Chris Pratt & Yvonne Strahovski: The Tomorrow War

In The Tomorrow War, the world is stunned when a group of time travelers arrive from the year 2051 to deliver an urgent message: Thirty years in the future mankind is losing a global war against a deadly alien species. The only hope for survival is for soldiers and civilians from the present to be transported to the future and join the fight. Among those recruited is high school teacher and family man Dan Forester (Chris Pratt). Determined to save the world for his young daughter, Dan teams up with a brilliant scientist (Yvonne Strahovski) and his estranged father (J.K. Simmons) in a desperate quest to rewrite the fate of the planet.

Press Conference Interview for Risen Magazine

Risen Magazine: There is a lot of action and physical acting in The Tomorrow War, so what was your most intense, challenging or biggest adrenaline rush you had during making of this film?

Chris Pratt: You could ask me this question on 10 different days and I might give you 10 different answers because it really was a physical film and there was so much to choose from. Off the top of my head, there’s a really great sequence and I know that we’re focusing on the people of present day 2021, but when we do make that jump to 2051, there’s this transition and we fall from the sky in Miami and land in a pool. There was some serious water work that we got to do and that is a lot of fun. We got to jump off of this high dive that we built out of a fork lift and jump off into the water. The camera followed us down and then you had stunt people jumping down and landing on top of you forcing you under water. That whole sequence probably took two or three days, was really cool, really fun, really physical. There’s a camera down there, you’re trying to get smashed into the ground and come up, and struggle into a close up underwater. It was a lot of fun. That’s something that stands out.

Yvonne Strahovski: I just keep thinking of that moment where Chris and I were at the top of a power plant and we had to run across this steel beam at the very top of the power plant, but you could see the very bottom, the ground because everything in a power plant is made out of metal grade, so you can totally see through each level all the way to the bottom. I’m not too afraid of heights, but this was a moment where I was like, “Oh, God.” Getting up on that steel beam, I thought- I wasn’t sure if I could actually run across it.

We were obviously on wires, but just getting used to- doing the first few couples of walks across was- you really get to channel your inner zen, and then just have blind faith that you’re going to run across that thing and not fall off. If you do, they’re going to catch you, but still, a little terrifying.

CP: That beam was narrow too. Yes, they’re gonna catch you if you fall, but not before like careening your shins, chest, face, and elbows off of this beam. You won’t fall to your death, but you’ll certainly be hurt. That was intense. You were so good at it, way better than me. You’re like, “Oh, God, let me get a couple of chances at this,” and you walked across, and then you ran across. I was like, “This is crazy. These beams are more narrow than my foot.” I don’t know how you– You have a good center of gravity or balance or something, but I just saw you– Maybe it’s because of all your work on Chuck, you just know how to just jump right into the action stuff, but that was hard.

YS: Maybe I’m just good at pretending I’m not scared.

RM: So many wars have been fought by the youngest people. We pull them out and throw them into battle. In this case, it is not old people, but older people, the people in their 30s’ or in their 40s’ who are drawn to fight. That’s an interesting twist too.

CP: It’s interesting. In terms of our history of conscription, if it’s World War II or Vietnam, we’ve seen these movies where it is 18, 19-year-old kids getting thrown into the throws, you’re getting thrown into battle. They’re just kids forced to become men. It is a different relationship when it is an adult.

I don’t think this is a spoiler. Everyone who goes forward into the future is over the age of 30 and everyone who’s come back to train us is under the age of 30 because you realize that you can’t live in both timelines at the same time. They’re really just drafting a crop of people who are going to be dead in 2051.

You are dealing with people who are making life decisions based not on the life that they could lead, but rather the world that they’re leaving for their children. My character, Dan is doing this because if he doesn’t go, they’re going to take his wife in his place. This is something he has to do to protect his family and to protect his daughter and leave her with a home life of having her mother there. It’s a different theme to think about someone being drafted away from their children rather than children being drafted away from their parents.

