Q&A Media Interview with “Tron: Legacy” director Joseph Kosinski (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles)

April 6, 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, Jeff Bridges, who plays Kevin Flynn/Clu and Bruce Boxleitner who plays Alan Bradley/Tron.

In this fifth interview, we feature director Joseph Kosinki, chosen by creator and original “Tron” director Steven Lisberger to make his directorial debut in “Tron: Legacy”.

Here is a transcript of a recent media Q&A interview with Joseph Kosinki:

How did you get involved with TRON: Legacy?

JOSEPH KOSINSKI: I had a general meeting with [producer] Sean Bailey a few years ago when he asked me the question, “In the world after The Matrix, how do we go back to the world of TRON?” My initial idea was to embrace everything that Steven Lisberger had done with the first film. I wanted to embrace that aesthetic rather than try to create a new virtual world that felt like our own. When the first image comes on screen, I wanted people to say, “That’s TRON.”

How has the world of TRON changed since we last saw it?

JOSEPH KOSINSKI: The world has evolved and it looks more realistic, but I wanted people to realize straight away that we were back in that world. The idea for the setting of our film to be this server sitting undisturbed for 20 years was one of the initial directions I was interested in – and it all stemmed from there.

What happened after your first meeting with Sean Bailey?

JOSEPH KOSINSKI: I come from a background in commercials and the technique I use to pitch ideas within that field is to propose a two or three minute short film that allows me to show people the look and feel of a project. That’s what I did with TRON: Legacy. I created a short that highlighted the tone and vibe of the world, as well as a hint of the narrative. I built the short in a way that it could be used as a trailer. This was before we even had a script, but Disney agreed to give us a little bit of funding to create that short piece and we showed it at Comic-Con a few years ago. Once we showed the short there, the response from the fans gave us that extra push that we needed to get the movie into production.

What were your inspirations behind TRON: Legacy?

JOSEPH KOSINSKI: My inspirations are a combination of all my favorite films growing up, including the original TRON. When I first sat down with Steven Lisberger, he took me through some of the early sketches and concepts by [concept artist] Syd Mead. We looked at all of the concepts that they weren’t able to use in 1982, when the first film was released, so it was fun to find all this fresh material to draw inspiration from.

What else inspired you?

JOSEPH KOSINSKI: Just like every other kid of my generation, I was a huge Star Wars fan. I was also a big fan of Stanley Kubrick, so that influenced me greatly. I think the overall style of TRON: Legacy is a combination of a lot of different influences of mine. Personally, I studied engineering, architecture, industrial design and music, so all of these things have certainly what influenced me in my life. I was even going to be a jazz saxophonist at one point, so there’s a little of that in me as well.

How did your background in architecture help with the movie-making process of TRON: Legacy?

JOSEPH KOSINSKI: Beyond wanting to build beautiful sets, I think the way that I was taught to think in architecture school was a really interesting preparation for filming. You learn how to be self-critical, you learn how to critique your work and you learn how to take critique on your work. Having the awareness of what’s going on out there in the world of design and architecture – and being able to pull an amazing art department together – was a lot of fun. My background in architecture certainly helped that process.

How would you describe the story of TRON: Legacy?

JOSEPH KOSINSKI: The relationship between Sam Flynn and his father, Kevin Flynn, is what drives the entire film. That’s the core of the film and, believe it or not, that’s what we spent most of our time working on. We spent much more time on the story and the characters rather than on the visuals and the design of the film. To me, that is the most important aspect of the movie that everything else supports.

Can you talk about the casting of Sam Flynn, played by Garrett Hedlund?

JOSEPH KOSINSKI: The casting of Sam Flynn was an incredibly tough challenge. It was hard to find an actor that embodies all of those amazing qualities that Kevin Flynn’s character has and that Jeff Bridges brings as an actor. Jeff’s got that combination of brilliance and humor and looks – and a very laid-back style. Those are all really unique characteristics.

How many actors auditioned for the role of Sam Flynn?

JOSEPH KOSINSKI: We looked at hundreds of candidates for the role of Sam Flynn. It was a long process with lots of screen tests. We rang Bruce Boxleitner [who plays Alan Bradley in both TRON movies] and had him test with a lot of guys, but we finally settled with Garrett Hedlund and we’re extremely happy with the choice. He had the impossible task of carrying a movie like this on his shoulders and he’s only 25 years old. He had to play scenes with Jeff Bridges, Michael Sheen and all of these incredible actors, but he did an incredible job. I am really excited about his career. In fact, I think it’s just about to take off in a big way.

Was your work on the movie everything you expected it to be?

JOSEPH KOSINSKI: That’s a tough question. I worked on this project for a number of years and during that time I had a son, which made the father-son theme of the movie resonate in a very different way. I had a blast working on TRON: Legacy. I think one of the best things I’ve done in the movie is assemble such a great team. Everybody that worked on the film was incredibly passionate about the project and very excited to take part, even though it was a tremendous amount of work. We got an incredible amount of support from the studio and Disney – and it was a real pleasure to work with all of these incredible people. As much as I was looking forward to finishing the movie, I knew that when it was all over, it was going to be tough to return to life after TRON.

Can you talk about the theme of technology in TRON: Legacy?

JOSEPH KOSINSKI: I think that technology is definitely an overarching theme of the film. Technology is so pervasive in our world today, but what’s good about it? What’s bad about it? What’s important? I think it’s important to pay attention to the human connections that you have and not get lost in the digital world. I wanted that idea to be part of our movie.


How did technology assist in the making of the movie?

JOSEPH KOSINSKI: A film like this is all about collaboration and human connection – and technology helped us all the way through the process of making the film. You couldn’t make a movie like this by yourself. There were literally thousands of people working on the movie all over the world, including artists in places like India, Mexico City and Vancouver. I worked with a lot of the people through a purely digital connection over a conference call or cell phone connection or a video phone connection. Even though it’s a very high-tech film, my day to day work was all about communication with the people around me. I had to make sure everyone was working together and I had to keep the boat pointed in the right direction.

What new technologies or techniques were created to make the film?

JOSEPH KOSINSKI: We created cutting-edge suits, digital characters and we had the use of advanced 3D cameras for the making of the movie. We took three leading-edge technologies and combined them in one film in order to serve this story. When everything works together, you can make stunning images. It was a very challenging shoot, but I think it was worth it. I think we made the right choices to push the boundaries. I’m proud of everything we’ve done.

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

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