Q&A Media Interview with Jeff Bridges as Kevin Flynn for “Tron: Legacy” (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles)

April 3, 2011 by  

Images courtesy of ©Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Back in 1982, the sci-fi Disney film “Tron” captured the attention of sci-fi fans, especially for those who saw the beginnings of animation on coordination with CG for live-action film. “Tron” was a groundbreaking film for Disney.

As Disney was able to use experimental ways of achieving animation back in 1940, the company would do the same in 1982 with “Tron” and many thanks goes to the creative and foresight of writer/director Steven Lisberger, who had the concept in his mind of what he wanted to accomplish. And although the technological terms may have had people scratching their heads back in the early ’80s and the film was seen as “ahead of its time”, while the majority of the public may have not understood the film, many younger people were fascinated by it.

“Tron” would become a box office success as it grossed $33 million in the U.S. and since 1982, the film would be seen as an amazing time in Disney live action and animation as the film would inspire many people to become animators and the film itself would become a significant cult film, including the “Academy Award for Technical Achievement” in 1996.

As the film would spawn a successful franchise of video games, comic books, an animated series and toys, “Tron” was a film that would remain a fan favorite for nearly 30-years.

And then came the sequel, “Tron Legacy” in 2010. Produced by original writer/director Steven Lisberger, the film would feature the debut of director Joseph Kosinki and feature a screenplay by “LOST” writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz. The film would also feature the return of the original movie’s actors Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner.

This long awaited sequel had a hefty budget at $170 million but made over $397 million worldwide.

And now both films will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on April 5th. This includes an Ultimate Tron Experience, a 5-disc collection which comes with “Tron: The Original Classic” on Blu-ray and “Tron: Legacy” in 3D, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy.

In celebration of the release of both “Tron” films on Blu-ray and DVD, J!-ENT will be featuring Q&A interviews with the cast and crew of “Tron: Legacy”. We began with Olivia Wilde, the actress who plays the character Quorra, followed by  Garrett Hedlund who plays the protagonist, Sam Flynn.

In this third interview, we feature Jeff Bridges who played the main character Kevin Flynn for the first “Tron” film and makes his return as Kevin and also as Clu in “Tron: Legacy”.

Jeff Bridges is a legendary actor in Hollywood, born from a legendary Hollywood family.  The son of Lloyd Bridges (which Jeff starred in his father’s show “The Lloyd Bridges Show”) and also in “Sea Hunt”, it wasn’t until 1971 where Bridges would be known for his role in “The Last Picture Show”.

Bridges would go on to star in many films from “The Last American Hero”, “King Kong”, “Against All Odds”, “The Big Lebowski”, “The Contender”, “Iron Man”, “True Grit” to name a few.

But his role as Kevin Flynn will be remembered by many fans as it is an iconic character for many sci-fi fans.

Here is a transcript of a recent media Q&A interview with Jeff Bridges:

What was your initial reaction when you heard that Disney was interested in making a sequel to TRON?

Jeff Bridges: There have been rumors of a TRON sequel circulating for many years. The first rumor probably started about 20 years ago, so I gave up on the idea because it never looked like it was going to happen. I guess Disney had the sequel on its back burners and they weren’t satisfied with any of the scripts that turned up over the years, so they waited and waited. I’m very happy they did because they held out to find the right guy to be at the helm: director Joseph Kosinski. I think they really found a terrific leader in Joe, and they also found a terrific script.

What makes Joseph Kosinski a great director?

Jeff Bridges: It’s always interesting to discover where a director comes from, whether he’s a writer, an actor or whatever. Joe was an architect and to have an architect at the helm of this movie was terrific. He was up to date with all of the modern techniques in special effects and he had a great visual style. He was also terrific with actors and he had great ideas. When this project was presented to me, I thought to myself, ‘This sounds like something I would love to do.’ The first movie tickled the kid in me – and the sequel did exactly the same. I get to play a guy who is sucked inside a computer and I get to play with all of the new toys that we have available to us with modern technology and filmmaking. To be involved with something so cutting edge was extremely exciting to me. I jumped at the chance to sign up.

What did you think of having Garrett Hedlund play Kevin Flynn’s son in the movie?

