Garrett Hedlund wasn’t even born when Walt Disney’s ground-breaking sci fi movie Tron opened in 1982. Almost thirty years later, the young actor gets to be a part of the franchise playing Sam Flynn, the grown up son of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), a man once known as the world’s leading tech visionary, who disappeared when Sam was seven-years-old.
When a mysterious message is sent from the old Flynn’s Arcade, Sam goes to investigate and is sucked into the digital grid where he discovers Kevin has been trapped for the last 20 years. Can Sam safe his father and himself and get back to the real world? Garrett Hedlund spoke about his high-tech experience at the press day for the movie.
Do you remember the first time you were aware of Tron?
I watched Tron for the first time in 2003 actually. It was when I was filming on the island of Malta. I watched it on the balcony off of some guy’s laptop and I dug it. I was just really impressed with the way the creator’s mind [Steven Lisberger] worked, because when you’re that age you’re really inspired about things.
And then of course you’ve got the young, energetic, maniacal, Jeff Bridges. And all I remember was I just wished I could have hung out with that guy. That I got to play father and son with such an incredibly wise actor, and just brilliant person that he is today (was wonderful). But I wouldn’t have minded hanging out with the Jeff of 1982 for a few days.
I’ve always been inspired by Jeff’s work, and being able to work with him just filled me with such incredible disbelief, but at the same time just incredible gratification and a thrill and excitement and curiosity to see what tomorrow is going to bring in this journey.
What kind of preparation did you do for this role?
They actually scan you into the computer. You’re just in skivvies and they scan you from head-to-toe and if you’re a shy person you might get a little pinchy. But I was alright. The suit has to fit you completely and precisely so it looks like it’s part of you. And you have to maintain that state throughout the whole film, because if you gain an inch or lose an inch the suit is not going to fit the way it did and it’s going to have people [yelling] at you.
Tell us a little about wearing the suit.
Wearing these suits was very unique. To showcase something that’s the first of its kind was special. These suits were half an inch of foam rubber with cables to the lights that would run straight through the middle of the foam. The suit was completely formulated by every shape and curve of your body, so that’s different as well. Every morning it could take two to two and a half hours to get the suit on. But you knew that anybody would kill to put on this suit!
Was the physical training a challenge?
Yeah, the physical preparation for it was hardcore and the talents [needed]
took time to acquire. A lot of what you’re trying to acquire is the strength in certain muscles. You don’t know how much strength it takes in your shoulders and the upper region to pole vault you over things just by using your arms.
And so it takes time to acquire (these abilities) through weights training and hand-to-hand combat training. And there was a lot of preparation in having to do the wire stunts, and just being able to move around in that suit all day, every day, took a lot of strength.
People will see you as a sex symbol now. Is that an awkward thought for you?
(he laughs) I don’t know. (Sam) is a nice (guy). I’ll just have to find a gruesome character to counterbalance that scale.
What was it like working with Jeff?
He’s such a brilliant person and to be able to work with him was just so inspiring. He’s a person that’s inspired by all aspects of life, of literature and music, philosophy and spirituality, and I am as well, and to be able to go through this journey with him, I felt so fortunate and lucky.
I just felt so lucky to be a part of this film, and to be a part of Joe Kosinki’s directorial debut. I just feel he’s the next visionary genius of our time, and from being in Tron: Legacy I’m the one screaming afterwards, ‘I was just in a Joseph Kosinki film!’
When I watched it for the first time yesterday morning I walked out and I didn’t know the words to describe it really. There was undoubtedly nothing to compare it to, and I thought that was the best part about it.