Celebrity Interview Archive: Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Michael Sheen, Beau Garrett and Joseph Kozinski Talk Tron Legacy

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From the portfolio of  Janet Walker: The Walt Disney Studios behind-the-scenes look at the making of TRON LEGACY including interviews with Jeff Bridges, Michael Sheen, Garret Hedlund, Director Joseph Kosinski, writers Adam Horowitz, Edward Kitsis, and the VFX team.

The Long Lead Day, held late September, was an opportunity for the invited world press to get an up close and personal introduction to all things TRON

Jeff Bridges, Bruce Boxleitner, Garrett Hedlund, Michael Sheen, Olivia Wilde and others outside Digital Domain September 2010. (*)

The day was split into morning and afternoon sessions with both divided into segments. The segments were introductory tutorials on the elements utilized in the making of the film and the challenges, difficulties and rewards associated with the process. 

The TRON LEGACY display at Digital Domain in Venice Beach, CA. (*)

The instructional morning sessions consisted of discussions with the design and creative teams that produced the visually stunning special effects, created an identical Jeff Bridges twenty-seven years younger through computer generated wizardry, the screenwriters who worked three years developing the perfect script and automotive, costume and art concept designers.

Automotive Designer Daniel Simon and TRON LEGACY Director Joseph Kosinski at Digital Domian September 2010. (*)

The roundtable interview opportunities were held in the afternoon sessions with the talent team including newly knighted Oscar winner, Jeff Bridges, Bruce Boxlietner, Garrett Hedlund, Michael Sheen, Olivia Wilde, Beau Garrett, James Frain, Director Joseph Kosinski, producer Steven Lisberger, screenwriters, Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis, and the spectacular creative design team, Daniel Simon, Christine Bieselin Clark, Academy Award winner Eric Barber, Neville Page and David Levy.  

Disney's TRON LEGACY set to explode into theaters December 17, 2010.

From a TRON neophyte point of view, a perspective possibly shared by many, the sessions were part instructional, part marveling at the techniques, tools and effects available and used in the entertainment industry. 

TRON followers will be amazed by the stunning visual effects; the exciting, otherworldly, vehicles, a sleek jaguar styling that melds man to machine creating a single uniformed movement, and the most astonishing were the newest and most cutting edge facial capture technologies that integrated a full digital computer generated manikin identical to Jeff Bridges in his thirties.

Clu, a digitally recreation of Jeff Bridges in his thirties.

Hearing the opinion from the cast, crew and designers ended the day and shed a great deal of light as to their particular hurdles in bringing TRON LEGACY into the completed phase. The roundtables were held simultaneously with the talent rotating and the press, which had been divided in groups at check-in, staying in their designated room. As a GEM, our first roundtable was with the creative design team, followed by the Filmmakers, and then two separate groups of talent. 

On the set of TRON LEGACY.

Janet Walker: What were your biggest challenges in the creative process of TRON LEGACY?

Eric Barba, VFX Supervisor: For me, the people doing the art work were so amazing, I get so inspired. Having to take all that [conceptual designs] from paper to a full shoot and let Joe tell his story. What the challenges were in bringing to life the stuff that looks great on paper: how light reflected on the TRON, how it worked [interacted] with live actors, how it affected live actors,  how you would expect people to die on TRON, taking all this and make it all work practically was one of the biggest challenges.

TRON LEGACY light-cycles clash

Neville Page, Concept Art designer: The challenge for me specifically in designing the helmets and the costumes in a real product design sense. To your point they were very, very specific every little detail had to be resolved. We had to make them work practically. Stuff had to work; had to be safe and had to perform by themselves and had to allow the actors to perform in them. That was one of the biggest challenges.

Costume design for the henchmen of TRON LEGACY

Daniel Simon, Vehicle Concept Designer ( Automotive): Time constraints, of course. Many vehicles in a very short time. Being a car designer you’re used to working on one vehicle for a year. Not only design them, but feature, packaging, how the actors fit in them, how they work, the gadgets and gimmicks necessary to enhance the design.

Christine Bieselin Clark, Costume Designer: Hands down the biggest challenges were maintaining, or always trying to maintain the designs while dealing with the constraints of the costume. Always the roadblock for us. Wanting to keep that integrity in design and so having the designs concerns of: Are they bright enough? Are they functional? Are they hurting anybody, all those things.

David Levy: One of the difficulties was the depth at which Joe wanted to have that universe design. It’s a very complex universe with a lot of depth and a lot of complexity and so it is almost like jewelry work. A lot of details a lot of very complex things to design.

