Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Bruce Boxleitner Talks His TRON Legacy, Part 1

Actor Bruce Boxleitner has one of my favorite last names.  He has had a long career and appeared in several television series, including one of my favorite, the Raiders of the Lost Ark-inspired Bring 'Em Back Alive.  In the original TRON, Boxleitner played two roles, Alan Bradley and the security program named Tron.  Boxleitner reprises the roles in TRON: Legacy and plays two new parts.  Disney has provided this interview with the actor:


How would you describe the story of TRON: Legacy?

BRUCE: TRON: Legacy is the sequel to TRON. The story of the sequel is set in real time, 28 years after the first movie. We revisit some of the characters from the original movie, including Kevin Flynn and Alan Bradley, and we revisit the world of Encom. We also meet Kevin Flynn’s son, Sam. Ultimately, the story takes us back down into the world of TRON where much of the action was set in the 1982 movie. However, it’s a different world now. It’s a darker, more violent and dangerous world down there.

What can you tell us about your character in the movie?

BRUCE: I return to play Alan Bradley in the sequel. Alan is the storyteller who bridges the past to the present. There’s a lot of history that needs to be told about the world of TRON and not everyone watching the movie knows that story, so Alan does that at the beginning of the sequel. He passes the torch onto Sam Flynn, who is the new hero of the movie. I guess Alan is the Alfred to Sam’s Batman.

What makes you choose that analogy?

BRUCE: Well, Batman always needs Alfred to remind him of who he is and where he came from. Alfred is also Batman’s conscience. Alan is similar because he’s the surrogate father to Sam Flynn. Alan’s best friend and creative partner – Kevin Flynn – has been missing for 15 years, so Alan has looked after Sam and has always kept an eye on him. Both of these guys, Sam and Alan, are wounded people because of the disappearance of Kevin. They’ve had no closure on Kevin’s story. They don’t know where he is; they don’t what happened to him. Is he alive? Is he dead? They have no idea. Both of their lives were altered seriously because of his disappearance.

How has Alan Bradley changed since the first movie?

BRUCE: Over the years, Alan has been a very successful man. He is currently the CEO of Encom, but he’s not respected within the company. His colleagues tolerate him in the boardroom, but he has no say because Encom has turned into something that neither Flynn nor Bradley envisioned. It’s a shocking change to where Alan was 28 years ago. He’s now a broken man; he’s a lost soul. He wanders the corridors of Encom wearing nice suits, he drives a great car and he makes a great paycheck. However, he has absolutely nothing to do with the company. That frustrates him. He’s nothing like the nerdy tech you saw in the original film.

What’s your favorite scene in TRON: Legacy?

BRUCE: Shooting the seminal scene between Alan and Sam at the beginning of the movie really stands out for me. We filmed that scene in Vancouver and we spent all night outside a really cool freighter container house, which is where Sam lives. I think every young guy is going to want to have a home like that. It was amazing. I love this scene in particular because this is where the human side of the story really comes to light. It’s the human story that makes the movie stand out. TRON: Legacy is not just about special effects and computer wizardry; it’s got a heart.

Was it easy to play the father figure to Garrett Hedlund’s Sam Flynn?

BRUCE: It was very easy because Garrett is a wonderful actor. I have three sons myself, so it was very natural to act out those scenes and relive being a father. In fact, I have a Sam Boxleitner. He’s a couple years older than Garrett, but that’s why it felt especially real. It felt like I was talking to my own kid and Garrett looked at me like I was his daffy uncle. That’s the way it struck me anyway.

What was your biggest challenge in working on TRON: Legacy?

BRUCE: Portraying Alan Bradley again after 28 years was one of the challenges. What is this man now? What’s happened to him in this interim? I was fascinated by where these wonderful writers had taken these characters. However, I guess my biggest challenge involved the motion capture work on TRON: Legacy.

Can you take us through the motion capture process?

BRUCE: It was very technical. I had hundreds of dots placed over my face and I wore a helmet with cameras pointing at my head. The extras had no idea what was going on, but the dots were used as reference points for the amazing artists on the movie. They created a younger version of my face from 30 years ago. In fact, the same crew who worked on The Strange Case Of Benjamin Button worked on TRON: Legacy and you get to see Jeff Bridges in his 30s again, too. The work they did was amazing.

What else did you have to do for the motion capture process?

BRUCE: After filming finished in Vancouver, I had to go and have my face scanned in Los Angeles. The rig was immense. It was like walking into a UFO. I pulled every kind of facial expression you can possibly think of for the special camera set-up. The cameras captured every angle and every aspect of my face. They captured every aspect of my muscle movement. It was astonishing.

Was it very different to the special effects work on the first movie?

BRUCE: You know what? I look at how far effects have come since we shot the first TRON, but it’s not like we were in the Stone Age back then. We were state of the art at that time. We’re still state of the art with TRON: Legacy. It’s just moved forward a great deal.

What advances in technology did you notice on the set of TRON: Legacy?

BRUCE: Well, the suits are much cooler in the new TRON movie. For the first film, I wore tights with magic marker drawings on them, as well as a hockey helmet and motor cross armor. I was also throwing an actual Frisbee. I didn’t have that cool-looking rainbow disk that they throw around in TRON: Legacy. However, I’m sure that the thoughts going through the minds of the cast on both TRON movies was exactly the same, especially when shooting the scenes set on the grid. Everyone has the feeling that they are making something different and something cutting edge. Everyone feels that they are working on something state of the art. That feeling remains unchanged.

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

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