AN INTERVIEW WITH JEFF BRIDGES FOR TRON: LEGACY
How did the film shoot for TRON: Legacy compare to the film shoot for the original movie?
BRIDGES: The first movie was shot in 70 mm, black and white. Our set was mostly made from a black material called Duvetyne that was hanging on the wall along with some white adhesive tape – and that was it. They sent the film overseas where people hand-tinted all of the glowing lines into each shot frame-by-frame. It was a mammoth undertaking and it was extremely cutting edge. However, the process for the second movie was completely different.
Can you take us through the filming process for the sequel?
BRIDGES: TRON: Legacy was the first movie that I’ve been involved in where many scenes were shot without cameras. We used a process called motion capture and we shot the movie in a space called The Volume. The Volume can be any size, but the walls are covered with optical sensors. They’re not cameras, but each sensor gives information to a computer. To begin each scene, we had to stand in the shape of the letter T. You stand with your hands out and the sensors grab you – and then you carry on. You’re wearing a suit with little sensors all over it, so all of the makeup, the costumes, the camera angles, the lighting… Everything is added in post production. It was very different to anything I’d worked on before.
Were there any similarities between the shooting of the two movies?
BRIDGES: The biggest similarity between the filming of the two movies was the way that you have to act a lot with your mind. We spent a lot of both film shoots in huge rooms with no sets, so you have to imagine where you are and you have to imagine what’s going on in the scene. It’s always a challenge, but it’s also a lot of fun.
What do you think of the new light cycles in TRON: Legacy?
BRIDGES: I think they’re great. They are much better, more sophisticated and more refined than the light cycles in the original movie. [Director] Joseph Kosinski was an architect, so he came at the project from a new angle and the film has a heightened design feel to it due to this. He hired a wonderful production designer called Darren Gilford who worked in car design, so that also added a different element to the project. I’m really impressed and happy with all of the vehicles in the movie. I think they all look great.
Did it take a lot of persuading to get you on board for the sequel?
BRIDGES: Not really. Joe Kosinski made a wonderful pitch to me about the story of the movie, so I knew where the film was heading and I was immediately intrigued. This is Joe’s first film and I have to give Disney credit for taking that risk in choosing him, but he pulled it off with ease. He has a background in commercials, so when he pitched the story to me, he showed me his commercial reel and I saw the technology that was available to use in the movie. I signed onto the original TRON because I was excited about using cutting edge technology, and that’s exactly the same reason why I signed on for the sequel.
What was it like to play two different characters in the movie: Kevin Flynn and Clu?
BRIDGES: It wasn’t too difficult. The director did his best to separate the days where I played Flynn and Clu, which made the work much easier. The makeup process was very different for each of the characters, so it was much better to separate the days and keep these two apart.
What was it like to see a younger version of yourself in Clu?
BRIDGES: It was a little bizarre, but it wasn’t too strange for me because I have movies that chart my different looks over the years. However, I was amazed that they could pull off this feat with such accuracy. What they did in TRON: Legacy was amazing. They modeled Clu on the period of my life when I worked on Against All Odds – and it all looks so real. The guys who worked on it are magicians.
Did you have any input into the look of Clu?
BRIDGES: I helped in any way I could, so I gave them a lot of family pictures to use as reference. The same guys who worked on Benjamin Button came in and worked on Clu. When they first arrived, they brought along Brad Pitt’s head in a glass box and they set it down on the table. It was uncanny. It wasn’t like a wax head that you might see in a museum. In fact, it looked like Brad Pitt’s head had been cut off and it was just sitting there. You were waiting for him to, “Hi.” It was so realistic.
What inspired your performance of Clu?
BRIDGES: My inspiration came from the script and the story. That’s always the place where I start my work on a character, but then I look at aspects of myself that might apply to each character. In this case, I’m playing a couple of guys, so I would magnify certain aspects of myself for one and maybe dampen those for the other.
Video games and arcade games are constantly featured in both TRON movies. Are you a gamer?
BRIDGES: I don’t play video games much now, although I remember playing one with my daughters. I believe it was called Myst. I hope they make a movie of that game because it was a wonderful world to visit. You weren’t killing anybody in the game, but it was very dramatic. That was the last video game I got into.
Were you interested in arcade games in your youth?
BRIDGES: I think I was a grown man when arcade games came into fashion. I can remember playing Pong, but that wasn’t in my youth. I played Pong on the movie set where I met my wife, which must have been 35 years ago. That would’ve been the 80s and I was working on a movie called Rancho Deluxe with Harry Dean Stanton. I distinctly remember playing Pong there.
Were there many arcade machines on the set of the first TRON movie?
BRIDGES: When we filmed the first movie, Steven Lisberger – the director – had video games all over the soundstage and I used to get locked into them. Have you heard of a game called Battle Zone? I used to love that. They had to tear me off of that thing to get to work.
We can’t let the interview end without mentioning your Academy Award win for Crazy Heart… Where do you keep your award?
BRIDGES: It’s sitting on the shelf by my kitchen.
How did it feel to win?
BRIDGES: It was truly wonderful. To get that acknowledgement from your peers is fantastic, but the really cool thing was that the movie was all about music and it’s caused my own music to bloom. I’m in my sixties and I’ve been working on music since I was a teenager, but I’ve had to put it in the back burner. However, I’ve now been able to go back into the studio and make an album. That’s amazing for me. I couldn’t be happier.
TRON: LEGACY is Available on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, DVD and Movie Download April 5th!