It’s got impressively scary aliens, time travel and huge amounts of fire power, but Chris Pratt says it’s family relationships that are at the heart of his new film.
In The Tomorrow War the actor plays a former military man turned school teacher who’s drafted, along with many others, to travel into the future to help the fight against aliens who are wiping out humanity.
Pratt tells Sky News’ Backstage podcast that while the premise is pure sci-fi, the film is really about something much more relatable.
“I think the very best films in this type of genre are rooted in strong family relationships,” he says. “This film does focus on this character, Dan, and yes, he’s a soldier and he gets pulled into the future to fight in this war, but really important are the relationships he builds and the relationships he has in his life – him being the father to a daughter, or the son to his own father.”
“Those relationships play a big part in the story and I think if you take away the spectacle and you take away the action or you take away the jokes, if you don’t have a strong, dramatic through line, then movies are just kind of one vignette to another, and so I think what makes this movie really work is the power of those relationships, for sure.”
Since rising to fame as the dopey Andy in Parks And Recreation, the cult sitcom set in Pawnee, Indiana, Pratt has cemented himself as a leading man, starring in blockbusters including the Jurassic World and Guardians Of The Galaxy franchises.
The actor says that no matter the genre, it’s the drama that he looks for in a role.
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“I think that’s really important, it’s something that I definitely look for – it doesn’t matter what it is, if it’s a comedy, remove the jokes – what’s the drama? If it’s an action film, remove the action – what’s the drama?” Pratt says. “I think that to me is really important, and that’s where the story lies.
“It’s the skeleton on which you hang the meat of spectacle or amazing aliens or cool guns or great sci-fi tropes – that skeleton needs to be there.”
Amazing aliens and cool guns are certainly bountiful in The Tomorrow War, which sees Pratt’s character teaming up with another former soldier, played by Edwin Hodge, and a scientist played by The Handmaid’s Tale’s Yvonne Strahovski.
Despite already having experience in handling guns from previous action roles, the prep for this film saw Pratt undergoing more weapons training.
“There were a lot of other actors on our sets who hadn’t been through that, who needed to be brought up to speed, so we did a boot camp and that’s the fun part,” he says. “That’s really kind of an exciting part, is to get to be shown weapon-handling tactics from people who are professional, so it’s a lot of fun.”
There’s no denying that the prospect of running around pretending to kill aliens looks like a great gig, and Pratt is realistic about how lucky he is to do his job.
“There’s only a handful of people in the world who can get paid to play. And they are athletes, they’re musicians and actors, and so in that regard we’re very lucky, very blessed – and you get to have a lot of fun.”
The Tomorrow War is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video now – hear our review on the latest episode of Backstage, the film and TV podcast from Sky News