The Tomorrow War Stars Chris Pratt, Yvonne Strahovski and JK Simmons told journalists about their intense experience making the movie, which premieres on Prime Video on July 2, 2021.
In the film the world is stunned when a group of time travelers interrupt a televised World Cup soccer game. They have come from 2051 to tell humanity that they are fighting a global war against a deadly alien species. There is only one way they are going to win. That is if soldiers and civilians from this timeline can be transported to the future to help them.
Among those reluctant draftees is Dan Forester (Chris Pratt, Guardians of the Galaxy), a high school teacher. He is forced to leave his wife Emmy, young daughter Muri and his estranged father James (JK Simmons, Whiplash) behind.
In 2051 Dan teams up with a brilliant military scientist code-name Romeo Command (Yvonne Strahovski, The Handmaid’s Tale, Chuck). Their desperate quest is to rewrite the fate of the planet and save the world.
Drafting Dead People
So many wars have been fought by young people. In this movie, it is older people in their 30s’ or 40s’ who fight.
Chris Pratt: In terms of our history of conscription, we’ve seen these movies where it is 18, 19-year-old kids thrown into battle. They’re 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. Everyone who’s come back to train us is under the age of 30; because you can’t live in both timelines at the same time. They’re drafting people who are going to be dead in 2051.
Father / Son relationship
JK, how did you and Chris work on the contentious relationship between father and son?
JK Simmons: It’s all there on the page. Then the beauty of working with a guy like Chris is we can take the page [and] we can incorporate. We have the freedom, whether it’s goofing around or finding other angles into the drama and conflict.
We felt free to make it our own, so you end up doing six or seven takes of a given scene. Then the director (Chris McKay) has significantly different versions of the emotion, passion, drama and the comedy to choose from.
‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ nod
Chris, what are your thoughts on this relationship?
Chris: It’s tricky to navigate this question and give an answer without getting into spoiler territory. There is a nod to It’s A Wonderful Life at the beginning of this film. Thematically we have some similarities there. This is a guy who’s not happy with his station in life.
He’s got this relationship with his dad that he’s estranged from. 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, he has more similarities with his father than he’s even realized. In coming to grips with that, [he] gets to a place of grace, acceptance and forgiveness for his father.
Destroying our own world
Yvonne, there are heavier themes in the movie. That we humans can be our own worst enemies; destroying our own world, let alone having to save it from alien invaders.
Yvonne Strahovski: I think it’s really interesting coming out of the pandemic, how we’ve all been unified during this time of isolation. And how this maybe comes at a really good time where it echoes [where] we’ve been, and hopefully, where we should go; to really focus on the environmental aspects that we face all together as a people.
Water Work Stunts
For Chris and JK, there’s a lot of action in The Tomorrow War. What was your most challenging scene?
Chris: There’s a really great sequence 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. We got to jump off of this high dive that we built out of a fork lift. [We] jump off into the water [and] the camera followed us down. 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. It was cool, fun and really physical.
JK: I didn’t get to work in the water but I work in the frozen water which was a different exhilaration. I’m still a little miffed that McKay let them  my traumatic slide down the glacier. That will be in the sequel, I guess.
What were you guys looking at when you were acting against the aliens?
Yvonne: A lot of the times there was nothing. To me, the process was fascinating. That was my first time having to perform with something that isn’t actually there.
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, feels a little funky. In the end, I found it pretty liberating. You’re free to create the action and the physicality that later in post gets built around what you’ve done.
Chris: It’s true that it’s more liberating when you don’t have a prop to work with. You basically force the animators to do whatever they have to do to make your choices work. You just imagine an animator pulling their hair out like, ‘Oh, great. I have to make that work somehow.’ It’s pretty fun.
I’ve had my fair share of experience running from and fighting against creatures that aren’t there. There’s certainly a craft to it.
What was the most daring thing that you had to do in The Tomorrow War?
Yvonne: Chris and I were at the top of a power plant. We had to run across this steel beam. You could see the ground because everything in a power plant is made out of metal grade. 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 wasn’t sure if I could actually run across it.
We were obviously on wires. Doing the first couple of walks across, you really get to channel your inner Zen. Then just have blind faith that you’re going to run across that thing and not fall off.
Chris: Yes, they’re gonna catch you if you fall, but not before 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 walked across, and then you ran across. I was like, ‘This is crazy. These beams are more narrow than my foot.’ You have a good center of gravity or balance. Maybe it’s because of all your work on Chuck, you just know how to jump right into the action stuff, but that was hard.
Yvonne: Maybe I’m just good at pretending I’m not scared. (she laughs)