'The Tomorrow War' Star Betty Gilpin Was Happy To Wear Comfy Sweaters While Chris Pratt Injured Himself Doing Action Scenes [Interview]

There's an elephant in the room when you talk to Betty Gilpin about her role in The Tomorrow War. Even though the star of GLOW and The Hunt brings humor and charm to her role as the wife of Chris Pratt's former solider who is recruited to travel through time to fight aliens in an apocalyptic future, she's still playing...you know, the wife who stays home and doesn't get to fight the aliens.

But do you know who doesn't care about that? Betty Gilpin. "I was very happy to be eating bagels in baggy sweaters, waving at everyone as they went off to gun training and stunt training and were icing their knees and stuff," she told me over Zoom. "My knees feel great."

The Tomorrow War allows Gilpin to be funny, which is a good thing, because she's a very funny performer. She's even funny during exhausting press days, when she answered my questions about the possibility of GLOW ever coming back and why she's no longer playing Ann Coulter in the upcoming season of American Crime Story. There's a honesty in her humor as well – not many interviews end with an actor excited about what happens "when the wrinkles show up on [their] face."

I really enjoyed the movie. I wasn't sure what to expect from it, but it's an absolute blast.


Have you seen it yet?

I have, yeah. I saw it. My husband was so mad. We watched a screener of it, and it said "Betty Gilpin" in huge letters across the center of the screen, which felt unsustainable, but I forced him to watch the entire thing like that.

There's a real '90s vibe to it in the best possible way. I felt like I was watching Independence Day or Stargate or Armageddon. It has that tone.

Yes, totally. Yes. That's great.

Were those conversations you had with Chris Pratt? Did you guys ever say, "Yes, this is my Independence Day. This is my Roland Emmerich movie."

It's all he said. He kept saying it on repeat while he was shaking. Holding protein shakes.

I bought you and Chris Pratt as couple in this movie. I feel like sometimes movies say, "Oh, here's our heroic action guy...and there's the wife." But I feel like you two have a real believable dynamic. I bought the relationship. I bought the chemistry.

Oh, I'm so glad. Yeah. I think that it was important to me to sort of evolve away from action movie wife, just sort of being squinting and stoic, holding up laundry baskets and a cashmere diaper basically. And so I wanted her to feel like a real person and for their marriage to feel like a real marriage. And I think that she sees Dan very clearly and sees that the guy that she fell in love with who wanted to do great things and have purpose in his life has sort of disappeared. She knows he's not where he needs to be. And I think that's the beauty of being married. That you can sort of have the person's number and have the speech prepared for them of here's what you need to do to change your life, to be the person that I know is buried there, but also be flirty and talking about appetizers. Because life.

Yeah. I'm curious if this was a script thing, a [director Chris McKay] thing, a you and Chris Pratt thing? The movie lets you both be funny, and funny together.

It's funny because a lot of the stuff that we shot was so dramatic and so emotional, and then we would do one funny take and the funny takes all made it in. I watched it at first and was like wow, this is way funnier than I remember. I remember doing a lot of sobbing. We improv'd a lot and yeah, we had such a good time. I love Chris so much. For someone who's such a huge movie star, he's such a team player and so open. Yeah, it was a ton of fun.

And the other Chris here, director Chris McKay, he has an animation background. His previous movie [The LEGO Batman Movie] was really funny. So I kind of had a gut reaction going in that he was going to find some humor in this apocalypse. It sounds like he encouraged you to do funny takes.

Yeah. I think it was important to Chris McKay to find what was real. Things you could hold on to. If you don't believe the relationships, you're never going to believe that people up here from the future announcing that there's a war on humanity with aliens. It's pretty far-fetched. So if you believe that we were married, maybe there's a chance you believe that aliens really came and fought Chris Pratt.

I think it's refreshing the movie does not set up a sequel directly. It's not like, "Tomorrow War 2 is coming." It's a definitive ending for these characters. But I have to ask you: if they said, "We're making a sequel, Betty Gilpin. Do you want to put on an army suit and machine gun some aliens?", I'm assuming you'd be willing?

I would certainly be willing. I have to say having done many stunt-heavy projects, I was very happy to be eating bagels in baggy sweaters, waving at everyone as they went off to gun training and stunt training and were icing their knees and stuff. I was like, my knees feel great.

A movie of yours that I feel like is an interesting companion piece to this one is The Hunt. A movie where you are the opposite of comfortable.

My costume was pretty comfortable though, but yeah, I was throwing my body into the ground a lot.

I feel like both these movies are cut from a similar cloth, or at least they are different opposite ends of the same coin. They're both socially conscious genre movies. They're both about the here and now and in very distinctive ways. 

I love it. They're certainly both kind of "hide your vegetables" movies in terms of, they deal with real issues of today. But it's sort of hidden inside a big popcorny action movie. Yeah. I think it's important. Especially now that we're so polarized and where we're getting our news and we're farther and farther apart from each other, and it's almost like movies are sort of the last same church that we're all going to seeing the same thing. And I think there are two responsibilities in the entertainment industry, create fluff for people to zone out from a really depressing existence and slip in some vegetables and say, hey, this is not a niche issue. Climate change isn't a niche issue. Racism isn't a niche issue. Okay. Go back to your bubble.

Yeah. Delicious asparagus wrapped around popcorn or vice versa.

Yeah. Chocolate covered brussel sprouts.

Sounds delicious.

I'm sure some hipster has done it.

I'm sure. We'll find someone who serves that. I suppose no interview would be complete without me asking this. I apologize for asking the question. You've probably been asked many times, but has there been any rumblings on GLOW getting a finale movie or anything like that? Because I miss GLOW.

Yeah. I miss GLOW too. My hip flexors don't miss GLOW and my scapula doesn't miss GLOW and my skull doesn't miss GLOW but my soul does. I don't know. I feel like it'll be like the beginning of a Mark Wahlberg action movie where he's in the woods with a long beard. And he's like, I don't do that kind of work anymore. And then gets the call. I feel like I'll be a pottery teacher in Maine and they'll call me, like, "Season four. We're doing it." "But I'm retired. All right, I'll do it."

I'm running out of time. I got to ask about this. Maybe early last year you joined the cast of Impeachment: American Crime Story. Is that still happening?

I am not going to be in it anymore. COVID-wise. It sucks. The schedules just didn't line up. Yeah. I listened to all those Ann Coulter audio books for nothing.

Well, with all due respect to people who may have different opinions than me, that sounds like the most miserable form of research possible.

Yeah, it really was. I have an Ann Coulter impression that's pretty down pat with nowhere to go. So if only I was on Cameo, no, I don't want to be on that.

Do you think you can share some of that impression?

No, because I want it to be... [Gilpin pauses, thinks for a moment, and then launches into a pretty damn impressive Ann Coulter impression] She sort of talks like this and it's just sort of Ann Coulter and is a certain kind of person who is possibly a demon.

That was incredible. My whole plan here was to end talking about Impeachment, but since that's not happening, what do you want to do next? Assuming you don't want to hurt your knees shooting aliens, what's your dream project?

I think that I have been trying to – I think internally I am like a layered, insane, witch person inside of a kind of glittery shell and I'm sort of rapidly aging out of the glittery shell. I'm excited to see what happens when the wrinkles show up on my face. They already are. And I think that, I don't know, as my dad right now is playing a Butler on HBO's The Gilded Age. And he sort of always has internally been a butler and is now at his prime. And I think I've internally always been more of a Mare of Easttown than a Paris Hilton. I'm so excited for the Mare of Easttown stuff.


The Tomorrow War hits Amazon Prime Video on July 2, 2021.