If you’re a fan of Saturday Night Live you might have seen a fun opening monologue earlier this month in which Chris Pine attempted to settle the “Hollywood Chris” debate once and for all. For those who aren’t familiar, this so-called debate refers to the idea that people can’t tell apart the several prolific and beloved actors named Chris who are currently thriving in the movie business. If you’re an entertainment fanatic, movie lover, or celebrity follower, this probably seems silly. The truth is that Chrises Hemsworth, Evans, Pine, and Pratt can be pretty tricky to tell apart by a lot of people.
We’re not here to tell you how to do that. If you watch their movies and get to know them, you’ll be able to tell who’s who at a glance. But isn’t the real way to settle the “Hollywood Chris” issue to try to figure out which of the four has had the most impressive career? There’s no definitive answer there either, but let’s dig into it a little.
You can’t really pick a biggest star in the Hollywood Chris debate—that’s the point. But if you had to pick one Chris who has the greatest star power it’s hard to avoid looking at Hemsworth. He’s simply the least human of the bunch, in a way that seems to elevate him to a different tier of pure celebrity status. He looks better in flowing golden locks than anyone since Brad Pitt in Troy, and he might have Hollywood’s best smile since Heath Ledger. Also like Ledger, his hailing from Australia gives him a pleasantly detached air—like he never really asked for stardom, but he’ll take it.
As for his actual work, Hemsworth has taken on a diverse range of projects. These include the stirring sports drama (and true story) Rush, cybercrime thriller Blackhat, and the goofball comedy remake of Ghostbusters. Of course, he’s best known for playing Thor in the Thor and Avengers films, and it’s this role that has defined his career so far. Hemsworth has appeared in six superhero films (counting Thor: Ragnarok, which comes out later this year), and his specific likeness has even been used in video games. You’ll also find Hemsworth in a number of mobile games among the pop culture and film-themed slot games online, alongside several other Marvel heroes. Whether you’re looking for a movie or pulling up an app or online slot game, when you think Hemsworth, you see Thor.
Like Hemsworth, Evans has been defined by his role in the sprawling Marvel superhero empire. While Hemsworth gets to play the god of thunder, Evans has taken on the part of Captain America—a role better known to the public through many fans’ age-old love affairs with the comics. Evans has thrived in the role, arguably producing some of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s best character-focused films in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War. Evans has also had his likeness used in numerous themed video games surrounding his superhero persona.
But it’s actually a more recent, less prestigious, role that has enhanced his status among the Hollywood Chrises. As much as people adore the Marvel movies, Evans’s take on Captain America has always been a little stiff, and somewhat lacking in charisma next to Robert Downey Jr.’s take on Iron Man. In the movie Gifted, Evans plays a disillusioned former professor caring for a brilliant niece, and displays a great deal more charm and versatility. It proved he may be as good an actor as any of these Chrises.
Not to be outdone by the Chrises headlining Marvel projects, Chris Pine is perhaps best known for having helped to revive Star Trek. Playing the role of James Kirk, he’s been a part of three successful projects that have brought Star Trek back to life for a younger generation. But Pine has been busy outside of this sci-fi series as well. He’s shown a comedic side in projects like Wet Hot American Summer, he’s done conventional action in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, and he’s signed on for what could be a major hit in a coming adaptation of the beloved children’s novel A Wrinkle In Time. That’s not to mention his work in Hell Or High Water, which was a critical darling in 2016 and an Oscar nominee.
From a pure celebrity interest perspective, Pine was unfairly burdened early on by being compared to a young Brad Pitt. Given the commonly discussed similarities between Pitt and Robert Redford, this set Pine up as the successor in an extremely difficult act to follow. He hasn’t quite become the star a Redford or Pitt was, but this was a silly comparison to begin with.
The star of Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 might be the most fascinating of all the Hollywood Chrises. That’s because he almost literally came out of nowhere. Pratt was living in a van on Maui before he got a few small TV roles that eventually catapulted him to the role of Andy Dwyer in Parks And Recreation. That’s the role that won him the hearts of a lot of fans, but since taking it Pratt has enjoyed an immensely improbable rise to a position of true Hollywood stardom. He’s now the lead in both the Guardians Of The Galaxy franchise and the reboot/spinoff of Jurassic Park, Jurassic World.
Pratt has that enviable charm that so few stars have that makes him seem like he’s just a regular guy who happens to be in movies. To some, that might take away from his star power, but to others it just makes him more lovable.
So who’s the most impressive of the Chrises? We’ll leave that up to you!