Everything we learnt from director Brad Bird, writer Damon Lindelof and star Britt Robertson about the making of Disney's Tomorrowland

Brad Bird's science fiction adventure Tomorrowland, released in UK cinemas this Friday, isn't your average summer blockbuster.

For one thing, it's set in the future, and has a teen protagonist – but it isn't a gritty, Hunger Games-esque dystopian thriller.

Instead, it's a dizzying, surprisingly uplifted adventure movie, inspired by the Walt Disney theme park attraction of the same name, and featuring everything from the 1964 Paris World's Fair, to jetpacks, killer robots, and space rockets. 

The film stars newcomer Britt Robertson as science-obsessed Casey, while George Clooney plays  the older, more cynical Frank Walker. 

The pair have one thing in common: they've both visited the titular Tomorrowland (in the film it's a mystical, out-of-time world in which "anything is possible", rather than a Disneyworld zone). 

The film has been shrouded in secrecy since it was first announced – but now the cast and crew are free to spill their secrets. Here's what we learnt from Tomorrowland director Brad Bird, writer Damon Lindelof, and star Robertson when they recently visited London.  

1. It's all about science

"I think there is a tendency now for politicians to pit science against spirituality, which to me is crazy," Tomorrowland director Brad Bird told the Telegraph, explaining why he chose to put ideas surrounding science and discovery at the heart of his film. "To me, science is just trying to understand the natural order of the world. 

"If you believe in God, science is part of God, and if you don't then science is part of daily life. Science shouldn't be seen as something alien, but as something positive, and potentially really exciting."

2. Damon Lindelof's son didn't realise Walt Disney was a real person 

"I have an eight-year-old son, and, a couple of years ago, I said something about Walt, and he goes 'wait a minute... Walt Disney was a man?'" said Tomorrowland writer Damon Lindelof (who also wrote the TV series Lost and Ridley Scott's Prometheus).

Tomorrowland: a place caught between time and space Credit: Disney

"It didn't even occur to me – of course, Walt's been dead for 50 years now – that my son wouldn't know that [Disney's]  not just a company – it's like saying there's a Mr Coca Cola. 

3. The film is a tribute to Disney's "futurism"

"We really set out to make a movie thinking:  if Walt was alive today, and he were our boss,  would he make this script? Is this along with his ideology?" said Lindelof.

Britt Robertson in Tomorrowland

"All of his futurism, all of his positivity, the fact that he was living in an age that was much worse than we are now – it was the Sixties, we were on the brink of nuclear war at pretty much every moment, and still he [Walt] was talking about space travel ... he was a dreamer in spite of having gone through World War Two.  We really wanted to honour his vision."

4. It's a love affair with the future

"A lot of movies need to have a romance, or a romantic element to them, in order to get the movie made," said Lindelof. "So, when we taled about the film, Brad and I always said: 'This is a love story about the future.' It's about people who are in love with the future." 

The film's "love affair with the future" is also represented by the relationship between Clooney's character Frank Walker (portrayed as a young boy by Thomas Robinson), and Athena, played by 13-year Raffey Cassidy.

While Walker ages, Athena's character (for reasons revealed in the film) remains the same age,

"Athena, she says 'I am the future, Frank Walker,'" said Lindelof. "This young boy is really in love with this young girl, but it's more that he's in love with what she represents. So, while it's something of a radical idea that that boy grows up and the girl doesn't, they still have this 'romance' – this romantic, idealistic idea of what the future can be, and that's how they relate."

5. Hugh Laurie entertained the crew in the Bahamas

The Tomorrowland cast is enriched by a characteristically sardonic turn from British actor Hugh Laurie, who plays villain David Nix.  Bird explained that Laurie was always his first choice for the role. 

"We were so excited to get him," the director said. "We said: 'Who is our ideal first choice?' And it was Hugh.

"Not only is he a fantastic actor, but he's also really funny and talented. There was this moment when we were shooting in the Bahamas –   it was a very small crew, as we kind of had to shoot Guerilla-style –   and he just started playing [keyboard], at this little tiny bar in Eleuthera, and was a blast to watch. Any chance to work with Hugh is fantastic." 

6. George Clooney's do-gooding ways helped him land the role

When it come sto human rights and environemental issues, Clooney, who is married to the human rights lawyer and activist Amal Clooney, is pretty clued up. He has campaigned for a resolution to the Darfur conflict, and was famously arrested in 2012 during a political protest outside the Sudanese embassy. Bird said that the star's involvement with various humanitarian and environmental issues was a  major factor in the decision to cats him. 

"People feel, with George, that he cares deeply about the world and the way we interact with each other," the director said. "He walks the walk, as well as talks the talk, and I think you can feel that integrity in him. That definitely was something we were looking for with Frank."


7. Clooney gave his co-stars diamond jewellary

Britt Robertson at the European premiere of Tomorrowland Credit: Anthony Devlin

For Christmas, Clooney's gave his two female co-stars, 25-year-old Robertson and 13-year-old Raffey Cassidy, a bracelet contaning a diamond.

"He's very funny," Robertson said, when asked what it was like to work with the Hollywood star. "He was always really nice with us , always trying to entertain us, keep us happy. Because we're never happy!" 

8. Britt Robertson is often mistaken for a teenager

"I've been on planes before where people are like 'where's your mum?  Are you sure you're okay to sit in the exit row?'" she said. "I asked 'how old do you have to be to sit in an exit row?' and was told '15'".