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Exclusive: Yvonne Strahovski on why The Tomorrow War is more than just an action thriller

Keith Powers and Yvonne Strahovski in The Tomorrow War Pic credit: Amazon Prime Video

The world is stunned in The Tomorrow War when during a televised World Cup soccer game, the play is interrupted by the arrival of a group of time travelers from the future – the year 2051 to be precise – who traveled to 2021 to deliver a horrifying message: Thirty years in the future, mankind is losing a global war against a deadly alien species and the only hope for the survival of humanity is for soldiers and civilians from the present to be transported to the future and join the fight.

A draft is put into place, and among those who are called to fight is Dan Forester (Chris Pratt), formerly a military man, but currently a high school science teacher and girl dad. When he gets to the future, Dan is called upon for a special mission, during which he learns it is going to take more than just manpower to win this war, but also science.

He teams up with a brilliant scientist (Yvonne Strahovski), who is working on a plan to devise a biological means of killing the female aliens, or white spikes, as they are known. But then Dan must go back to the past to put the plan into action.

“I love that [science] element of it,” Strahovski tells Monsters & Critics in this exclusive interview. “It was definitely a drawing card for me in the film. I also love the climate change aspect of it that’s threaded through the storyline and how that sort of ties up the whole movie in the end. Science really solves the problem.”

Today’s release of The Tomorrow War is also auspicious in that it is the story of mankind coming together to battle an outside foe, something that is relatable to current circumstances with the planet having to come together to fight off a killer virus.

“The grander scope of humans uniting together for one common goal I thought was quite interesting,” Strahovski adds. “The timing of when we’re airing, how we’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel coming out of a pandemic, how we’ve all been in isolation, and how we’ve really had to come together in the world to go through a pandemic together.”

Strahovski also shares with Monsters & Critics what it was like to work with Chris Pratt, how they initially did their chemistry read over Zoom before Zoom was a thing, and how she has always been a fan of sci-fi films.

Chris Pratt in The Tomorrow War Pic credit: Amazon Prime Video

Monsters & Critics: Were you a tomboy growing up? When you dreamed of becoming an actor, did you think about fighting aliens or were you more interested in stories like The Handmaid’s Tale?

Yvonne Strahovski: I think I probably more thought about fighting aliens, honestly. Growing up, I was definitely a tomboy always interested in the outdoors and sports. It always appealed to me. It is probably the only kind of movie I loved to watch, a good alien movie, so this is definitely right up my alley personally.

M&C: Romeo Command is a strong woman. Did you base her on anyone in particular?

Yvonne Strahovski: No, I didn’t base her on anyone in particular. I focused mostly on her life and how that changes her, how it evolves her as a human being, and how it comes crashing back into the forefront of her reality as the story unfolds.

M&C: Talk about working with Chris Pratt. I understand there is an interesting story that you had to do your chemistry read over the Internet?

Yvonne Strahovski: We did. We actually did it on Zoom before Zoom was a thing. Pre-pandemic I remember someone calling me and saying, “You’re going to meet on Zoom.” I was like, “What’s Zoom?” I was in Australia, actually, shooting Stateless at the time, so I couldn’t be there in person. That was really interesting that Chris Pratt and Chris McKay, the director, were on Zoom. We had a lovely time on it and then here we are.

M&C: You had even better chemistry in person?

Yvonne Strahovski: Yeah, he’s a delight to work with. I had such a lovely time. He’s super collaborative and funny and polite and just so present with all the scene work, especially with the stuff that’s really thoughtful and meaningful which is important, obviously, for the journey of both the characters and where they go. And, also, a huge shout out to our director Chris McKay for creating the space and allowing for us to really be able to find the depth of these characters and the depth of the scene. I think that was a surprising part, an element that this movie has, that the director really focused on, which was lovely.

M&C: At the end of the day, despite all the big action scenes, which this film definitely has, would you say this is really a story about family? A lot of the people that are going into the future to fight this battle, they’re doing it for their kids.

Yvonne Strahovski:  Yeah, I would definitely say the family element is huge theme. It’s the microcosm of the family banding together to do something for the greater good and for the greater good of humanity.

M&C: When you do a film like this, does it stretch your imagination because so much of it, like the aliens, is laid down later by computer and so you have to use your imagination to perform?

Yvonne Strahovski: It’s quite imaginative the process. We had a lot of support from the film makers, looking at video footage of what the aliens were going to look, so we had a pretty clear idea of what it was going to be, how big they were, and their proximity to me, which was extremely helpful, because when you’re there in a room with nothing at all and you’re having to fight and roll around on the ground with an alien that isn’t there, it is definitely up to your  imagination, so anything helps at that point.

M&C: Everything is physics but do you think we can change the future? Working on this, do you think, “Well if that happens, could this happen?” and things like that?

Yvonne Strahovski: I don’t know. I sure hope we can make changes for the better. I’m a glass is half full person in general, but when it comes to looking at the state of the planet and how unprotected the oceans are, for example, and what it means for us in terms of losing the biodiversity, and losing the ability of the oceans to absorb carbon dioxide, I’m a little glass half empty because it’s hard when there’s so many hurdles, governmental and political jurdles that involve greed, and not the betterment of the planet. I want to be hopeful that we could become more respectful to the planet so that our children and our children’s children can still live on it.

M&C: You mentioned watching alien movies as a kid. What are some of your favorites?  

Yvonne Strahovski: I remember when Independence Day came out, I loved that movie. I really liked dinosaur movies, too, so I really liked Jurassic Park. It’s one of my favorite movies. I guess I’m a bit of a sci-fi fan.

The Tomorrow War is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

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