Set Visit: Interview with Jeff Bridges for Tron: Legacy
There are plenty of times in my career when an invitation for something so cool comes in, I can't help but feel jealous when I hand the assignment off to one of our writers. Such was the case when Disney invited us up to Vancouver to visit the set of TRON: LEGACY.
Jenna Busch spent a few days on set for us and probably now knows more about the movie than anyone not involved with the production. Disney was incredibly trusting that we'd help keep these secrets secret and knowing that's part of the fun of TRON: LEGACY, you'll find no spoilers here.
We've got a LOT to bring you from the set this week and that's just Part 1 of the visit. We're starting today with an interview with recent Oscar winner Jeff Bridges and make sure to check back later this week for interviews with TRON creator Steve Lisberger and star Garrett Hedlund as well as a full report from the set.
Itís amazing to see you back in this role?
Isnít it amazing? Itís been 28 years.
How has Flynn changed?
Well, this is kind of a challenge for me because I donít want to give too much of the -- I donít want to deprive anybody of the enjoyment of seeing the film with any kind of twists and turns. So Iím probably not goanna answer too many of the plot -- too many of your questions about that because I want to make it fun for people without telling the whole plot.
But itís certainly a different deal. We made Tron, there was no internet, man. No cell phones. No laptops or any of that stuff. So itís completely different world that weíre showing up in here and the look of the film it certainly, you know, benefits from that.
Is your character in charge?
Well, see I donít want to get too much. I donít want to say too much of the story. We got to get a good thing to tell this folks. Something that we can present that addresses a little bit of whatís this about.
Are you the focus in this one?
Am I the focus? Iím one of the focuses. Garrett is the protagonist in the story.
Which world do we meet you in?
I canít say.
Whatís it like coming back to this character?
It seems like we had a long weekend basically because Lisberger who directed the first one is involved, very involved in this one which is great. You know, having the source of the material still engaged. I think it gave us all a lot of pressures because heís such a wild cat but itís also kind of grounded in that first movie that was so unique and everything.
I heard that years before it came out I heard oh, theyíre gonna do a TRON 2 and I couldnít believe. I said youíre kidding me? Nothing happened and finally this came about and I was so pleased and we did kind of a hey, this is not that strange. The first time I heard about this the Coen Brothers did this where they shoot the trailer for a movie first without ever having made the movie in hopes to entice the financiers. Thatís what they did with this one, to really Disney entice to say oh, yeah we own this thing, we might as well do one of these. So the trailer came off well. We played it at Comic-Con and went over well.
Where you surprised at the reaction?
Yeah, a little bit. I havenít been to Comic-Con. I got to this one coming up but I hear itís kind of a crazy thing.Do you take photos on this set?
You know I took a few but Iíve kind of lost the impetus to do that for some reason. I think when I put a book out a few years ago, kind of a compilation book of these smaller books that I made as gifts for the cast and crew of these movies and once I put that book out I kind of felt like I hatched my egg. I made a few smaller books after that but Iíve noticed that my interest in documenting what itís like making movies this would have been a great one to do it. I did a few but the light is so low that our wonderful director, photographer, Claudio Moranda, that I canít get the right exposure on my camera, this wide lens camera.
Have you seen the 3D footage?
Itís just great. I mean itís, you know, better, more sophisticated, more refined. Joe, our director was an architect. Thatís where heís coming from. Itís interesting different filmmakers where they come from and what they bring to the film and heís 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. Itís not somebody, you know, who is an interior decorator. Itís car so the world has a really wonderful feel to it.
What was your reason for wanting to come back?
Well I got a pitch from Joe who by the way this is his first film. Can you imagine? I donít know if itís the most expensive ever made but itís right up there. To have a first time guy. Got to give Disney credit for taking that risk. They were smart because heís such a calm, can do guy. Heís gonna pull this off.
He made this wonderful pitch on the story, where it was going and that was intriguing to me and he showed me his commercial reel. Heís 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 itís a whole different way of making movies I hadnít experienced. A little bit in IRON MAN but nothing like this.
Why does TRON continue to resonate with people?
I donít know.
When was the last time you saw it?
I didnít see the whole thing in entirety. It must be I donít know 20 years. I didnít look at it before this. I saw little bits of scenes. Not all the way through. I remember the music of Tron was quite, you know, Wendy Carlos did a great score and that kind of -- remember that opening shot of coming in.
There are certain things like the light cycle ratio those were so kind of fun to watch. I donít know if you guys have seen the cardboard tron? Have you seen that? If you go to under my sight on the stuff page I think youíll see it. And itís a little drawing of a guy in a Tron outfit in a cardboard box. And what he did was reconstructed every shot of the race using little cardboard figures and stuff. I mean he really got into it. That kind of thing has kept it alive and I suppose the video games have too.
No dance belt, thank god. Here we have these wonderful suits that light up so they have their own kind of problems, you know, heating up and stuff like that but the suits are quite a bit different.
What do they use?
Yeah, theyíve got all kinds. I donít know all the technical stuff but these suits are amazing. You know, I was talking about the lighting being so low that theyíre using. One of the reasons for that is so you can really see the suits and the suits can even light the other actors off your suits.
Tell me about Lisberger.
