In 1982, a director named Steven Lisberger tickled a generation’s imagination with a movie called TRON. Looking back, the predictive power of the movie is astounding. Who could have imagined that 30 years later, we would be living in our own Troniverse, a reality fraught with light speed communiqués, digital farm maintenance, and Facebook integration? We will immediately posit this question to 600 friends with a status update.
We got a few minutes to chat with Garrett Hedlund, who plays Sam Flynn, aka Son of Jeff Bridges in the new TRON sequel. After being sucked into “The Grid” by the same laser that digitized his dad in TRON v. 1.0, Sam finds himself on a mission to rescue his pop, who has been imprisoned in the computer world for twenty years.
What was your initial reaction upon finally seeing the sequel?
Speechless. So thrilled and proud and just excited for everyone to see what [director] Joe Kasinski did, and Digital Domain, and Darren [Gilford] the production designer, all these guys worked so hard, and I’m so proud of every one of them.
How do you create a real character in a digital world?
It starts off in the real world. Sam was so affected by the disappearance of his father, and you got the abandonment issues there. You come from real life on that. It’s key for Sam’s qualities to be real in a technological world, and the story has to be there as well. This being a movie of a son searching for his father, that’s the jugular of this whole thing. Now you’re in this world of the unknown, trying to overcome obstacles and get out.
You do feel the strength of that father/son relationship. What did you and Jeff Bridges do to fall into that dynamic?
We arrived in Vancouver a couple weeks before we started shooting, and we all sat around a round table—me and Jeff and Joe and Olivia [Wilde] and Sean Bailey and Justin Springer and the writers, and we’d go through the script and improvise and rehearse some scenes, see if there was anything we could add or not. And there, we would talk to one another, talk about life, literature, music and spirituality. And Jeff is so inspired by all of these things and so wise on all of them as well. He’s such a unique person. Such a brilliant actor, every day, he was. He never ceased to inspire me.
What was it like working with Joe Kasinski, a first time director?
Joe was incredible. I’m excited for everyone to see what he did with this. It may be his first feature, but he knows his way around the set. Joe Kasinski doesn’t seem like no first time director. In my opinion, he’s the next great visionary of our time.
You trained in capoeria and parkour. What's it like doing that stuff in a spandex onesie?
It’s different! It’s different than training in basketball shorts and a t-shirt. The training was really special. It was at this facility called 87eleven. I was working for this guy David Leitch, who had coincidentally worked on Troy with me, choreographing the fights. To go through the journey with him, the capoeira and parkour, doing the weight training with [trainer] Logan Hood and the motorcycle—it was fantastic. I’m glad it was them, that group over there is very talented.
Tell me about your experience watching the original 1982 TRON.
I saw it for the first time when I was 18. I got a kick out of the young, energetic Jeff. Having filmed with the present Jeff, I wish I could hang out with the both of them at the same time. I feel like we could have a great deal of laughs.
It’s great what [TRON director] Steven Lisberger created. Who can really predict where we’ll really be in terms of 10, 20, 30 years of technology? It’s crazy.
What’s it like to hold an action figure of yourself?
It's cool! Yeah. A pal of mine from high school had a baby. My mom gave him a Sam Flynn action figure, and I thought that was really special, that was really neat. Other than that, it’s just a tool for my brother to make fun of me.
Are you filming On the Road right now?
Is it more pressure for you to do a big budget tentpole film like TRON or to tackle a more classic character like Dean Moriarty?
I don’t know. In terms of every film I do, I always try and work harder than I have before, and on this one, it’s been a lot of work. Everyone’s been really delivering, man. It’s such a great experience. Walter Salles is so incredible. I’m very blessed to be a part of it.