Yvonne Strahovski is no stranger to taking on roles that require her to tap into her darker side or bring some serious emotional gravitas to the screen.
There is, of course, her role as Serena Joy Waterford on The Handmaid’s Tale, which has seen the Aussie actress plumb the depths of her range and intensity over four anxiety-inducing seasons. There was also her turn in Stateless, which saw her playing Sofie Werner — a character based on a real-life flight attendant who, after escaping a cult, experienced a psychological break and incarceration in a detention centre.
For Strahovski’s latest role, she takes on the world of sci-fi in Amazon’s The Tomorrow War which also stars Chris Pratt. Directed by Chris McKay, the film centres around a war that is being fought in the year 2051, with the soldiers appearing in 2020 to enlist citizens to help them win against the terrifying alien race that has decimated the world’s population to just 500,000.
Strahovski plays Romeo Command, a brilliant military scientist who just might hold the key to saving humanity if she can get Dan Forester (Pratt) to agree to her plan.
“I love the variety [of the film],” Strahovski said during an interview with The Latch. “It’s definitely what attracted me to it, the fact that I get to come back into some action land after being away from it for so long. It was really exciting to come back and do some physical work like this, and stunt work and stuff that really challenged me and pushed me.
“But the emotional stuff is always my favourite and I definitely loved the role because it had such a strong emotional backstory in the midst of this amazing action flick. I love that it has this emotional surprise in it.”
That emotional surprise comes in the form of a huge twist that we guarantee you will not see coming and one that gives Strahovki’s scenes with Pratt an extra layer of complexity and depth. But we won’t give that away here.
Speaking of working with the movie star, Strahovski said the experience could not have been better than that Pratt, as executive producer of the film, had been incredibly invested in making each scene and character the best that it could be, calling him “just so lovely, a total pro and incredibly welcoming.”
Like The Handmaid’s Tale, The Tomorrow War is something of a cautionary tale when it comes to climate change, and just how quickly things can go awry when we do not properly care for the world we inhabit.
Explaining why she finds herself drawn to such material, Strahovski said, “I love that they have something to say about the society that we live in today. You know, it feels really great to be part of projects that are both very entertaining and received well, but also comment and hold up the mirror to us, as humans.
“Especially with this film, it comes at an interesting time — there’s this theme of humans banding together because of a global problem and they have to come up with a solution together. And it’s really interesting to be still in a pandemic as we face something together globally. And obviously, there’s a strong theme of science in the film as well which relates back to the last year and now.”
Circling back to the intense training that she had to take on in order to get ready for the role, Strahovksi laughed, “I probably could have been a bit more prepared for the amount of running that I had to do in the film. I’m just running up and down mountains, escaping helicopters that are blowing up. So, I could have been a bit more fit.”
The actress may have shot to fame as CIA agent Sarah Walker in the action/comedy series Chuck and played a CIA agent in the Fox event series 24: Live Another Day, but it had been some time since she had played someone who uses weaponry.
“We had really great military weapons training for the film, which was a nice refresher. It’s been a long time since I’ve worked with guns and weapons on camera, so that was really important, especially playing someone who needs to look like they know what they’re doing. And it was really fun because we did it as a whole group, you know, all the cast members together — even the cast members who play regular people who are not soldiers but are drafted. It was really a great mix.”
Given that much of The Tomorrow War takes place in 2051 and features time travel as a very real aspect of future life, we had to ask Strahovski what she would say to herself, 30 years from now.
“I don’t know if I’d want to see what’s going on in that in that year,” she laughed. “But I feel like I would go back in time and tell my future self that you know, things are gonna pan out and things are gonna be okay, at least until 2021 after a major hurdle year in 2020. I don’t know what I’d have to say to future me…I hope future me is still there in 2051!”
When it comes to the future of her Handmaid’s Tale alter ago, Serena, we were curious to know what might be in store for the Commander’s wife, after that cliffhanger at the end of season four (again, no spoilers).
“Well, that’s a really good question,” Strahovski, who is currently expecting her second child with husband Tim Loden, said. “I really look forward to having a chat with the writers of what they have in mind for that storyline. I feel like there are so many avenues that we can go down with that. The thing that comes to mind for me is, I just wonder at what point I mean…I do imagine that Serena does find out exactly how it happened and who was responsible for it.
“So, I feel like that’s a pivotal moment in terms of her fearing for her own safety and for her baby’s safety, especially if she manages to get out of the detention centre and have her baby and live some kind of life in freedom in Canada — what would she be always worried about? You know, whether the same fate that comes to her or her child, I think there’s so much to explore there.”
Finally, we wanted to know which force Strahovksi felt is more terrifying — the savage aliens in The Tomorrow War or the religious zealots of Gilead portrayed in The Handmaid’s Tale.
“I think I’m gonna go with the latter!” she laughed. “I think that’s definitely scarier to me, personally. I feel like at least with the aliens, maybe you just get eaten and it’s just over and you don’t have to suffer as much as the other one. There’s a lot of things that could really go wrong with that.”
The Tomorrow War stars Chris Pratt, Yvonne Strahovski, J.K. Simmons, Betty Gilpin, Sam Richardson, Edwin Hodge, Jasmine Mathews, Ryan Kiera Armstrong, Keith Powers, Mary Lynn Rajskub and Mike Mitchell and is now available on Amazon Prime Video.