Exclusive: Hello Tomorrow’s Alison Pill

Alison PillTomorrow, the season finale of Hello Tomorrow premieres on Apple TV Plus. The series, which is set in a retro-future world follows a group of traveling salesmen who sell lunar time shares, led by Jack Billings (Billy Crudup), who dreams of a brighter tomorrow. He tells desperate customers looking for a way to change their lives what they want to hear, even if it’s not always entirely true. Doing so may inspire others but threatens to leave him lost in his fantasy. 

Alison Pill plays the role of consumer Myrtle Mayburn, who’s life is upended by Jack, but possibly for the better. The actress recently spoke with SciFi Vision about working on the series and more.

Read the full transcript below.

***Edited for clarity***

SCIFI VISION:   What was it about either the character or the script that just kind of made you think that you had to be a part of it?

Alison PillALISON PILL:   
When I first got the audition, I think the scene that got me was Myrtle talking into the telephone thing, leaving a message, and trying to get through to customer service and that entire sort of three page thing of her devolving into talking about her mother and her marriage and knowing there's not a single person on the other line who cares and that no message will be received. There is no way through to anything. It's that sort of feeling of rage that comes from that pointlessness and from being literally unseen and unheard. As a consumer and just as a person, I definitely identified with [that] and thought that exploring it in this kind of alternate reality would be really clever and bring some new insights into all of those feelings. 

Was there anybody that inspired your portrayal of her, anybody you were thinking of as you were creating her? 

No, it's mostly me. I just mean, it's literally like all of those times that you're on hold, anytime I've bought something that feels like the solution and is obviously not, and in the back of my head, I kind of know that. But there's also a real feeling that like, “No, no, these jeans are going to change my life,” and they don't. Then whatever [happens], you tear them; they're poorly made. You're just like, “No, but there was the thing that was supposed to fix me.” And it's that kind of seeking of answers in the external and of the frustration that, like, doing the right things, and making those moments happen that are expected of us in a society - Most of the times when I've been happiest, it hasn't been because I've been meeting expectations, external expectations. It's a hard lesson to learn when you also are – like, I'm an applause monkey. [laughs] I'll do the thing if I get an A plus; it was worth it, you know. So, to sort of fight against that desire to do it, for those reasons, I think is something that Myrtle is struggling with, and something that I struggle with. So, that was sort of the driving force of the character. 

Do you think, though, that she's better off after everything happened? I mean, obviously, she went through a lot, but, I mean, in a way, she's kind of, I think, in the end maybe going to be happier than she was if none of it had ever happened in the first place. 

I think so. I think so. I mean, I think the shake up of the pointlessness, I mean, she's through the looking glass at this point or down the rabbit hole…whatever. She's seen the falsehood of those things. So, even if that falsity remains, I believe in her capacity to, for instance, get a job and do things for herself and find more satisfaction in her own abilities beyond the sort of simple expectations that she was living under before, I think you're right. I think in some ways though more difficult, the kind of cognitive dissonance must be less. It’s always sort of soothing in it’s way, even when you're like, “Oh, no, it is as shitty as I worried it would be.” [laughs] 

Can you talk about the costumes? How much did that inform creating her? There are so many really great costumes and hair and makeup and everything in this. 

Yeah, I mean, so, Suzy [Mazzarese-Allison] is our head hair person, and she had that wig in her stash, and it was really that once we found the Myrtle wig, that was really important to sort of give a sense of [the character] and to talk about how it loosens [up] and her lipstick color changes when she's undercover, like in a film noir detective novel that only she knows about when she's a spy - and she's the worst spy ever. [laughs] But it's also, in terms of costumes, it was really essential to, I think, telling the story, and just also in terms of bringing the same kind of ethos of, it's the 50s, but not, within those clothes of things that don't quite work: the pins, the detailing on them, the fact that we all have a kind of color. There's so much patterning in 50s clothes, and none of us have patterns; it's all sort of solid colors. All of these are to sort of [show and]… unsettling of an expectation that I think sort of runs through the whole show of in terms of its tone, in terms of the farce to tragedy quotient, like, all of those things…And I think that’s sort of brought through in all of it. I think the look of the show is spectacular. I think everybody brought just their very best work. 

Yes, I think it's cool. It's interesting, because it's the future, but it's doesn't look like it, that kind of juxtaposition there. So, can you talk about working with with Matthew Maher (Lester)? 

Yes, he is just one of my favorite people. We'd known each other for years through the New York theatre world, and he's just a delight…I love running lines. I love diving into scenes and doing work on the text and figuring out what's what. So, we were able to do some of that work together and talk to Lucas [Jansen] and Amit [Bhalla] about the relationship and its development and how to get where we needed to be and the sort of the high pressure scenes of knowing we only have like three pages to get from this point to this point together. I just fell in love with their relationship. Those scenes are just a joy to do, because he's so good and brings so much to them. And I just really want them to be together. [laughs] 

Can you tease a bit of what's coming for their relationship? 

I have no idea what I'm allowed to say. Stuff is good. I mean, I think things really speed up to an almost hilariously chaotic level in the last two, so buckle your seatbelts. 

I don't even know if you know this, but I'm just going to ask you; I'm curious. Do you know if there's more planned [after this season]? 

I mean, I've had talks with Lucas and Amit about about it, and, listen, it would be a great season two. 

Quickly, if you got the chance in real life, would you go to the moon, or would you not want to? 

I mean, it would depend on the sort of safety levels at this point, but, yeah, I want to go to space. I mean, I want to go into spaceship. I mean, I wouldn't do it if – like there’s the whole sort of element of we should probably be focusing on climate change here on Earth and not sort of thinking about space tourism as a great thing. We have a lot of space trash to worry about crashing down once it loses orbit, so we’ve got some other things in space to do. If somebody was on a space trash flight and wanted to take me for some reason, yeah.

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