Q&A Media Interview with “Tron” director Steven Lisberger and producer of “Tron: Legacy” (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles)

April 8, 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 and 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, Jeff Bridges, who plays Kevin Flynn/Clu, Bruce Boxleitner who plays Alan Bradley/Tron and “Tron: Legacy” director Joseph Kosinski.

For our sixth and final interview, we present an interview with Steven Lisberger, producer of “Tron: Legacy” and the writer/director of the original “Tron” film.

Here is a transcript of a recent media Q&A interview with Steven Lisberger:

How long did it take to get the green light for TRON: Legacy?

STEVEN LISBERGER: We started discussions at Disney about 11 years ago, but there have been rumors of a sequel for much longer than that. Over the years, I’ve seen numerous Disney executives go from black hair to grey – and the sequel itself has changed and gone through many different phases. When the idea finally emerged as TRON: Legacy, I think there was a sense that the right group of people had now all arrived at the project. We were also really happy with the story. Everything clicked together perfectly.


How important is the story to a highly visual project like TRON: Legacy?

STEVEN LISBERGER: I care about the story and the characters as much as I care about the visuals. The story aspect of Flynn still being alive, and the father-son story is really compelling in TRON: Legacy. It resonates with the fan base, but it works on different levels because it doesn’t matter if someone hasn’t seen the first film. The story works for newcomers to the TRON world, too.

As the writer and director of the original movie, how did it feel to see a new TRON world come to life?

STEVEN LISBERGER: One of the most amazing things about this project is the way that the colors are different, the costumes are different and the music is different – but you still know it’s the world of TRON. The director, Joseph Kosinski, had a good handle on using the underlying aesthetic of TRON to make this new world. It feels like it’s grown up, but you still recognize the young person it was before.

How has the audience changed since the original movie?

STEVEN LISBERGER: The audience now expects to be overwhelmed in a number of categories. They want visuals, they want music, they want an emotional story and they want it all to be cutting edge. If you want to pursue cinema on this level, you have to put a check in every one of those boxes. However, I like to think that we’ve done that with TRON: Legacy.

What do you think of the music of TRON: Legacy?

STEVEN LISBERGER: I think the music is great. Daft Punk brings soul and spirit to the movie. The music they’ve created is beautiful. You know what? I think Joe’s relationship with Daft Punk is a little bit similar to the relationship I had with [French comic book artist] Moebius on the first movie. Moebius opened the bandwidth of the original movie for me and he made a much larger contribution than people realized. I think that’s the same for Daft Punk and TRON: Legacy.


What’s the greatest lesson you learned during the making of TRON: Legacy?

The greatest thing I learned though this experience was the notion that the original movie inspired people like [TRON: Legacy director] Joseph Kosinski, [producer] Sean Bailey and musicians like Daft Punk. It’s a great feeling to have your work embraced. It also feels great that all these years later, the inspiration has come full circle.

How much control did you have over the direction of TRON: Legacy?

STEVEN LISBERGER: I don’t use the term ‘control’. My position was to try and inspire the new TRON team. I was on board so that there was some trajectory from the past into the future. I’m glad it worked out that the next generation embraced what I did 28 years ago and I think it’s much better that they’re making it their own. I tried to make suggestions, but I didn’t give orders – and that’s a role that I really enjoyed. To be honest, I think we were all happy in the roles that we took for the new film. In some ways, I was happier in this role than in the directorial role.

When you created the original TRON movie, did you have any idea that it was going to become such an iconic film?

STEVEN LISBERGER: Yes and no. The film we ended up with clearly exceeded our expectations, but the reaction to the original movie seemed somewhat disappointing when it was first released. Over the years, I’ve looked at it objectively and I realized it was inevitable that the audience would react this way.

Why is that?

STEVEN LISBERGER: Being a ‘60s idealist, I thought there would be more embracing of the new and avant-garde with TRON. However, people didn’t expect the avant-garde to come from Disney. It’s interesting because one of the old-timers at Disney explained that working on the experimental original film felt a lot closer to what it used to feel like when Walt was in the building. It was highly experimental. That’s what Walt was all about.

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

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