Onward Siblings Made Chris Pratt Reflect On His Own Brother

Onward star Chris Pratt explained how the upcoming Pixar film's take on sibling bonds helped him reflect on his own dynamic with his brother.
chris pratt in onward

If there’s one aspect of Onward that stands out more than any other, it’s how peaceful the dynamic between the Lightfoot brothers is. Decades of cinema and some personal experience has conditioned viewers to expect sibling squabbles and jealousies, whether it be over romance and approval or money and power. Pixar flips the script in their latest fantasy adventure, though, and provides the most supportive brothers ever in Barley (Chris Pratt) and Ian (Tom Holland).

Onward star Chris Pratt expressed his own surprise at the unique configuration during a press conference for the Disney and Pixar production. While at first he felt that it was too good to be true, soon enough it had him re-evaluating his own sibling dynamic. Which has a mark of a good movie, after all – if it makes you want to call a family member’s legs.


Getting Past Jealousy And Heading Onward To Support

chris pratt talks onward

Pratt did his best not to spoil the movie while explaining the complex mechanics of the sibling bond, but first he praised director Dan Scanlon’s foresight in his interpretation of Barley.

One thing that I really liked[…] was a note that Dan gave me that was actually against my own instinct. But I’m very glad that we went with what he wanted to on this, which was Barley was never jealous of the fact that he didn’t have the magic gift. And I think that – I didn’t realize this until I saw the movie – was something very similar to my own relationship with my brother, in which I was the Ian. I was the younger brother.

Specifically, Pratt recalled his brother’s youthful dreams and how they became his own reality. Much like Barley’s love of Quests of Yore, which Ian must put into practice when it comes time to reunite with their father.

My brother, for instance, always wanted to be an actor. He did plays[…] And I was like, “Wow, that’s amazing. Being an actor is awesome. I want to be an actor.”

At first, a young Chris followed in his brother’s footsteps by doing plays or assemblies at school. But eventually, he chose the career path and Hollywood lifestyle for real while his brother did not. Which was a fateful event that he found strongly reflected in Onward:

There was that moment where Barley realizes that Ian has the gift. And he comes in, and my instinct was like, “Do you think Barley wishes that he had the magic gift?”

After receiving a denial from the director, Pratt revised his opinion on the potential jealousy when the final result made the truth clear.

I think this was really the heart of the film. He loves his brother so much that he’s just so proud of him that he has this gift. And when I saw that in the movie, how that was expressed, it really made me appreciate how my brother was with me. Because my whole life he’s always only and during my career only ever been super encouraging and positive about what I’ve been able to do as an actor. And I think that’s what makes this brotherhood, this relationship, so special and that’s why grown men come up to me and say, “Wow, I really was moved.”

The brotherly affection is certainly strong in Onward, and fans can see it for themselves when the film premieres on March 6. In the meantime, would you rather have all the knowledge of magic like Barley or the ability with no clue how to use it like Ian? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


Tatiana Hullender

Tatiana Hullender

Tatiana is an editor for The Illuminerdi, as well as a co-host of several podcasts. She is passionate about superheroes and space operas, as well as Jane Austen and kdramas. Visit @myrcellasear on Twitter to follow Tatiana’s articles, interviews and podcasts including: The Flash Podcast, Pop A La Carte and Ladies With Gumption. Subscribe to them on the Podcast app!