The light-cycle designed by Daniel Simon

On to the filmmakersTRON LEGACY Producer, Steven Lisberger, Director Joseph Kosinski and screenwriter Adam Horowitz.

Garrett Hedlund, Steven Lisberger, Jeff Bridges and Joseph Kosinski on the set of TRON LEGACY.

Janet Walker: Steven, how much control did you have over the direction of TRON LEGACY.  
Steve Lisberger: I don’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 that the next generation embraced what I did twenty-seven years ago. I think it’s much better that they’re making it their own.  I try to make suggestions, I try not to give orders, and you know, it’s a role that I really like. In some ways, I’m happier in this role than I am, the directorial role. I don’t envy Joe all the work he’s had to do as the director, never getting a moment to slow down, it’s not my time to do that. I think we’re all happy in the slots we’ve got.

Janet Walker: Were there any new technologies that techniques developed by the Digital 3-D production that had to be abandoned for because of time constraints or hadn’t been tested out or just didn’t work?

Joseph Kosinski: No, I mean we pretty much took, we really are advanced technology wise, between the digital characters and the 3-D cameras. We took three leading edge technologies and combined them in one film in order to tell a big story. And when everything works together it can make stunning image and talks people to other planets with that many different technologies there are a lot of times that things can go down and it brings everything to a halt. So it was definitely a challenge and a very challenging shoot.

A scene from Disney's TRON LEGACY

Janet Walker: Joseph, the panel before us stated that you articulated your vision with such clarity that  was their inspiration, that it was a springboard, they took off from that point. Where did you get your inspiration?

Joseph Kosinski: I think my inspirations are a combination of my favorite films growing up. TRON particularly the work of Disney on TRON. Steve when I first sat down with him took me through some of the early Sidney sketches and concepts they weren’t able to do and find all this fresh Sidney work and draw inspiration form. I was a huge STARWARS fan like every other kid from my generation. Stanley Kubrick and I guess my background’s in design I went to school to be an engineer and then art school and had some influence from that and I was going to a Jazz Saxophonist at one point, I think everyone’s a combination of their own interests and in particular a reflection of all that.

Steven Lisberger: I think Joe’s relationship with Daft Punk (the music duo that composed the film score). Is a little bit similar to the relationship I had with Mobeius (renowned French comic book artist Jean Giraud Moebius). There seems to always be some strange connection between a little bit of the Frenchinfluence. Mobeius opened the bandwidth of the movie for me with his storyboards. He made a much larger contribution than people realize.

(R)Olivia Wilde, Joseph Kosinski and Jeff Bridges on the set of TRON LEGACY.

Next, the first group of  talent, Bruce Boxlietner who portrays Kevin Flynn's loyal friend Alan Bradley, James Frain who protrays Jarvis, the main hired gun of diabolical Clu,  Beau Garrett is the GEM/Siren and Michael Sheen, who plays a Ziggy Stardust type entrepreneur club owner,  Castor

Michael Sheen as Castor in TRON LEGACY

Janet Walker: What were your biggest challenges in the filming process?
Bruce Boxlietner: I was fascinated by the wonderful writers. I don’t know I think the challenges were the motion capture things. The Benjamin Button look, you know, dots all over your face and people look at you, like you didn’t know what you were doing. For me, I’m just reeling in this brand new atmosphere an old guy remembering a younger man and that’s about it for me.  It’s just a wonderful reunion.

James Frain: The Motion Capture stuff. Basically, you do the scene twice. You do the scene with the guy you’re doing the scene with and then you do the scene with another actor who is doing the body and then after they take the rest of the footage and they take the head on one guy and put in on the body of another. After a while you kind of get used to it but it was definitely a challenge.

A Siren/Gem, Beau Garrett, from TRON LEGACY.

Beau Garrett: I would definitely say it was the suit. It was really strange. I had to do a mantra to prepare myself as I spent the three hours getting it on. Then, to actually be comfortable enough to walk. My feet really hurt a lot. And I had to wear these incredibly uncomfortable shoes and you couldn’t take them off. It was like a onesies. I had really struggled just walking and doing my scenes and keeping focused and calm because you couldn’t take it off. I never struggled with physical challenges like that and the mental challenges too. It was hard to be present all the time because you’re in a lot of pain.

