We ventured inside Flynn's, into the vivid glow of the Tron universe. We met Tron Legacy stars Garrett Hedlund and Bruce Boxleitner, plus director Joseph Kosinski and producer Sean Bailey. They told us how the new movie raises the game.
We were lucky enough to ask a few questions each of Hedlund, Boxleitner, Kosinski and Bailey, plus Beau Garrett (Jem, the leader of the Sirens.) Hopefully the video is audible, but we'll also summarize a bit.
First of all, Bruce Boxleitner stopped by to talk to us about returning as Alan Bradley. We asked him about the reports that the movie had done some extra shooting after the studio showed a rough cut of the film to the Pixar people. Boxleitner said these weren't really reshoots:
It wasn't reshoots, we shot further. Just enhancing. I think it was more... we had the opportunity, once we had it all put together, to take a look at it as a whole and ask what did we want to improve and add to, and I think that's what it was. I don't think it was any kind of sense of trouble with it or anything like that. It was just, you had the luxury, this far out — four months away from its release — to improve upon it. Believe me, with lower budgets, you can't do that... They just wanted to point out some different story points. They added a scene. It's just in the story-telling, clarifying the story.
Boxleitner also talked to us about being a surrogate father figure for Sam Flynn, the hero of Tron Legacy who's searching for his missing dad, Kevin Flynn:
[I'm] a surrogate father, and a man who's, in my interpretation, kind of a bit lost and adrift, because his partner and creative other half has [vanished]. So we're both kind of wounded by the disappearance of Kevin Flynn. No-one knows, it's this mystery. And Alan has never quite been his creative self, and he's been taken over by some nasty young people in the company, that kind of just treat him with... he's the CEO, but in name only.
Meanwhile, the virtual world didn't stay a utopia for long after they overthrew the MCP, as we discover in this new film.
And Boxleitner says the new CG representation of the virtual world in this film makes the original Tron look like Donkey Kong compared to today's video games - video games have become more realistic, but also darker and more cynical. And Tron Legacy reflects those changes in our relationships with technology as well as video games as a whole.
We also talked to Garrett Hedlund, who talked about how a director on Friday Night Lights used to say he reminded the director of Jeff Bridges. And so it was really awesome to get to play the son of Bridges' character. "Jeff Bridges is really a dream father. He's the coolest, most inspired, always guy. You can talk to him about everything." And Bridges was a really great sort of mentor on the set of Tron Legacy, and an awesome collaborator who brings other actors into the process as partners.
And we talked to Hedlund about how Sam Flynn enters the virtual world searching for his dad, and then he encounters Clu 2.0, the evil virtual version of his dad who looks just like him, and it's ultra confusing for him:
It's very deceptive, because there's a lot of hopes, you know? When you get into the world, it's... the whole purpose of me getting into the world is trying to find my father. So immediately, the first guy who looks like him, you're like... vulnerable to it. The fact that that's really all a trick, it's like, we don't know what to believe. And it's like everything else is a mystery.
And we talked a wee bit to Beau Garrett, who plays the lead Siren, Jem, who's sort of a dominatrix who leads Sam astray - you can see her in the new trailer, telling Sam his tasks is to survive. We had equipment failure during part of our talk with Beau, but you can see her talking here about how wearing the iconic suit helped her get in character and figure out how to develop the slow-speaking low voice of the character - and then she gets tackled by Hedlund in mid answer.
She also hints that "there's a little manipulation happening" between Jem and Sam, and she's a program who doesn't necessarily want to be such a "femme fatale.
We also talked to director Joseph Kosinski about how his architecture background helped him update Tron's virtual worlds, and how he brought in designers from the worlds of automotive design and architecture to help bring the virtual reality to life:
Architecture school teaches you how to be self-critical. I think designing a building isn't that different from designing a film. You need to have a strong foundation, which in this case is the script. You need to have an overall concept that drives every decision along the way. And in the case of a film, it can be a theme, or a characteristic of one of your characters.
A lot of people worked on this film who hadn't done a film before, and the film includes things that no movie has tried to do before — including the "reverse Benjamin Button" thing of having a digitally youthful Jeff Bridges face superimposed on someone else's body.
Kosinski praised the "geniuses at Pixar" for helping to find ways to make the story cooler and sharper.
We were always planning on doing about a week of photography. We were waiting for Jeff [Bridges] to come off True Grit, and we had the opportunity to go down and screen a very rough cut of the movie for the geniuses at Pixar... and get some feedback from people who've made some great movies. And they gave us some really great notes, and some of it we were able to incorporate into a few scenes.
And he explained how the new movie is a story of "searching for human connection in a virtual world" that everybody can relate to.
And finally we talked to producer Sean Bailey, who had a lot of fascinating things to say about how the new movie updates the themes of fascism and conformity in the original Tron:
We talked a lot, thematically, about humanity's relationship with technology and what it means. It was a very different world in 1982, technology. [Original director] Steven Lisberger and his team were so ahead of their time in 1982, in terms of what they were thinking about, that we spent a lot of time with Steve and Joe and our writers, talking about, "What do we think that relationship is today?"
He also talked up the creation of Clu 2.0 as the movie's villain. Clu is "Kevin Flynn's basic likeness when he was in his early 30s. When Kevin Flynn was at his entrepreneurial, somewhat ego-driven best, when he was changing the world, this character emerged in the system, and what is that left unchecked, with Moore's Law? That was an interesting question for us."