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Garrett Hedlund Talks About 'TRON: Legacy'

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Garrett Hedlund Sam Flynn Tron Legacy Poster

Garrett Hedlund as Sam Flynn in 'TRON: Legacy'

© Walt Disney Pictures
Garrett Hedlund had a scheduling conflict and couldn't actually make it to Los Angeles for the press day for Walt Disney Pictures' much-anticipated TRON sequel, TRON: Legacy, but thanks to video conferencing, Hedlund was still able to talk about his involvement in the action film. Hedlund plays Sam Flynn, the son of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) who goes out in search of his missing father after discovering a strange signal originating from Flynn's Arcade. Sam's investigation pulls him into the world of Tron where his father's been stuck for the past 20 years.

Hedlund was a fan of the original TRON, even though he never got the chance to see it until 2003. "I saw it when I was filming my first movie. I saw it in Malta, on the island of Malta in the Mediterranean. Also, it’s kind of unfair because I grew up on a farm. You’re not going to get TRON on the farm. We got Roseanne and Cheers. That’s all I got to see, so I was aware of it ever since 2003. It’s just funny to see young, energetic, maniacal Jeff running around and explaining his visions of technology and computers and games. A guy with a plan that was really insistent. I wish I could have hung out with that guy. Luckily I got the wonderful, incredible, wise Jeff Bridges, who he is today, but it would have been fun to hang with him for a day then."

On the challenges of real world versus CGI stunts:

Garrett Hedlund: "Well, the jeans and jacket one I promise I felt more comfortable in. The stunts like, say at the beginning of the film on the crane, that you wouldn’t really know was almost more real than you’d imagine. We were up on this crane on a stage, I was about 50-60 feet off the ground. You’re attached by a tether that’s about a 125 pounds test. But you don’t want to test it. It’s too high to test it. You’re at the end of this crane and the security guard gets up there, so I’m going backwards and up and down. The fear is real."

"In the 3D world, a lot of the stuff seen in 3D, it really just jumps out at you. That was great, seeing the suits. And the fact that we shot this in real 3D with these incredible cameras, they’re the next generation after the Avatar cameras but with those lights and everything going on in the background, it’s just fantastic. I just saw it an hour and a half ago and I’m still in shock."

Does he play video games?

Garrett Hedlund: "I don’t really play many games. I like chess. I like backgammon a lot. Backgammon probably more than chess, but I’m not the most technologically-driven person. I don’t do Myspace or Twitter or Facebook and stuff. I don’t have all the new gadgets that are out there. That doesn’t fill any hole that I’m trying to make whole. But that was the thing that appealed to me the most in that script was that this was their life and this was their world, in terms of being driven by these things. The extremity of that I think is what drove me to it, to do something so completely different. In terms of Sam Flynn, the wheels are always turning figuring this thing out from one level to the next to survive and overcome the obstacles, to find my father and maybe go home. It’s a big difference, I guess, from where I am."

On representing what's happened in the world since the first TRON:

Garrett Hedlund: "My approach to it was really sort of you’ve got a guy that his father left 20 years ago. He lived with the grandparents and the grandparents passed away. There’s a lot of abandonment issues and yeah, maybe in our world, there’s a lot of abandonment. Maybe that’s where I kind of brought it from. It’s a teeter totter between forgiving and forgetting. You’ve got to forget and forgive, forgive and forget, whichever order and go on with your life. This is right at the brink of where, even if you reminded me of my father, I wouldn’t have made a single effort to go find him. But this is right at the brink where there’s still a little bit of hope mixed with curiosity, peppered with curiosity and that’s the emotion of that there."

"In terms of the world now, I think you see he’s got this cool storage home, man. I wanted to walk away with that. But he’s more of a secluded individual, an adventurous technologically-driven but also independent and in an independent state. That’s that. In terms of ENCOM and the real world, Sam had turned his back on all that stuff. I think you come in as a person who’d turned his back on the today world and sort of became much more independent."

On working opposite a younger version of Jeff Bridges:

Garrett Hedlund: "In terms of what we were looking at, we had a lot of blue screen but we’d also have these wonderful practical sets that were so incredibly symmetrically designed. That comes from Darren [Gilford], our wonderful production designer and Joseph [Kosinski’s] vision streaming from a background of architecture. A lot of the times we were looking at a laser pointer...I gotta be honest."