Jeff Bridges: Garrett is a great guy. I have three daughters and no sons, but when I look at Garrett, I can see that he could be my son. There’s something about him that reminds me of myself, which is why casting him as my son was perfect. He was a joy to work with and I think he did an amazing job in TRON: Legacy. He’s going to go far.

How much fun did you have shooting TRON: Legacy?

Jeff Bridges: The movie was a lot of fun to film because every day was different. Some days, we’d be working on a sound stage with an amazing set. Other days, I’d be walking around a huge, empty warehouse wearing a leotard with little balls all over it.

That sounds a little crazy…

Jeff Bridges: It was very crazy and very bizarre, but it was a fun challenge because that’s how the special effects were shot. My face was covered with 100 tiny dots and I wore a helmet with two antennas sticking out of it. I am used to acting in costume, but this was very different. I soon learned to get used to it, though.

How has technology changed since you made the original movie?

Jeff Bridges: The first TRON movie was made nearly 30 years ago. Back then, there was no internet and there were no cell phones. There were no personal computers either. It was a completely different world.

How did you shoot the special effects for the original movie?

Jeff Bridges: It was all very basic back then. There was a lot of adhesive tape and tennis balls used on the set of the first film. TRON: Legacy benefits from advancements in technology since then. It’s a completely different world now.

When did you first hear about the sequel?

Jeff Bridges: There’s been a rumor of a TRON sequel going around Hollywood ever since the first movie was released. I kept waiting and waiting to get a script, but I never heard anything until a couple of years ago. I think Disney was very wise to wait for the right script and the right story, but it’s here now.

What went through your mind when you heard a script was on its way?

Jeff Bridges: I was overjoyed. To be honest, I was very excited when I heard about the original movie – and I had the same excitement when I found out that the sequel was going to be made. I couldn’t wait to read what was going to happen.

How was the original movie pitched to you?

Jeff Bridges: The original movie appealed to the kid in me. They said, “Do you want to play a guy who gets sucked inside a computer? We’ll be using lots of cutting edge technology to shoot the film and it’s going to be very different to anything else you’ve seen at the movies.” It was like being invited over to the house of the kid who’s got all the latest gadgets and games. I immediately said to them, “I’m in!”

How was the sequel pitched to you?

Jeff Bridges: The director told me it was going to be a father and son story, and he said we were going to be using cutting edge filming techniques again. It sounded great to me.

Did you hesitate before signing up for the sequel?

Jeff Bridges: Oh, sure. I hesitate before I sign up for anything, but I was extremely excited about the prospect of the sequel. I thought to myself, ‘I can’t wait to mess around with all that great, cutting edge technology. I can’t wait to see what the visual effects will be like now.’

What made you hesitate?

Jeff Bridges: I wanted to make sure the story of the sequel was strong. I knew there was going to be a lot of visual candy, but you need to care about the characters for a movie to work. As soon as I heard the story was going to be a father and son adventure, I knew it was going to work out.

Is it true that you kept your TRON helmet from the original movie?

Jeff Bridges: I kept the helmet and the leotard from the original film and I actually wore it for Halloween one year. I dressed up as my character, Kevin Flynn, and walked around! It got a lot of strange looks, but I didn’t care.

What science-fiction books and movies were you into when you were young?

Jeff Bridges: As a kid, I loved science fiction. When I was growing up, I read books by Ray Bradbury and Robert Heinlein – and I’ve always loved science fiction movies. I don’t think you can get a much better movie than 2001. However, I also like the movie Starman, which I appeared in. Science fiction is great.

Are you into video games?

Jeff Bridges: I was really into video games when we made the original TRON. The walls of the soundstage where we shot the original movie were lined with video games and they were all free. You didn’t have to put any money in them.

That sounds amazing…

Jeff Bridges: It was great! Everyone would be playing them all day long. The crew would come up to me and say, “Come on, Jeff… We need you on set.” And I’d reply, “I’m preparing, man. I’m getting into character.”

Do you play many video games now?

Jeff Bridges: I don’t play too many video games now. I feel like I’ve fallen away from technology. I have a love-hate relationship with the internet, although I have a website that I like to play around with.

