"There were fleas and mice." How Chris Pratt went from a homeless waiter to a Hollywood star.

As of 2020, Chris Pratt is worth upwards of $40 million.

The 40-year-old, who has starred in some of the biggest franchises in the world – including the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Jurassic World franchise – is one of the biggest names in Hollywood.

But long before Pratt became the household name he is today, the American actor was living a drastically different life.

Watch: Chris Pratt opens up about working as a waiter in Los Angeles. Post continues below.

In fact, just two decades ago, the actor was a community college dropout, living in a van with a decal of Scooby Doo and Shaggy on the side.

Pratt was born in 1979 in Virginia, Minnesota, to parents Kathleen, who worked in a Safeway supermarket, and Daniel, who worked in mining. Pratt has two older siblings – brother Cully and sister Angie.

When Pratt was just seven years old, the family relocated to Lake Stevens, Washington, where Pratt later attended Lake Stevens High School.

During high school, the 40-year-old recalls telling his wrestling coach that he wanted to become “famous” in the future.

“I told him, ‘I don’t know [what I want to do in the future], but I know I’ll be famous and I know I’ll make a sh*t ton of money,'” Pratt recalled, speaking to Entertainment Weekly.

“I had no idea how. I’d done nothing proactive. It was as dumb as someone saying, ‘I’ll probably be an astronaut. I’m sure I’ll stumble into an astronaut suit and end up in space one day.'”

After high school, Pratt went on to study acting at a local community college.

But after half of the first semester, he decided to drop out after seeing an ad for a door-to-door salesman which read: “Do you like rock’n’roll music? Do you like making money? Call me!”

chris pratt
Chris Pratt and Adam Brody. Image: Getty.

"A perfect example of my lack of critical thinking," Pratt told PEOPLE.

Speaking to Conan O'Brien, Pratt shared that the job involved selling coupons.

"[It was] one of those multi-level marketing schemes where if you work really hard and make your boss a lot of money, one day you could have your own office."

At 19 years old, Pratt began working as a stripper – a gig which didn't exactly last long.

"I was always a very much naked person. I loved to always get naked. I was very free, so I thought, I may as well get paid," he told Buzzfeed in 2013.

Speaking to Ellen DeGeneres, Pratt opened up about his short-lived stripping career, sharing: "[I would make] 40 bucks a pop. I did it three times, I did bachelorette parties in my hometown, my friend's grandma had me."

As work dried up, Pratt's old friend, Zeb, invited him to come live with him in Hawaii, in a move which Pratt compared to someone "buying him a winning lottery ticket".

Once Pratt arrived, however, he learned that Zeb's "home" was in fact an old white van with a decal of Shaggy and Scooby Doo on the side.

"It was a pretty awesome place to be homeless," Pratt admitted, speaking to The Independent.

"It would be different if I lived on the streets of Chicago and ate garbage from a dumpster," he added.

"We just drank and smoked weed and worked minimal hours, 15-20 hours per week, just enough to cover gas, food and fishing supplies. You know, it was a charming time."

Although Pratt often paints an idyllic picture of his life in Hawaii, it wasn't always easy.

"We told friends we had a beach house," he told Complex


"In a way we were homeless, but at the same time we were able to transcend the difficulty of home ownership. There was no liability, no overhead. We were truly free," he added.

"But there were fleas and mice that also lived in our van. And we didn't have anywhere to go to the bathroom."

While living in Maui, Pratt worked as a waiter at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company restaurant.

One day, Pratt happened to wait on actress Rae Dawn Chong.

"I was like, 'You're in the movies, right? I always wanted to be in the movies'," he recalled, speaking to Entertainment Weekly.

"She said, 'You're cute. Do you act?' I was like, f*ck it, 'Goddamn right I act! Put me in a movie!"

As Chong was preparing for her directional debut in Los Angeles, she invited Pratt to appear in her horror comedy Cursed Part III, which was never released.

In the years that followed, Pratt resided in Los Angeles, working in a Beverly Hills restaurant until he made his big break in 2002.

"It was a terrible restaurant," he said on The Graham Norton Show.

"I was a major contributing factor to how terrible this restaurant was," he continued, adding "I'd been busted so many times eating off people's plates".

At 23 years old, Pratt landed the role of Bright Abbott on Everwood. He held the role on the WB show for four years, before being cast as Winchester 'Che' Cook in the final season of The O.C.

chris pratt
Chris Pratt in Parks and Recreation. Image: NBC.

In the years that followed, Pratt starred in a number of small roles including movie Wanted and comedy Take Me Home Tonight, where he met his now ex-wife, Anna Faris.

In 2009, Pratt was cast on Parks and Recreation as Andy, the boyfriend of Rashida Jones' character, Anne.

Although the role was initially only meant to last for five or six episodes, the actor was quick to become a regular on the show, which ran for seven seasons.

"Almost at the point of the audition we were like, 'Oh, we have to reconceive this, because this guy's the funniest person we've ever seen. We're not letting that guy go'," series co-creator Michael Schur said.

In 2009, Pratt married actress Anna Faris. The pair have a son named Jack together, who was born in August 2012.

In the years after Parks and Recreation, Pratt starred in a number of movies including The Five-Year Engagement, Her, Delivery Man, and The Lego Movie.

And in 2014, he landed his biggest role yet – Peter Quill in Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy.

At first, director James Gunn hated the idea of casting Pratt.

chris pratt
Chris Pratt in Guardians of the Galaxy. Image: IMDb.
chris pratt
Chris Pratt in Jurassic World. Image: IMDb.

"I kept saying, 'That's the chubby guy from Parks and Rec – you've got to be kidding'," he recalled, speaking to Entertainment Weekly.

"Eventually, [the casting director] somehow tricked me. He came in and I knew within 20, 30 seconds he was the guy."

Since his role in Guardians, Pratt has appeared in the Jurassic World franchise, The Magnificent Seven, Passengers, and a number of MCU films.

"I could never have fathomed that," he told The Independent.

"Before, I would have done commercials for herpes medication if you wanted me to. Gladly, just as long as I didn't have to wait tables again."

chris pratt
Anna Faris and Chris Pratt in 2017. Image: Getty.

In 2017, Pratt and Faris announced their separation after eight years of marriage, before finalising their divorce in late 2018.

"Anna and I are sad to announce we are legally separating. We tried hard for a long time, and we're really disappointed," the couple said in a statement at the time.

Three months after their divorce was finalised, Pratt began dating Katherine Schwarzenegger.

chris pratt
Katherine Schwarzenegger and Chris Pratt. Image: Getty.

After less than a year of dating, the couple announced their engagement, before getting married on June 8, 2019.

In April, multiple sources confirmed to PEOPLE that the couple are expecting their firstchild together. The couple are yet to publicly announce the news.

Feature Image: Getty.

For more on this topic:

Sign up for the "Mamamia Daily" newsletter. Get across the stories women are talking about today.