Actress Judy Greer - known for her parts in shows like Archer and Arrested Development, as well as movies like The Descendants and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes - has a role in Tomorrowland… but if you blink you’ll miss her. In the movie, she plays the mother of Britt Robertson’s character, Casey Newton, but only briefly appears on screen in a home movie that’s played early in the film. It might strike some as odd that a known actress would have such a small part – but as it turns out she originally had a more significant role that ultimately had to be axed because of first act pacing issues.
While recently sitting down to talk with Tomorrowland director Brad Bird, I took the opportunity to ask about Judy Greer’s tiny role, and he confirmed that her role in the movie was larger during the production process. In fact, she was actually one of a number of family members who wound up being cut out of the film completely. As Bird explained,
Casey had a whole family and uncle who also had kids, living in that house… We filmed it, but it bogged up the opening, and it’s fun in and of itself.
In the final cut of the film, Casey’s only family members are her father, played by Tim McGraw, and her younger brother, played by Pierce Gagnon. Judy Greer is credited in the movie as simply "Mom," and the IMDb page for the movie reveals that actor Lochlyn Munro has an uncredited part as "Uncle Anthony" in the movie – which we can presume is the relative to whom Brad Bird was referencing.
The filmmaker explained that the scenes will be included on Tomorrowland’s Blu-ray release, but noted that the moments were a problem because they "tended to divert energy away from where [they] needed it to go." That being said, Bird regrets that Judy Greer isn’t in the movie. He said,
Judy Greer is a fantastic actress and I feel kind of like I was cheated by not getting to use her performance in the film. But maybe I’ll get another chance to work with her.
While it may sound like Tomorrowland was forced to cut out a significant portion of Casey’s home life, the cuts actually aren’t actually noticeable in the final film, and you simply get that she is being raised by a single father (it’s possible if not very likely that this was partially fixed through reshoots). The only reason it might bug you is if you recognize Judy Greer’s presence and wonder why she doesn’t have a bigger role, but that’s exactly why I asked Brad Bird about it!
Tomorrowland, which still does feature the likes of George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, Britt Robertson, Raffey Cassidy, Kathryn Hahn and Keegan-Michael Key in significant roles, arrives in theaters this Friday.