features cutting-edge technology, effects and set design that bring to life an epic adventure. At the epicenter of this tale is a father-son relationship that resonates as much on the Grid as it does in real life. Director Joe Kosinski helms the project, along with producer and creator of the first Tron
movie Steven Lisberger. Read on as the A-list cast share their Tron: Legacy
journey, from Olivia Wilde
’s Joan of Arc inspiration to Michael Sheen
’s flamboyant character.
Q: What was your first reaction when you heard about Tron: Legacy?
Jeff Bridges: When I heard that they were going to do the sequel I was very excited, very much the same way I was when the original came my way. You know, there was a bit of a kid still in [me]. It's like being invited over to some kid's house and he's got all the great stuff, you know.
Q: Joe, walk us through the key component of Tron: Legacy–technology.
Joe Kosinski: I think that's definitely the overarching theme of the film. Technology—it's so pervasive in our world today, what's good about it, what's bad about it, what's important. I think it's important to pay attention to those human connections that you have and not get lost in this kind of digital world. Even though our story is about a son's search for his father in a digital world, I think thematically it applies to our everyday lives.
Q: This is your first feature film. Was it what you expected?
Kosinski: That’s a tough question. It's hard. I've been working on it for three years now and my life has changed a lot just in the course of working on the movie. I had a son during production of the movie, which really made the father-son theme of the movie resonate in a different way. I just had a blast working on it. I certainly think it’s one of the best things I've done.
Q: Michael, your character is unlike any other character in the Grid.
Michael Sheen: When I first talked to Joe about the character they wanted [to bring a] completely different energy to the world of Tron and [my character] is a real showman, sort of larger-than-life character. So we talked about characters like the emcee from Cabaret and a circus showman. I thought about David Bowie.
But the thing that had the biggest impact on me was the father and son relationship. I really believed that this was a father and son meeting up again. I was tearing up. It's such a classic story whether you're a man or a woman—it's our story.
Q: Garrett, did you have meetings with Jeff to create that father/son bond?
Garrett Hedlund: We went to Vancouver for two and a half weeks before shooting. Every day, we sat for eight hours or so hashing over the script, improvising a bit to see if there was any way we could add some inflections to a scene that was already on paper.
Bridges: I have three daughters. But my brother’s got some boys and my sister’s got some boys. And when I look at Garrett, I can see how he could be my son. Something about him reminds me of myself.
Hedlund: Yeah, and something about him reminds me of who I want to be.
Q: Joe, where did you get your inspirations?
Kosinski: I think my inspirations were a combination of all my favorite films growing up. Tron and particularly the work of Syd Mead. Steve, when I first sat down with him, took me through some of the early Syd Mead sketches and concepts they weren't able to do in 1982. So it was fun to find all this fresh Syd Mead work and draw inspiration from the beginning. But I was a huge Star Wars fan like every other kid of my generation. [Also] Stanley Kubrick, since my background is in design. I went to school to be an engineer and then went to architecture school, so there are influences from that. I was going to be a jazz saxophonist at one point. This world is a reflection of all of that.
Q: Steven, how much control did you have over the direction of Tron: Legacy?
Steven Lisberger: I wouldn't use the term control. My position is to try to inspire the new Tron team and be there so they have some trajectory from the past into the future. I'm glad it worked out; the next generation embraced what I did 20 years ago. I try to make suggestions. I try not to give orders. It's a role that I really like. In some ways, I am happier in this role than I am in the directorial role. I don't envy Joe and all the work he's had to do as the director, and never getting a moment to slow down. It's not my time to do that. I think we're all happy with the slots we've got.
Q: As the director of the original Tron, did you have moments where you felt passionate about bringing certain ideas to this film?
Lisberger: I don't know, I mean, honestly, there are moments…there are a lot of iconic things and they're all over our movie. There are a lot of callbacks in the vehicles and characters. I guess the one most important thing that we wanted to do first was get Jeff Bridges on board. The continuity of the character was the most important thing. I don't know if this movie would exist if he hadn’t signed on early on. He had a tremendous amount of faith in us. We didn't have a script. That was just, you know, me pitching an idea for a short to him and he signed on.
Q: Bruce, you return as Alan Bradley. Tell us about the evolution of your character.
Bruce Boxleitner: Being Al Bradley again after 27 years was exciting. What is this man now? What happened to him in the interim? I was fascinated by these wonderful writers and where they had taken these characters.
Over the years, Alan has become a very successful man. He's the CEO of ENCOM, but in name only. The company is not the company that he and Kevin Flynn built. It's been taken over. He has no power there anymore. So he's kind of a broken man, and kind of a lost soul.
Q: Jeff, did you have input on your body double?
Bridges: I didn't have too much say as far as picking him out or anything…He did a very good job; it was challenging to do that.
Olivia Wilde: It was a very interesting process. I remember one scene that I had with Clu, when I finally did some ADR and watched how it turned out—I was so shocked. I rehearsed it many times with John [Jeff’s body double], with what I called the Teletubby head, little pink dots on a blue hat. But it's hard to be terrified of someone wearing a Teletubby hat, and Clu is quite terrifying. A really useful element to use was the Daft Punk theme song. They were working on the score as we were shooting and they had one particularly terrifying theme for Clu.
Q: Garrett and Olivia, you both had to film with a green screen and on set. How was that experience?
Hedlund: Acting under these circumstances is about allowing a youthfulness to come back, and allowing yourself to pretend. When you’re a kid, you don’t have any qualms about [using your] imagination.
Wilde: We did have some amazing practical sets because Joe [Kosinski] is also an architect. For his birthday, we got him a t-shirt that said “Kubrick, Smubrick” because in the safe house set, it was very Kubrickian. It was really beautiful. And there would be an audible gasp when people walked on stage. But in terms of the green screen, I found it quite a lot like theater, in terms of having to imagine worlds. I thought it was kind of fun.
Q: Olivia, talk about training for this role, your suit and kicking ass in four inch heels.
Wilde: We learned mixed martial arts and 8711 was an incredible stunt team that taught us everything and made us look really bad-ass. I didn’t train in the heels, which was a mistake. It was really great to feel strong and powerful like that. I had never been so ripped. After four months, I got pretty good at putting on the suit. They were so beautiful. And I remember the first time they turned on, we were all so excited. There were lots of jokes about turning each other on. “Let’s get turned on.” It was pretty challenging but really worth it.
Q: Would you wear that black wig again?
Wilde: I would. I would. I think it’ll become a style. I think it’s going to inspire people. But I felt really lucky that Joe Kosinski was so open to having a heroine in a Disney movie that doesn't have flowing “Little Mermaid” hair. When we first talked about the role, I said, I think it’d be cool if she had a sort of Joan of Arc vibe to her and that’s someone that I used when researching Quorra. I think that this kind of asymmetrical, almost androgynous at times look made her more interesting.
Q: James, we’ve seen you in "True Blood" and other movies. What’s your role in this film?
James Frain: I'm the right-hand man of the baddest guy in the Tron universe. I'm sort of the head of the secret police, but unfortunately, completely inept and basically, I spend most of my time trying not to get killed for making very obvious mistakes. It's really a fun part.
Q: Jeff, will there be a sequel and will you all be in it?
Bridges: I guess that depends if it’s a hit, you know.
Wilde: There are so many stories you could tell in the Tron world. So if people like it after they go see it and we get a chance to do it, it would be [great].
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