One of the most highly-anticipated films of the year is Disney’s Tron Legacy, a 3D high-tech follow-up to the groundbreaking 1982 film, Tron, which opens December 17, 2010. The sequel follows Sam Flynn (played by Garrett Hedlund) who is still haunted by the mysterious disappearance of his father, video game developer Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges).
When Sam investigates a strange signal emanating from the old Flynn’s Arcade, he finds himself pulled into the digital world where his dad has been trapped for the past 20 years. With the help of warrior Quorra (Olivia Wilde), father and son embark on a life and death journey across a digital landscape filled with new weapons, vehicles and a ruthless villain who will stop at nothing to prevent their escape…
During a recent press conference at San Diego Comic Con, several members of the Tron Legacy cast and crew sat down to discuss the film, including cast members Hedlund, Olivia Wilde and Michael Sheen, original Tron cast members Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner, director Joe Kosinski and producer (and original director) Steve Lisberger. What follow are highlights from that press conference…
For the actors who are new to the Tron franchise, could you talk about your exposure to the original film?
Michael Sheen: [To Olivia Wilde] You were too young to see it!
Olivia Wilde: I think it came out two years before I was born. But it was part of the culture so I was aware of the video games and it was a cool retro thing that I was aware of because it was part of the zeitgeist. What I saw was cool and now we’ve made it cooler.
Sheen: I was 11 when it came out. There was some phenomenal acting- I can’t remember who the actors now but I remember it was both futuristic and historical. I think is used something called CG?
Garrett Hedlund: I didn’t see the original Tron until, like 2003. I saw it on a laptop overseas. I thought it was a trip; it was unlike anything I had ever seen before.
Could you tell me why you decided not to use the Lora/Yori character? ?
Joe Kosinski: Our story is a father/son story. When you make a movie, you have to make some difficult choices about what you’re going to focus on and for this story; we chose to focus on the story of Sam and Kevin Flynn and the role of Tron/Alan Bradley. The character played by Cindy Morgan is in the Tron universe; however she’s not in this particular story.
Can you talk about redesigning the world of the original film?
Kosinski: The work that Steven did Mobius is just phenomenal design work and I come from a design background. With the original, the computer graphics are simple compared to what we’re able to do now but the design work is so strong that it kind of transcends time.
So it was quite a task to sit down and start to look at what I felt would be the next generation of these amazing designs. I had a great time assembling people from the automotive industry the world of architecture; people outside the film world that all came in to collaborate on this. But there was such a great foundation for us to build on.
Jeff, what was reaction when the sequel came up?
Jeff Bridges: I had heard rumors that there was going to be a sequel, for many years, maybe 20 years, so I kind of gave up on it. And then all of a sudden this script showed up and Disney had kind of had it on its back burners and they were not satisfied with the script, so they waited.
I’m so happy they did, because we got a good script and also they held out to find the right guy to be at the helm and with Joe they really found a terrific leader. He was really up to date with all the modern techniques and special effects, so he was a great leader and terrific with the actors.
How are you going to impress the public that has seen so much already, with a new Tron?
Steve Lisberger: That’s not going to be a problem. You’ll find out soon that the look of Tron is unique; it’s one of the strongest things about it but there is a sense that it’s moved to the next generation.
It really is a founding myth for an entire generation but it’s almost like it’s been held back and now when it came back you can feel all the energy we missed over the last 25 years.
Bruce, what was it like to work on the new film?
Bruce Boxleitner: Well, I was working with Jeff again, and finding out where all these characters went after all these years and what happened to them. That’s what intrigued me and when I first read the script I was thrilled by it. I had no idea that Alan Bradley would have become such a lost soul so it was such a great take on these characters. It seemed absolutely real so I was thrilled with the story.
What was it like wearing the suits?
Wilde: It was amazing.
Sheen: It was amazing to watch Olivia in the suit!
Wilde: It was totally revolutionary. We were wearing electro-luminescent lamps woven through layers of neoprene and all these other amazing materials and it was an honor to be able to wear something like that that all these departments had worked on, and it was really beautiful.
Hedlund: It was a long process, so first, you had to train immensely and then they do this cyber-scan to create this suit that fits every curve and definition of your body so that it fit like a glove. And then you go into this dark room where one of the producers has to light it up.
Sheen: There was a great moment before every take where they would say, ‘Camera and…’ And just before they said action, they would say, ‘And… light them up!’ So the whole room would go ‘Bing!’ and you would forget to act, it was so cool.
Boxleitner: You know what? All we had was spandex tights with magic marker on them.
Bridges: There was something I wanted to show you: my father years ago sort of had a prototype Tron suit [holds up an old Sea Hunt comic book]- in Sea Hunt!