Space Cadet star Poppy Liu talks working with Emma Roberts and (actually) being pregnant while shooting

This space-centered coming-of-age comedy marks Liu's live-action feature film debut.
Space Cadet - credit: Prime Video
Space Cadet - credit: Prime Video /

Here's an out-of-this-world film to add to your watch list this weekend! The Prime Video comedy Space Cadet is available to stream on the service today.

Space Cadet is written and directed by Liz W. Garcia (Purple Hearts) and follows Florida party girl Tiffany "Rex" Simpson, who is about to make her lifelong dream of becoming a NASA astronaut a reality as she manages to make the space team by creating a fake CV with the help of her best friend Nadine (Poppy Liu). She encounters the NASA program directors Pam Proctor and Logan O'Leary who take notice of her confidence, but can Rex keep up the facade long enough to head to space? You'll have to watch to find out. The space-centered coming-of-age comedy sticks the landing on its themes of friendship and following your dreams, albeit in a fraudulent manner.

The film stars Emma Roberts as Tiffany "Rex" Simpson, Poppy Liu as Nadine Cai, Tom Hopper as Logan O'Leary, Gabrielle Union as Pam Proctor, and Desi Lydic as Dr. Stacy Kellogg. The film is produced by Stampede Ventures alongside Roberts, Garcia, and Michael Tadross.

Now that you know a bit more about the movie, let's jet set into our conversation with Liu for Space Cadet as she portrays Nadine, Rex's stylish best friend and soon-to-be mom. Read on to find out more about her character and the friendship dynamic between the pair.

The Parent Watch: When you first were introduced to this project, what was your first reaction to the script and your character?

Poppy Liu: I mean, it was so fun. Liz Garcia is definitely a dream person to work with. I was so excited about the chance to work with her. The script is just like... an iconic formula of a underdog story, an unexpected heroine who does the thing that no one expects her to do, which I think was something that we saw a lot, or I know when I was growing up, The Devil Wears Prada and Legally Blonde of it all. Reading it, it just brought that feeling of nostalgia, but also it's also so fresh and new. This world of Florida [that] Liz created is so fun as a backdrop. I really love the character as well. I love a ride-or-die bestie who will do anything for her best friend, including commit fraud. Then, between getting cast and us filming, I got pregnant, and Liz was just like, 'All right, you're pregnant. Now the character is pregnant. Done.'

Yes! Your character is pregnant in the film! Being a mother, as you are progressing and your character is evolving in the film? How did that feel, especially when you were shooting?

PL: It's definitely hard to work through an entire pregnancy, which is something that I know now that I didn't know then. All things said, it was a blessing to work the entire time. Also, this film in particular, I felt so taken care of. Everyone, the entire production, the crew, Liz, Emma, they wanted to make sure that I was okay. I felt definitely very cared for. There's also something really empowering to be like, I get to really celebrate being in a pregnant body right now. All my clothes were so cute and my belly is out, and I have a full face of makeup. She's [Nadine] just out here being cute. I love that I got to celebrate myself in that time of life. We don't often do for people that are pregnant. Mentally, I have never felt so mentally unwell in my life, but I was like, But I am feeling cute, and yay, this is nice.

Space Cadet - credit: Prime Video /

I was going to say, I'm a major admirer of your work, and you immediately stood out to me. I mean, your comedic timing, your presence, everything. What was the most fun aspect when working opposite Emma and then embodying Nadine?

PL: Thank you. I think it's really nice to have a friendship where the dynamic is really, really based in love for each other. Especially for women and femme characters, a lot of times you see a friendship where there's secret undercurrents of jealousy or undermining one another or maybe an overall scarcity mentality of, "Oh, my God, if you make it or you get the thing, what am I or what will I have?" The dynamic of Rex and Nadine just loving each other and celebrating each other and being like, "You have your dreams and I have mine, but we can just uplift each other' is just really joyful to play." Emma was so lovely the entire time. She had just had a child and I was pregnant, it was very like, it had a maternal hormone turned on to be like, 'must take care of her' [laughs]. So, I did feel very loved.

Rex has this insane fascination with space. And I know your character is the best friend of someone like that. But I want to know for yourself, did you learn anything about space when you were making it? Do you have a fascination with space?

PL: Okay. Personally, I definitely do, because I have had so many people try to explain time traveling to me: The time, space, the fabric of the universe stuff. I can never fully... It blows my mind. I keep trying to ask new people to explain it to me or black holes, for instance. I follow a TikToker who talks about space, and I'm really into it. In this particular movie, Nadine is not in any of the NASA world. She's very much in her Florida world. I know about as much about space as Nadine does, which is like, 'It is up there, and it's hard to get to.'

Space Cadet is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video today!

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