Opening on May 22nd 2015, for the Memorial Day weekend, is Disney’s new family adventure Tomorrowland, starring George Clooney, directed by Brad Bird (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol) with a screenplay by Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof (Lost, Star Trek).
Clooney portrays Frank Walker, a former boy genius who became disillusioned with life and retreated back to his family farm, away from society. But when teenager Casey Newton (Britt Robertson), bursting with scientific curiosity, turns up on his doorstep he is forced to embark on a dangerous mission to return to a place called Tomorrowland, somewhere in time and space, where he went as a child, where they must save the world.
How did this project come to you?
Damon and Brad showed up at my house, they said, ‘We’ve got a part that we’ve written for you.’ And then I opened up the description of the character and it’s a 55-year-old has-been and I’m kind of going, ‘Hang on a minute, which part am I reading for?’
How would you describe Frank Walker?
[He’s] a disenchanted grump who was a bit of a dreamer as a young boy, a smart little scientist kid.
Young Frank goes to the place that he thinks is the greatest in the universe and he believes the world is going to be much better off because of it. He finds out that those things were untrue and becomes probably the most cynical person one could be.
He isolates himself on his family farm and plans to spend the rest of his life there but is forced to deal with his past because of situations that happen in the film.
Your character grew up during the Cold War and is a gruff cynic, but he’s searching for hope. How do you relate to him?
I actually grew up during the Cold War period. And I always found that although we thought that the world would end in a nuclear holocaust at some point, everybody was pretty hopeful.
There were an awful lot of things going on that you felt you could change. I grew up in an era where the voice, the power of one, really did feel as if it mattered.
We had the Civil Rights Movement and we had Vietnam. And we had the Women’s Rights Movement and all those things that you felt you could actually have some part of changing. And actually, if you look at the things that changed in the 1960s and the early 1970s, individual voices did make a huge difference.
What I loved about this film was that it reminds you that young people don’t start out their lives cynical, angry or bigoted. You have to be taught all of those things.
It has been reported that you rapped in between takes on this movie. Can you talk about your rapping skills?
They’re well known. In fact, many of the great rappers told have fashioned their stylings from me. (he laughs)
I was 18 when the Sugar Hill Gang hit the scene. It’s funny, because I’m literally at the actual oldest age of anybody who knows those songs, but I do still sing them once in a while to entertain the [actors] when they think, ‘Gosh, we’re in the water. It’s cold. We’re shooting 14 hours. We’ve been out all night. It’s terrible. What could be worse?’ And then I rap.
At the heart of this movie is a really big, bold idea, do you see it that way?
Putting me in a summer movie is a very bold thought. (he laughs) First and foremost, I think it is a really bold thing for Disney to be willing to do a film that isn’t a sequel and isn’t a comic book, to really invest in a summer film of this sort of ilk.
We live in a world right now where you turn on your television set and it’s rough out there. It’s not fun. And it can really wear on you after a period of time.
We see generations now feeling as if it’s hopeless, in a way. What I love about it is it speaks to the idea that your future is not preordained and predestined, and that if you’re involved, a single voice can make a difference.
I happen to believe in that, and so I loved the theme or the idea that there’s still so much that we can all do to make things better.