Well it is a little bit strange. Iím excited because I think heís gonna be in it somewhere in the movie. It will be fun to play with him. Just him being involved in it was a big plus for me. I think you asked what made me gave involved again. Another chance to work with Steve and do that. And Bruce too. Bruce is in it. Boxleitner.
Do the younger cast members come to you for guidance?
How do I throw this disc? No, I think we just used Frisbees in the old one. We were more sophisticated. It was pretty funky back then.
Why does your makeup take three hours?
Compare the directors.
You know, itís kind of a shame in a way but the more seasoned directors a lot of times have more difficult getting a job than first time guys. New kid on the block kind of thing. Iíve had great luck with first time directors. I love working with them because itís like you know, Orson Wells directing Citizen Kane. He doesnít know what he canít do. Heís just so open, you know.
And Steven was like that. I remember I couldnít believe it we showed up the first day at work and around the walls of the studio -- this is the first Tron are video games that you have to put quarters in just all over. I said god, Steve you donít think this is gonna raise a little hell with the work, you know. I mean guys are gonna be -- he said I donít know I figured you might want to prepare before you go on the grid. I said okay.
So actually both things did happen. It did hold up the work every once in a while but it was great fun. I remember I got locked into this game, Battle Zone. You familiar with that game? The tanks. God, hours and they would come and try to yank me away. Iíd say Iím preparing, Iím preparing.
Do you still play?
No, I havenít gotten into the new stuff too much either.
Did you go the set for a flashback?
Yeah, that was wonderful. They did a great job in recreating that.
Is it similar to the original?
Itís as closely as they could come. I mean I think that was a practical location in the original and itís torn down.
Whatís it like shooting in Vancouver?
Oh, wow what a great city. Just loving it. You know, tooling around Stanley Park a lot on my bike. And getting up to Grouse Mountain.
Do you do the grind?
No, I donít do the grind but I took my girls up there. My three daughters visited me for Fatherís Day. We had a great time up there.
How different is it working with special effects this time?
Wow, itís so different. I mean the original youíre basically working with the duvetyne team, that black stuff and white adhesive tape. Those were the design basically and so they wanted to make something they would kind of do that. Shot in 70 millimeter black and white and then all hand tinted by Korean ladies.
That was the extend of the technology and there was no internet or anything like that. And now itís just whole other realm. And one of the reasons I wanted to do it because I felt this is where movies are starting to go now, you know, where theyíre taking the actors and putting them inside a computer very much like Tron. I mean they can do whatever they want with them. They can say letís put Al Pacino in there. Letís put in Joey Pants, what the heck. Letís see what kind of guy we can come up with, you know, and thatís happened. They can do that. Itís right around the corner.
Do you get the feedback immediately?
Well this is shot in 3D. The first movie Iíve done in 3D. Kind of interesting and the video playback is in 3D so you can see what thatís like but all of the effects theyíre not. They have a thing called Privies which is a preview but in a very low rays. Oh, here these are shots off of privies. These things up here. So the whole movie is basically privies already and that helps a lot when youíre doing things where you canít see whatís actually gonna be in a movie that the director can actually talk you through.
What kind of physical preparation did you have to do?
Physical stuff? Mainly just keeping my back in shape. I have some back problem so I have to do my back exercises and stuff like that and thatís about it. Nothing too much.
Do things stick out in your mind from the first one?
Well theyíve done the light cycles and the disc game. People I think are fans of that so they wanted to keep that. Thatís still in there but itís taken to the next level but itís quite remarkable what theyíve done on that.
Is there a new vehicle?
Thereís another little vehicle. Thereís all kinds of new twists on it. Have you seen the demo or the trailer? So you can get an idea of how the guys flip on their -- run and jump on their baton that has light cycles and all kinds of different things.
What set was most impressive to you?
This set that you guys are gonna see I think today is god amazing. I was there the other day and itís this big bar, at the end of the line club.
I guess thatís the end of the line.
I was hoping that we would get that Sark back, David Warner back. I had this funny scenario that didnít fly that he was sort of my butler.
Where there any references that you wanted to get in there that were meaningful to you from the first movie?
One of the challenges of the movie was, you know, the script and working with the whole slew of writers and tying to come up with what the story is and what Iím gonna say tomorrow. But the good news was that everybody was up to the task both with their talent but also they were good folks. Because it could it have been a real train wreck if we had some guys that didnít get along or couldnít come up with the goods that fast.
But they seemed to do that with these big -- they did it with IRON MAN too. I donít know what thatís like that. I donít understand why they do that. I think maybe they have a release date that they have to get and they think oh, we can get this done and then they donít.
What special effects movies do you like?
One that popped in my mind when you said it was another one that I did a remake of that was terrible special effects, King Kong. I thought this last one was great but ours, oh god, what a joke. You had a Rick Baker in that suit just opposed to this giant 80 foot ceramic thing. Oh, god but I though the ape in that was really wonderful.
How accurate is this movie trying to be?
Itís probably a little more sophisticated but itís still in the fantasy realm.
Are you doing motion capture?
Yeah, thereís some of that.
The fact that itís kind of the wave of the future and thereís, you know, things that are challenging for actors who like to dress up and play pretend. You know, I donít get to wear any cool outfits or you donít 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. The camera angle. Thatís like a new thing thatís happening that youíre gonna have to figure out different skills for how you do it. Bizarre.