Welsh actor Michael Sheen has appeared in such films as Underworld, The Queen, Frost/Nixon, and The Twilight Saga: New Moon. He also appeared in TRON: Legacy as Castor/Zuse. Walt Disney provided this interview with Sheen:
AN INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL SHEEN FOR TRON: LEGACY
What was the initial inspiration for your character in TRON: Legacy?
SHEEN: When I first talked to the director – Joseph Kosinski – about my character, he showed me lots of art work to illustrate what they were looking for. They wanted a character that would be able to bring a completely different energy to the world of TRON. They wanted someone who was larger than life and a real showman. Castor is a guy who runs a nightclub, so he’s an entertainer and a host. He knows everything and he’s ambiguous in lots of ways. Joseph talked about characters like the MC from Cabaret, which got me thinking about Bob Fosse and All That Jazz. All of these things inspired Castor.
How did the character develop?
SHEEN: Slowly, I started to think about the idea that all these beings on the grid in the TRON world are computer programs, so I wondered what sort of program my character would be. He’s someone that would be able to adapt to anything that comes along. He’s a survivor, he’s a circus showman, he’s adaptable, and he’s a comedian. It made me think about people I knew in pop culture who are chameleon-like and take on different personalities at different times. David Bowie is exactly that person, so I came up with a Ziggy Stardust look and feel to Castor. I ended up regretting it when I found myself walking around in 6-inch heels for days on end. However, it was a great character to play.
Apart from the heels, was it fun to wear Castor’s costume?
SHEEN: The days of going to the bathroom were long gone in that costume. Once it was on, that was it. I couldn’t sit down, and I had to have a special bicycle contraption on poles to lean against when the cameras stopped rolling. It was tough and it took me hours to get into that costume, but there was a lot of enthusiasm on the set that kept the energy levels high. There was a great atmosphere on the set. We could’ve complained all day long about the uncomfortable nature of the outfits or we could get on with it, so we choose to get on with it. To be honest, I think this attitude trickles down from the top. Garrett Hedlund [who plays Sam Flynn in TRON: Legacy] had to wear an amazingly constrictive outfit, but he was so enthusiastic about everything and he was so eager to work that it rubbed off on us all. He loved meeting everyone involved in the project and he loved being a part of this monumental movie, so it made us all realize how grateful and excited we should be.
Did you ever get close to complaining about your 6-inch heels?
SHEEN: No, I was fine. I think it also helped that most of my scenes were with the actress, Beau Garrett. It helped a lot to have Beau standing near me in her crazy outfit for most of the day. An outfit like that can get you through anything.
What are your memories of the original TRON movie?
SHEEN: I watched the first film in Wales when I was 11 years old. A friend of mine took me to cinema and I remember it blowing my mind. I was the perfect audience member because I remember the movie having an effect on my life as soon as I left the cinema. I was taken into another world while watching the movie, but when I walked outside, the world looked completely different. You know what? It’s mind blowing to think that I’m starring in the sequel 28 years later. It’s crazy.
What attracted you to the sequel?
SHEEN: When I read the script, the first thing that came to my mind was, ‘This is really good.’ It’s such a classic story about a son who goes looking for his father. It’s a human story and I think that’s really important in the high-tech world of TRON. As a fan of the original movie, I knew it was going to be a futuristic adventure and I knew the amazing effects were going to blow everyone away, but I also knew that it had to have an emotional story. I think it delivers that and so much more.
What went through your mind the first time you saw footage from the finished film?
SHEEN: I loved it. I was blown away by the special effects and I would get excited about each new bit of design that I hadn’t seen before. However, the footage that had the biggest impact on me was the scene where Kevin Flynn meets Sam. I love watching Jeff Bridges act. He’s brilliant. But to see him there with Garrett really hit me in the heart. I really believed that this was a father and son meeting up again. It’s an amazing scene.
Did you enjoy working with the special effects in the movie?
SHEEN: I didn’t have to work with too many special effects, although I worked on a scene where Jeff Bridges portrays a younger version of himself. That was pretty amazing. I had to act against Jeff, who was wearing a helmet with cameras pointing at his face. They would then replace Jeff’s face with a younger version in post production. How incredible is that? It was like a dream come true to work on something like that. This film really pushes the envelope in terms of what you can do with technology. The motion-capture, the costumes, the special effects… It all blew me away.
Did you have any green screen scenes?
SHEEN: Not really. Most of my scenes were in the nightclub, which was a real set. Everyone else had spent weeks in front of green screens, but I went old school on a proper set with hundreds of extras. It helped my character a lot because he’s very energetic and dynamic, and walking onto a set is very similar to walking onto a stage. He’s a showman, so the stage is his home.
How do you think the new generation of children will react to the world of TRON?
SHEEN: I honestly believe that this film delivers everything you could possibly want to see as a kid. I don’t think I’d be sitting here talking to you now if I didn’t believe that. This movie takes you on a classic journey to a magical world and it delivers on so many levels. It has incredible special effects and it has a human, emotional tale. The minute Sam Flynn puts that coin into the arcade machine and heads through that door you think, ‘Wow!’ It opens up a whole new world to the audience; a whole new world everybody is going to love.
Tron: Legacy (Two-Disc BD Blu-ray/DVD Combo) is Available on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, DVD and Movie Download April 5th!