RM: J.K. Simmons plays your father in the film. They’ve got this biologically close relationship, but they’re clearly very different people and chosen very different paths… talk about the dynamic here?

CP: Yes, 100%. It’s tricky to navigate this question and give an answer without getting into that spoiler territory. There is a nod to It’s A Wonderful Life at the beginning of this film. Even with him doing this “hee-haw”, that moment was lifted from It’s A Wonderful Life. Thematically we have some similarities there. This is a guy who’s not happy with his station in life and through the course of the events in his life.

He’s got, of course, this relationship with his dad that he’s estranged from, and he’s blaming his father for all of his issues. His dad wasn’t around, et cetera. He realizes through the course of this story, that in fact, he has more similarities with his father than he’s even realized, and in coming to grips with that, gets to a place of grace and of acceptance and forgiveness for his father because he sees that it wasn’t easy for his father either. That’s a real pivotal moment that comes in adulthood, I think.

When we look at our parents and as these deities in our life, we come to a moment in our life where we realize, “Oh, wow, that was just a kid who had a kid.” When you realize that, you can forgive them for their any shortcomings they had because they didn’t live up to the God-like status you’d given them when you were young, and you realize, “Okay, now I’m in the same dilemma, my kids are going to look at me like I’m some sort of infallible person and of course I’m not.”

I think that that’s a big part of this. Yes, in the beginning it seems like we’re two different people, but in fact, I think we have a lot more in common than Dan would like to admit, including some pretty big arms. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked about J.K’s arms on this, and I am all for it. That was the two guns salute, man. You look freakin’ jacked in this movie. It is so cool.


RM: The aliens are pretty intense, what were you guys looking at while you were performing? I assume a lot of reference points and a stunt guy…

YS: A lot of the times, there was nothing too. To me, the process was fascinating. I think that was my first time having to perform with something that isn’t actually there. We had Troy sometimes and we had the- they built this great prosthetic half-alien with the head and the front legs, but then we would often do a take with nothing at all, which, at first, is a little- feels a little funky, but in the end, I found it pretty liberating because you’re creating- you’re really just free to create the action and the physicality of what is going on that then later in post get gets built around what you’ve done. I thought it was really fun. I was definitely impressed with Chris Pratt’s ability to work with a non-existent tentacle.

CP: It’s true that it’s more liberating when you don’t have a prop to work with because you basically force the animators to do whatever they have to do to make your choices work. If you have a real tentacle, you’re moving it around like this, you’re limited to how you can move it, but if you have a fake one, you can be like, “Oh, whoa, whoa, whoa,” like that. Then you just imagine an animator pulling their hair out being like, “Oh, great. I have to make that work somehow.” It’s pretty fun. I’ve had my fair share of experience of running from and fighting against creatures that aren’t there. Yes, there’s certainly a craft to it.

You could have a whole podcast episode about the way to achieve it, but it’s a combination of various things you’re going to look at, whether it will be a tennis ball or the guy named Troy who’s seven feet tall, a mountain of a man, and very scary. You look at Troy and you think, “That’s certainly a person who could lift me up and break me in half.” He becomes significantly less scary when he’s put in a giant gray leotard. Still, he’s scary.

Then you’ve got the prosthetic and then you’re sometimes in the big wide shots, you may have nothing. It really depends on the angle that you’re in because, of course, these big sequences consist of so many shots and sizes. If you’re doing a close-up and it needs to be really scary, you might have- or, in this case, it’s mostly going to be really scary. You’re not trying to have an emotional relationship with one of these creatures, but in a close-up, you might be looking into the eyes of an actor. You have something you can pull from, you can draw- they can draw something out of you. It really depends on what the shot is. It’s the most embarrassing acting you’ll ever do. Acting opposite something that’s not there and fighting something that’s not there is particularly embarrassing… you really put your trust in the director, that they won’t allow that to become a viral YouTube sensation.

The Tomorrow War streams on Amazon prime Video on July 2


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