Quorra, Olivia Wilde, from TRON LEGACY

Michael Sheen: For a film that not only pushes the envelope in terms of what they can do with technology and I’m still not right out of the echo But all that and you see the effort today in the clips. But to not let that overwhelm you in terms of the costumes and the motion capture and everything we worked with and not let that take away from what was the reason I wanted to do the film in the first place because the story, and the story and how it worked with the script on the page and before any of that technology comes in, to be able to enjoy and go in with everything the film/technology could give and at the same time it’s hard when you have six inch heels on, as a man and a costume that does take hours getting into . . .

James Frain: And you looked fantastic in those . .

Michael Sheen: (laughs) and the days of going to the bathroom were over, once it was on that was it. And you couldn’t sit down you had to have a special bicycle things on poles to lean against, with all that going on and actors are probably not known to complain, (laughs from all), we could have I suppose, gone through the day complaining or just get on with it or not really connecting with the work, but I think it sort of trickled down from the top. Garrett, who was there every day, he was so stoic, he was like enthusiastic and really every day he came into work, he was loving it, loving meeting everyone and loving being a part of it. That really effected, I think, everyone else and that made a big difference and I think just sticking with it.

From Walt Disney Pictures Studios TRON LEGACY set to explode into theaters December 17, 2010.

The next group of talent included Jeff Bridges who portrays computer game genius Kevin Flynn and CluGarrett Hedlund, as Sam Flynn and Olivia Wilde as Quorra.

Clu, the computer generated Jeff Bridges

Janet Walker: Of all the elements of the film do you consider the CGI, the computer generating imaging, I think that’s what you’re talking about . . .
Jeff Bridges: No, that’s not it. That’s something else too.
Janet Walker: Was that the most challenging aspect?
Jeff Bridges:  Yes. I would say that was. It’s a whole different way of doing what actors usually do in movies. Like you say acting without any cameras. So, everything is done in post. After the movie is all complete. Then your costume goes on, then your make-up, and then the set and also, the camera angle, which is really unusual, normally as an actor your working on a movie, you’re working  with a camera and your all right now inside her and then they edit that in as they see fit.

Jeff Bridges as Kevin Flynn

Janet Walker: Where did you draw your inspiration from to create your character; you have a young diabolical character. So, where did you draw your inspiration?
Jeff Bridges: From the script, that’s really the first place, the story, that’s where you start. One of the things that drew me to the project in general was this opportunity to admit that about technology navigating in those waters where we are right now. So, I was invited because they put some of that into the script and the script that what you refer to or that’s what I do at least where I start and then I start looking at aspects of myself to kind each character. So, in this case I was a couple of guys and so I had to magnify certain aspects of myself.

A scene from TRON LEGACY

Janet Walker: Do you consider yourself technologically savvy?
Jeff Bridges: I don’t know man, that's a relative deal, . . . I don’t tweet or do any of that stuff. I don’t spend too much energy in trying to keep up; it just goes to fast.

Olivia Wilde, as Quorra, and Garrett Hedlund as Sam Flynn in a scene from TRON LEGACY

Janet Walker: Jeff, Joe [ Kosinski] had said earlier, three years ago when most important thing was TRON LEGACY was discussed was to get you on board, to secure your participation. How did he approach you and how long did it take or did you think about it?

Jeff Bridges: When I heard that they were doing a sequel I was very excited; very much like when I heard about the original came my way. When I heard about it, the original one,  it was like ‘You want to play this guy who gets sucked inside this computer and you get to use all this cutting edge stuff’ it’s like being invited over to some kid’s house and he’s got all this great stuff! And with this one I had all that again, but also one of the things I was most concerned about was that it wouldn’t be simply a fantastic story built around all this wonderful visual stuff  but also an opportunity to talk about technology in a creative way.

Quorra, Olivia Wilde, from TRON LEGACY

As time constraints would have it, and having to share the talent with the others GEM’s, the interviews were completed. 

Garrett Hedlund at the Long Lead Day held at Digital Domain in Venice Beach, CA. (*)

TRON:LEGACY, presented in Disney Digital 3D and IMAX 3D, is set to explode into theaters December 17, 2010.

The TRON LEGACY cast outside Digital Domain after the end of the Long Lead Day September 2010. (*)

All images, except where noted (*), courtesy of The Walt Disney Studios.

A 1982 TRON advertisement

Images where noted (*) taken by Janet Walker courtesy of Pulse Point Productions, Inc. 

TRON LEGACY The complete gaming collection for Wii.

This article originally appeared in Splash Magazines Worldwide and is part of the entertainment portfolio of Janet Walker, NYC Associate Editor and Entertainment Journalist.

 

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