We’ve heard a rumor that you’re interested in photography…

Jeff Bridges: I am! I usually take photos on the set of all my movies. In fact, you can see some of the shots on my website.

Did you take many pictures on the set of TRON: Legacy?

Jeff Bridges: I wanted to take lots of pictures, but the lighting was very dark on the set. I didn’t take as many pictures as I usually take, but there are a few out there.

What advice do you have for aspiring photographers?

Jeff Bridges: I don’t know if I have any advice! Just keep taking pictures of things you think are interesting. That’s how I started out.

And what advice would you give to aspiring actors?

Jeff Bridges: Train hard and practice your craft. Get involved in all aspects of drama, but keep on trying because it’s a tough industry to crack. Good luck!

How does it feel to see people excited about the world of TRON again?

Jeff Bridges: It feels great. It’s very exciting. I have taken a number of trips to Comic-Con with TRON: Legacy over the last few years and you can really feel the energy of the fans at events like that. They have been really excited about the project. In fact, the fans have been an integral part in getting the TRON world back together. A few years ago, we went to Comic-Con to test a couple of minutes of film with audiences. The director, the production designer and our special effects supervisor joined forces to give audiences a two-minute taste of what the movie might be like if this project could fly and to see if people really wanted to see it. The audience really enjoyed that Disney felt they wanted to  make this fantastic world come to life again. Comic-Con was very instrumental in getting this movie made.

What was the most challenging aspect of the film shoot?

Jeff Bridges: As an actor, I really enjoy costumes, sets and makeup. These elements inform your performance and you learn to count on them. However, a lot of TRON: Legacy was filmed without costumes, without makeup and without sets. When you don’t have these things around you, you’re thrown back to your childhood – to the time when you were a little kid playing in the garden. Back then, you didn’t have a castle and you didn’t have a sword. You had to use a stick as a sword and your castle was a box. It was all in your mind. That’s exactly what we had to do in this movie. We had to play ‘pretend’ because we didn’t have the costumes or the sets or the props. It was fascinating.

Do you ask a lot of questions when you work on a film set in an alternate universe with its own rules?

Jeff Bridges: Oh, sure. I ask a lot of questions with whatever film I’m working on – and the director is always the guy to go to.

What kind of questions did you ask about TRON: Legacy?

Jeff Bridges: Joe Kosinski was very inclusive because he allowed me into the writing process and the development of the story. I was interested in creating a modern myth, so I didn’t want the movie to just be about design and the battles. I wanted the movie to have something to say and I wanted the story to be enthralling and captivating.

What appealed to you the most in the movie’s script?

Jeff Bridges: One of the things that drew me to this movie was a chance to be part of creating a modern day myth. Myths are so important for us to help navigate the treacherous waters of being alive. Each age has its own challenges and I feel that technology is certainly one of ours.

Are you not happy with today’s technology?

Jeff Bridges: In some ways, technology is wonderful – but there is a darker side to it that we don’t examine as much as we should. We need to think about the ramifications of what we’re doing. We drink water from plastic bottles that we think are biodegradable, but then we discover that they last for hundreds of years. We bitch about oil spills, but every year we put 100 million tons of plastic into the ocean. That’s worse than the awful oil spill in 2010. I think it’s a matter of educating people and thinking about where we want to go with technology – and what we want to do with it. We could use it in beautiful ways, but I think it’s natural for us to want immediate gratification.

Are there any positive aspects to advances in technology?

Jeff Bridges: What are the good things about technology? Like most things in life, technology is a double-edged sword. When we made the first TRON movie, there was no internet. Now, it’s a huge part of our everyday lives. The internet gives us the chance to link up and be connected – and that’s a great thing.

Can you survive without the internet?

Jeff Bridges: Listen, I don’t Tweet. I don’t Facebook. I don’t do any of that stuff. It’s all too much. I have a website and I draw, but that’s about it. I went to the internet because I thought it would be a way to release an album that I created years ago. I can put it out there in the world and then I get messages from people in places like Russia saying, “I dig your thing, man.” That’s exciting. That’s a positive thing that technology can do. That’s a positive link. I’m very happy about that. Very happy indeed.

TRON: LEGACY is Available on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, DVD and Movie Download April 5th!

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