On Sam's relationship with Quorra, Kevin Flynn's confidante played by Olivia Wilde:

Garrett Hedlund: "I thought she was great. Oh, man. You come into a home and you find your father and you see that this is somebody that he sort of groomed and trusts and is trying to advance his knowledge of every world, this world, the grid world and the real world, getting her to read all the literature of the great minds that have pushed the stone in the real world. She never really ceases to surprise him. If he’s in trouble, she ends up saving him and having his back. But also there’s a naivety to her that’s so cute at times you can’t help, if you were in the same position, you’d have the same sort of attraction in a way to this mind and finding out what it’s about."

"Ultimately, she’s incredibly talented in the physical aspects of fighting and what she’s been programmed with and what Kevin Flynn gave her. And also in terms of what they said in the film, she would save the world if she was in the real world. That’s the quality she’s got."

On his approach to starring in a sci-fi action film set in a fantastic world:

Garrett Hedlund: "I guess I always take them pretty serious. Me and Olivia would watch the original Tron in the trailer between scenes sometimes and realize how fun that one still was. How fun they made that world of unbelievability. It makes you want to be there, so we had to kind of remind ourselves to keep that with us in this one. Days would get long but you owe it to everyone to add this sort of humor and you kind of want to make people jealous of where you are, so you can’t be miserable."

"I was going to say in terms of what we see on the blue screen, the laser pointer might have been an understatement. Joe was always so 10 steps ahead of us. We had the pre-vis to look at as well. That had been accumulated before filming to pre-visualize the whole film, but Joe was always so far ahead. He explained everything. We would step onto [the set], you could already see it. We didn’t have to really work very hard after his explanation of what we were looking at to see it. We could see it in our heads. I see it. Joe’s the reason we were able to see what wasn’t there."

On how it feels to throw a disc:

Garrett Hedlund: "Well, it feels like it feels to throw a disc. These ones are just a little heavier. They had all these lights and all the mechanics that went into making them. They weren’t the lightest discs in the world and if you got hit by one of these things, you probably would de-res, man. There was one take during the disc games where the video village, where the director, DP and producers are all over there by the screens. They set up this netting for me that was the size of the barn. Just the camera right in the center down low, I’d dance around it and we’d have a go with improvising. The prop guy would toss you a disc and you’d react and then you’d do this so they can add one, maybe do a shoulder roll and throw one. I ended up throwing my last disc and the thing wouldn’t let go of my finger. It went off this way and my whole tent is right here, video village over there and it starts going straight towards the video village. I’m yelling and I’ve got this visor on so it’s like I’m wearing glasses without the prescription so I’m a little cross-eyed. They can’t see. They’ve got their glasses on and they’re watching the monitor and I’m like, ‘Joe, look out! Claudio, Claudio!’ The disc comes and Joe probably looked like this, ducked down and Justin Springer, the producer is on his laptop right here, took the disc right to the head. It was take 37. They were just watching the screen and they were just like, 'Oh wow, this is real 3D.' It’s coming right at them. So we had little things like that that kept everybody’s energy/fear up."

Up Next: On the Road based on the Jack Kerouac book.

Garrett Hedlund: "[...] When I was first reading with Walter Salles for it, I was back on the farm. I’d flown up to Minnesota...I got a one way ticket because nothing was going on in L.A. I hadn’t worked for a while as it was. I was just going to go up and help my old man on the farm. As soon as I landed, they said, ‘You know that film you really like, On the Road? They want to meet you this week.’ I was there and I got to go over my stuff while driving on the country roads with one of my pals there that’s been my pal all along. I got to rip off the monologues to him while seeing the [spring time], the new corn fields are coming up and you can see the silhouette of the car grazing across the fields. The sun’s kind of going down. That’s where I wouldn’t have been able to do this, I wouldn’t have understood anything if I hadn’t grown up on the farm. That life and the hard work has enabled me to understand a lot more than I feel I would have if I had grown up in a city. I probably would have just been lost."

* * * * *

TRON: Legacy hits theaters on December 17, 2010 and is rated PG for sequences of sci-fi action violence and brief mild language.

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