Coming off of his breakthrough role as Andy Dwyer on the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation, Chris Pratt was probably the least likely actor to become a big-budget Hollywood action star. But after supporting roles in Oscar-nominated films like Moneyball and Zero Dark Thirty, Pratt became a household name with his role as Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy. He reprised the role in three more MCU movies, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame, and will portray Peter Quill again in the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. The actor also stars in two other extremely popular franchises, The Lego Movie and Jurassic World series of films, as well as appearing in such successful movies as The Magnificent Seven, Passengers, and Pixar’s Onward. The actor’s latest film, the sci-fi action movie The Tomorrow War, will be released on Amazon Prime Video beginning July 2nd.
In The Tomorrow War, directed by Chris McKay (The Lego Batman Movie), Pratt stars as Daniel Forester, a biology teacher and Iraq War veteran who is searching for meaning in his life when a world-changing event takes place. Young adults from the future arrive in the present and declare that the world will be destroyed by aliens in thirty years if volunteers from the present do not return with them to fight the war. Because of the rules of time travel, they can only take volunteers that are not alive in the future, and Dan finds out that he qualifies. With an estranged relationship with his father, James (J.K. Simmons), and against the wishes of his wife (Betty Gilpin) and young daughter (Ryan Kiera), Dan goes to the future and fights the alien invasion along with his adult daughter, Col. Muri Forester (Yvonne Strahovski). Now, Dan and Muri will try to end the war in the future before Dan is forced to return to the past, where he will have to use his knowledge of the future to bring peace to his family and the world.
We Live Entertainment recently had the pleasure of attending a virtual press conference for The Tomorrow War, along with other members of the press, that featured Chris Pratt discussing his new film, its unusual plot, father and son relationships, and fighting aliens. The popular actor began the press conference by talking about re-teaming with his The Lego Movie co-director Chris McKay on a live-action film. “To the point of working with McKay, I’ve been able to work with him before, and it’s so awesome to see this,” the actor said. “He’s been making films for years, and this is a big live-action movie. It was a massive step for him and for me coming on as a producer. I had so much to learn. I was grateful to be surrounded by really smart people. I was grateful to be working with Chris. He’s the kind of guy that is open to collaboration but also has a very clear vision. This is one hundred percent his baby.”
“He’s got a great knowledge of film, but also just a really vibrant personality, and an exciting aura about him when he’s onset, which is really contagious,” Pratt continued. “There’s an excitement and an enthusiasm for the craft that he has. I’m just excited to see what he does next. I hope I’m a part of it because, after this movie, I really think the world is completely his oyster. He can do whatever he wants. This movie shows that he can handle a massive budget, get it done on time and under budget, and deliver a great movie. He’s going to have his pick of jobs that he’s going to want to do.”
Most war movies depict younger soldiers going to battle, but The Tomorrow War shows people over thirty years old going to war to save the world, and Pratt discussed that unique concept. “In terms of our history of conscription, if it’s World War II or Vietnam, we’ve seen these movies where it is eighteen and nineteen-year-old kids getting thrown into battle,” the actor said. “They’re just kids forced to become men and women. It is a different relationship when it is an adult. Everyone who goes forward into the future is over the age of thirty, and everyone who’s come back to train us is under the age of thirty 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 on 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.”
While the movie uses a bit of the Jaws approach (don’t show the shark in the first reel), the aliens do make a dramatic impact on the film and Pratt discussed the process of acting opposite something that is not there, a technique the actor has used many times before on the Jurassic World and MCU films. “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,” he explained. “Then you just imagine an animator pulling their hair out. It’s pretty fun. I’ve had my fair share of experience of running from and fighting against creatures that aren’t there. There’s certainly a craft to it. 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, and 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,”
Finally, Pratt talked about Dan’s estranged relationship with his father, played by Oscar-winner J.K. Simmons, and how that plays into the themes of the film. “This is a guy who’s not happy with his station in life and through the course of the events in his life,” he explained. “He’s got 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. 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, and I think that that’s a big part of this movie. 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.”