’s cover profile of actor Chris Pratt, that’s 100 percent accurate. The Parks and Recreation star already has one box office hit under his belt this year thanks to The LEGO Movie, and he might well have another when the latest Marvel spectacular,Guardians of the Galaxy, arrives in theaters Aug. 1. On a break from shooting next summer’s dinosaur fourquel Jurassic World, Pratt hoisted some beers with EW’s Clark Collis in New Orleans while recounting his unlikely career trajectory.

The 35-year-old was discovered by Commando actress Rae Dawn Chong while working at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. in Hawaii. Since landing various TV gigs, he’s gained and lost a combined 300 pounds for his roles in Moneyball, Zero Dark Thirty, and The Five-Year Engagement. And he recounted his awkward meeting with Guardians director James Gunn about playing thief-turned-hero Peter Quill in the wild, space-set adventure whose other lead characters include a raccoon-like creature and a walking tree voiced, respectively, by Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel. “James said, ‘Do you have any questions?’” the actor explained. “I said, ‘Do I have any questions? Of course, I have questions! Marvel’s not going to let me read the script, I have no f—ing idea of what I’m doing, I don’t know this character, I don’t have any goddamn sides. Do I have any questions? How long do you have?’ And he was like, ‘That’s what Peter Quill would say.’”

''There's definitely similarities in Guardians to James Gunn's other movies. They just happened to give him a couple hundred million dollars versus $2 million, so he gets to make a f---ing killer movie.''

''My brother, he's always been my cheering section. After Moneyball, he was like 'Dude, you look f---ing good, don't fuck this up.' So then right after I did Moneyball I got cast in a movie called Ten Years, and I was like, 'I'm gonna get to, like, 285 pounds for this movie. I'm going to eat everything. Eat and drink my f---ing face off.''

''I had lost the weight for Moneyball and for Zero Dark Thirty all on my own, without the help of any professional people guiding me through it. And both times, as soon as I got done, I crashed hard and gained a bunch of weight back. But this time I didn't, because I did it right. I worked with a nutritionist who was like, 'Listen, you're eating 2,000, 1500 calories a day. You need to be eating 4,000 calories a day, you need to be eating 5,000 calories a day. You'll burn them all off, but you need to keep your metabolism going.' So now I can actually have a beer if I want to, or I can eat something bad if I want to, and I'm not going to immediately gain fat because I'm not starving myself. I'm just burning the fires really hot.''

''There were people I was working with on Everwood who were getting a lot of scripts, auditions, offers for movies. Outside of Everwood, I couldn't get anything. The only roles I could get were kind of the douchebag. You know, the guy in the movie that makes the hero look good—drives an Escalade, has spiky hair, gets kicked in the nuts. The kind of underwritten, douchebag bad guys. That was never something I was very good at.''

''Essentially, my role on Parks and Rec was to be written-off. It was like a one-season, one-off to bring Ann Perkins into the Parks department. I remember halfway through those first six episodes they took a break. I think they took a step back, saw what was working and what wasn't, and one the things that was working was Andy Dwyer. They came back and Andy became Andy. It was written a bit differently, there was more of him. I remember five episodes in, I said to [Parks co-creator] Mike Schur, 'I still don't know if I'm coming back.' He was like, ''buddy, we have a five-year plan for you.'''

''Playing Andy, I represented a person who sets the bar very low for themselves. But that's not ever who I was. That's who Andy is. There are elements of myself in that character—but that's not who I was.''

''Anna [Faris, my wife] gives me great advice on how to treat my leading ladies and just how to navigate all this stuff. It's nice to have a beacon in all this, someone who understands what I'm going through and what it means to have to make out with somebody that is not her. What it means to give up everything for this. She understands A.) what that means and B.) why I would do it because she's doing the same thing.''

''It took me 10 years to be ready for this. I've got a pretty good foundation of friends and family that will always keep me grounded no matter what. But I don't think I would have been ready for it 10 years ago. So I'm really happy with the way it worked out. You need to learn how to do this. You need to learn how to keep your cool, learn how to be a leader on set, learn how to act. F---, I still know I've got a ton to learn. It's all a learning experience. I'm going to school every day.''

mods cover was posted but not the pics+interview