Walt Disney's original Tron (1982), though not quite the blockbuster hit that "The House of Mouse" hoped that it would be, earned two Academy Award nominations and, as one of the first features to extensively blend CGI with live actors, it helped to change Disney's image from that of a one-note, G-rated movie studio to one on the cutting edge of filmmaking technology. In a recent interview with Collider, Steven Lisberger, the director of Tron and one of the producers on Tron: Legacy, said that Disney was "determined to change their image" and that they even cautioned him against incorporating some ideas that he thought would be "cute" to include. The end result is a movie that may look quaint now, but which became a cult hit and, ultimately, had a big impact on world culture, as evidenced by the recent references to Tron at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Lisberger said that he believes his original Tron continues to resonate to this day because it helped define "cyberspace" for a whole generation of fans. Also, because some of the fantastic concepts in the movie have actually come true.
When the film came out, if you were older than a certain age, you didn't get it, and you just thought Disney was trying to get hip, but they couldn't ever really be hip. But kids who were ten and fifteen were like, "Wow!" They weren't into the whole politics of which studio was releasing which film and, you know, what baggage Disney was carrying at the time. The fact is it did sort of, for a generation, define "cyberspace." The other reason it resonates is because it actually came true. It came true. I mean, Jeff Bridges goes into the scan trailer, gets scanned, and twenty minutes later we sit his low-res image on the game grid. And I say to people, "Do you get the irony of this?" you know. They are like, "What do you mean?" And I say, "Well, we made that all up [in Tron]. We just scanned a guy to the laser beam at Lawrence Livermore and he ended up in the game grid [in reality, just as in the original movie]."
Recent Academy Award-winner Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart) starred in the original movie as Kevin Flynn, video game programmer, and as Clu, Flynn's digital avatar in "Tron World." Bridges revises both roles in Tron: Legacy, though with a twist that is being kept under wraps for the time being. Back in October, Bridges said that the chance to star in a movie utilizing groundbreaking technology is what originally attracted him to the role and also what brought him back for the sequel 27 years later. In a set interview with Collider, Bridges expanded on how he was enticed back to Tron, explaining that he was intrigued by the filmmaking techniques that first-time feature director Joseph Kosinski brought to the production.
Well, I got a pitch from Joe who ... made this wonderful pitch on the story, where it was going and that was intriguing to me and he showed me his commercial reel. He's out of commercials and I saw some of the technology that he had available to him, that he could use. And then it was basically the same reason that I did the first one. The first one was cutting edge technology at that time and this one certainly is for this time. And it's a whole different way of making movies I hadn't experienced. A little bit in Iron Man but nothing like this.
Joe, our director, was an architect. That's where he's coming from. It's interesting different filmmakers where they come from and what they bring to the film and he's an architect and so the film has a very, you know, heightened design feel to it. And he hired this wonderful production designer, Darren Gilford. And this is I think his first major movie. I think he did one smaller, independent film. And he is out of car design so it adds another thing. It's not somebody, you know, who is an interior decorator. It's car so the world has a really wonderful feel to it.
Some of the design elements that Bridges refers to are the highlight of a series of four new set pictures recently released by Disney.
Bridges went on to say that, because costumes and sets are no longer necessary in motion capture, actors need to "figure out different skills" for how to give their performances.
The fact that it's kind of the wave of the future and there's, you know, things that are challenging for actors who like to dress up and play pretend. You know, I don't get to wear any cool outfits or you don't need a set. I mean I can shoot a scene for the movie right here with you guys. I can just put this hat on and go to town. And everything is done in post.
To promote Tron: Legacy, Disney has been carrying out an elaborate "alternate reality" viral campaign that began at last summer's San Diego Comic-Con with a scavenger hunt that led a dedicated group of hunters to a real-life "Flynn's Arcade," a replica of the arcade owned by Kevin Flynn in Tron. Additionally, Disney released some early footage labeled as "Visual Effects Concept Test," which revealed the dark, ominous tone of the new movie, and became something of a sensation on the internet.
The campaign was dormant for several months, but started up again recently when a mysterious binary countdown appeared on the "Flynn Lives" web-site. The countdown kicked off another scavenger hunt in 27 cities around the world, ultimately revealing a new still image from the movie, and the unveiling of the theatrical trailer at a special event being held at five IMAX theaters around the world.
Like the new trailer, subsequent viral releases have focused on Garrett Hedlund's character, Sam Flynn, the son of Kevin Flynn and heir to the Flynn fortune, and his quest to find his long-lost father, believed by many to be dead (hence the "Flynn Lives" web-site). As the young protagonist of Tron: Legacy, Hedlund's role required him to put in
two months of training before even starting to shoot his scenes for the movie.
Started with motorcycle training and getting my license and after the hour and a half of motorcycle training, I'd drive over to 8711 where the stunt coordinator David Leach, that's his compound. And so we'd do the fight training there; we'd do, you know, sort of exercises and jumps. And do that for an hour-and-a-half and a lot of hand-to-hand combat. And then trained with the trainer Logan Hood who, you know, sort of trained all the 300 guys for Jeff Silver. And trained with him for an hour, intensive training so. The two months of that felt like I'd already filmed the film. And now we come on to [the production set] and we got to continue and keep it up. But everything is great sort of abilities to acquire.
But, as intensive as Hedlund's preparation for the role was, he admitted that the physical training was far less challenging than having to try on and perform in his elaborate movie costume.
You know, so but with the suit it was always funny because for the two hours you're in it while trying it on you're always like, jokishly, we got to do this for how long? You know, and then the next one you're like, two months? And then, you know, and so it's and then once you have to put it on for the first day it's just, it seems like the longest day in the world. And, you know, your body is doing different things. They got foot straps down here to keep the pants low enough so they don't raise up. You got this on and you got the boots and the top holds this one up but this has to hold the top down. And so when I raise my right arm I'm feeling a tug on my left foot. And it's all these different things and your shoulders go out, I mean. I've had a lot of chiropractic readjustments. But to the point where I had, you know, both shoulders out and three ribs out, like both hips. Like it's all just from the, you know, when you can't sit down and the lower back is going.
Tron: Legacy was written by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz and also stars Bruce Boxleitner, Olivia Wilde, Michael Sheen, and John Hurt.