At this point we know the basics of Tomorrowland thanks to the film’s marketing campaign, but it’s also quite clear that there are loads of story components that will have far more to offer beyond what we’ve seen in the TV spots and trailers. The movie is directed by Brad Bird and stars George Clooney and Britt Robertson as Frank and Casey. He’s a disillusioned former boy-genius and she’s “a bright, optimistic teen bursting with scientific curiosity” and together, they must go on a mission to an enigmatic place known only as Tomorrowland.
Walt Disney Pictures just posted advance press notes that reveal new story and character details. We wanted to share a select few with you, but be warned, there are some plot spoilers in the mix.
Back when Tomorrowland was built as part of Disneyland in 1955 the country was hopeful about the future, however, in the 1970s, things took a darker turn and that shift is what inspired writer-producer Damon Lindelof to write a story that would “recapture that earlier optimism.” Then there was also the mystery box. It was found in a closet at the Disney Studios and contained all sorts of different things including models, blueprints, photographs and letters all of which pertained to plans for Tomorrowland and the 1964 World’s Fair. Here’s what Lindelof had to say about how the box inspired him:
“I began to imagine that the contents of the box were a guide to a secret story that nobody knew. But if so, what would that story be? And the most obvious answer to me was that there really was a place called Tomorrowland that was not a theme park but existed somewhere in the real world.”
Bird and Lindelof called Frank “Clooney-esque” right from the start, and wrote him with a “curmudgeonly humor” and “heroic quality.” Here’s what Clooney had to say about where Frank’s cynicism comes from:
“[Frank is] a disenchanted grump who was a bit of a dreamer as a young boy, a smart little scientist kid. Young Frank goes to a 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.”
Then there’s Hugh Laurie’s character, scientist David Nix. Here’s how Laurie described David in comparison to Frank:
“Frank’s idea was to create things that are fun, that make people’s lives better because they bring pleasure and joy, and express hope. Nix is only interested in the more utilitarian platform of research; life for him is an endless scientific quest because he believes that man was put on this Earth to accumulate and develop knowledge.”
As for Casey, the filmmakers were on the hunt for someone with “a tremendous amount of confidence and bravery and stamina,” and producer Jeffrey Chernov was struck by Robertson’s enthusiasm and dedication. The character is the daughter of a NASA engineer who is on the verge of being laid off because the space program is shut down. Robertson also added the following:
“She’s this really smart chick who has always wanted to be an astronaut. It’s her passion and what she and her father have bonded over. Casey has this drive to do big things and change the world; she wants the world to be a place that’s full of hope and inspiration, but she doesn’t know how to make it so.”
There’s also Raffey Cassidy’s Athena, the person responsible for giving Casey the pin. Here’s what Cassidy added about the character:
“Athena had been looking for a recruit and she is really hoping that Casey was the right person to choose because that was Athena’s last pin. Casey has courage and determination and hope, and that is what Tomorrowland needs.”
The press notes also reveal that Keegan-Michael Key and Kathryn Hahn are on board as the Gernsbacks, the odd characters who own a memorabilia emporium – likely the place we see get blown to bits in the latest TV spot. According to the notes, after an Internet search, Casey travels to Houston, Texas to visit their store, which is called Blast From the Past. Here’s how production designer Scott Chambliss described the location:
“Blast from the Past is an amalgam of the sci-fi comic book stores that director Brad Bird and I remember from our youth. Different cities, different stores, but the same feeling you had as a kid where you just wanted to spend a good chunk of your week in that store, poring through everything. Set decorator Lin MacDonald spent months curating the collection; there are thousands of pieces, both purchased and manufactured by the production, and many originals, including some that Brad brought from his own collection.”
Chambliss also spoke to the challenge of creating Tomorrowland:
“Creating a unique utopian civilization is a very complicated, daunting task. But therein lay the potential pleasure of actually creating something that was special in ways that an audience might not anticipate.”
Initially the filmmakers thought they’d have to build Tomorrowland from scratch, but then co-producer and visual effects producer Tom Peitzman found the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, Spain. However, they couldn’t shoot all of Tomorrowland there, and certainly not the Bridgeway Plaza set. The location consists of a working monorail (dubbed the levitating elevate vehicle), a huge energy sphere and a massive monitor, all of which wound up being the size of a football field.
You can catch the monorail in action and get a glimpse of Blast From the Past in the latest TV spot below. Tomorrowland opens in traditional theaters and IMAX on May 22nd.