Chris Pratt on the challenges of making a new blockbuster

Imagine you had the ability to change the course of future events by fighting a war that has not happened yet.

Chris Pratt and Edwin Hodge in The Tomorrow War. Picture: PA Photo/Amazon Studios
Chris Pratt and Edwin Hodge in The Tomorrow War. Picture: PA Photo/Amazon Studios

No, we are not talking about a future Doctor Who storyline or a Back To The Future reboot. Instead, this fantastical premise is what underpins The Tomorrow War – a film that can only be described as out of this world.

Led by Parks And Recreation and Avengers actor Chris Pratt, The Tomorrow War sees a group of time travellers arrive on earth from the year 2051.

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Armed with a warning that mankind is set for extinction given ongoing battles taking place 30 years in the future, Earth’s current soldiers and civilian inhabitants, including high school teacher Pratt, must transport themselves to the future in order to join the battle.

“I’ve come from the world of Jurassic World and Guardians Of The Galaxy, so what I really loved about this was that it was original. It was something that just came out of the imagination of a writer and I love that,” says Pratt, 42.

“They’ve taken soldiers from the present day and pulled them into the future to fight this war,” he continues.

“This is a huge movie; we go all around the world and it goes hot, it gets cold, it gets fast, it goes slow. We built worlds, with aliens, unlike anything anyone’s ever seen.”

A running battle that hops between two very different visions of earth, Pratt says the film will resonate with today’s audiences because “it’s not soldiers that win the war, it’s science.”

The Tomorrow War is led by The Lego Movie director Chris McKay and sees The Purge and Sleepy Hollow star Edwin Hodge take on the role of veteran soldier Dorian – a man with multiple future tours already under his belt.

“We were shooting this film, and then the pandemic hit, and it kind of puts a lot of things into perspective,” says Hodge, 36.

“We’re not dealing with aliens, per se, but we’re dealing with this unknown factor that is controlling and taking over the world, you know?”

The film “focuses on redemption” according to Pratt, whose character has to make the decision to fight for the sake of his young daughter’s future, and face death head-on.

Pratt was able to draw on the relationships he has with his baby daughter, Lyla, his first child with wife Katherine Schwarzenegger, who gave birth some 10 months ago. He also has a son, Jack, with former wife Anna Faris.

“For me, anytime you can have your relationship with your offspring be part of the stakes of a story you’re telling, it’s a very natural thing for me, as a dad, to be able to draw from that,” says Pratt.

“I definitely feel it will resonate with a lot of people.”

The cast is joined by The Handmaid’s Tale star Yvonne Strahovski, who plays scientist Romeo Command, and her estranged father, played by J. K. Simmons.

Strahovski – best known for her role as Serena Joy, steely wife of Fred Waterford in The Handmaid’s Tale – says it was the production’s costumes that made stepping from one warped reality into another particularly memorable.

“I always remember putting the outfits on to begin with,” says Strahovski, “with the gear and then the military weapons and everything and just thinking, ‘Wow’.

“It’s great; I feel lucky to be able to continue in a world where I get to play very different characters,” she adds.

Noting she “hadn’t done stunts in a really long time”, Strahovski says the “physical aspects” of the project were “really fun”.

It is a stance seconded by co-star Hodge, who says the film’s action sequences made The Tomorrow War one of his most challenging projects to date.

Speaking of the film’s climactic scene, Hodge says he felt like the entire sequence took “almost a month to shoot”, including weekends, when the streets were quieter to film on.

“I don’t think I’ve been as physically tested as I was in this film,” says Hodge. “I mean, the wire work we had to do!”

Describing numerous takes involving “70-yard sprints” across bridges, “shooting at things, with things exploding behind us”, the actor says the overall experience was “gruelling for sure”.

“But you know, I think the camaraderie on set just made the process that much easier.”

Physical challenges aside, Pratt says the film also sets out to challenge audiences’ thoughts and ethics.

While The Tomorrow War is “a big, fun, exciting summer blockbuster kind of a movie,” the concept of a generation being held accountable for the consequences of their actions, Pratt says, “elevate[s]” the film and makes it “more special” than just another sci-fi adventure.

The Tomorrow War is available to stream on Amazon Prime from today

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