Interview: Tron star Garrett Hedlund!
About a year ago, not many people knew who Garrett Hedlund was. He had solid turns in unremarkable movies like GEORGIA RULE and FOUR BROTHERS. And then Disney cast him as the lead in one of their biggest films of the decade. And pretty soon everyone will know who Garrett Hedlund is.
We caught up with the actor as he was still finishing up his ADR for the film and talked a little bit about his involvement in the blockbuster.
What were the original meetings for TRON: Legacy like? How soon did you come aboard the project? Did they seek you out?
No, I had to read for it. I went and met with Joe [Kosinski] and Sean Bailey pretty early on and they showed me the VFX footage that they made for Comic-Con to show down there. They didn't even have a script or anything at that point. I went into a meeting uncertain and I guess I came out unbelievably driven. I never knew I was going to get to see this footage, let alone what the footage entailed. I had hoped to be a part of it. I was very passionate about it from then on. Then I'd go in for test reads with Joe and Sean and, ultimately, with Olivia [Wilde] over at Disney around November-time of 2008...
So yeah, I was fortunate enough to get to do that and me and Olivia had known each other from back in 2003 when she was doing her first project and I was doing mine. A pal of mine was on that project and I went to visit set a few times and we'd all hang out. So it's pretty fantastic that we all get to go on this adventure, you know? It was fun to show up every day in Vancouver and show up sort of as a team on this and take this ride. Because this is sort of the biggest thing either of us have every been involved in. And then to get to work with Jeff! He's such an incredible person. He's got such a youthfulness and he's a guy so inspired by everything about life. He's such a – Jesus – a hard worker. He's incredibly inspired by music and literature and philosophy and spiritualism. He's like the dream father.
Knowing that you were going to be playing his son, did you look at any of his past work to pick up on his characteristics as a younger man?
I didn't really, no. I watched the original film again and kind of got a kick out of it. I hadn't seen it [in ages], but seeing that VFX footage and the world they created then, it's funny, you know? How technology has advanced and the fact that they made that one and filmed it so dark, almost in black and white. They were just wearing adhesive tape. All the things that looked like lights on their suits was just adhesive tape and they sent all that footage off to Korea and they hand-painted every single frame of the film. So it's completely different from today's sort of self-illuminated suits where our suits can actually light the other actor in a dark hallway and you don't have to worry about all these people running around and making tweaks here and tweaks there.
This is certainly the biggest-scaled film you've ever done but, from an acting perspective, was it also the most demanding?
Oh yeah. I had never even done a film before where it was demanded that I be on set all day and every day. So that's tough in its own way. The energy and the strength required just to make it through every day like that. I've always been the supporting actor trying to write his role bigger. Ultimately, you end up working very hard that way, too because I just can't get the longstanding compulsion of always trying to add something new that's not there on that page. That compulsion sort of can drive you mad once in a while. But to be on this one and get to work with Joe and Olivia and Jeff and Michael Sheen and James Frain – those two are just hilarious, man – and Beau Garrett. And Bruce Boxleitner! Having him and Jeff was always a little treat. Seeing him and Jeff sort of bicker about the old days and what they had to go through on the original TRON.
Then you add Steve Lisberger to the mix and it's just a trifecta of laughs, you know? It's great to have Lisberger around. Him being the creator and basically the Godfather of the first was such a great and, for me, necessary attribute for this. He was able to give an intense amount of creative consultation. Plus, he was able to tell me in very few words some of the greatest [tips]. Just in terms of what an audience would want out of Sam Flynn. Before we'd even start filming. He'd be that guy who someone would want to take a trip with. A guy who has to be in control or powerful and sort of reliable and maybe humorous once in a while and all that. Those are attributes I thought I could add to it and he was right. Definitely right.