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Olivia Wilde Discusses 'TRON: Legacy'

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Olivia Wilde Quorra Tron Legacy Poster

Olivia Wilde in her Quorra costume in 'Tron: Legacy'

© Walt Disney Pictures
Olivia Wilde stars as a female warrior named Quorra who's a confidante of Kevin Flynn (played by Jeff Bridges) in TRON: Legacy, an action adventure film from Walt Disney Pictures. Wilde wasn't even born yet when the first TRON hit theaters back in 1982, but she's extremely excited about being a part of the long-awaited sequel.

"TRON is one of those movies that you feel you’ve seen when you haven’t, because it appears so much in cultural references that it’s sort of woven its way into the cultural fabric of this society," explained Wilde at the film's Los Angeles press day. "Showing up in things like Family Guy or all sorts of different things, even through Daft Punk and understanding that they were referencing TRON with their whole aesthetic. So I hadn’t seen the entire movie but I felt I had, so when I watched it I was like, 'Oh, this is TRON! This is the story!' I was really blown away."

On getting familiarized with the world of TRON:

Olivia Wilde: "First of all, I watched it before I went and met Joe [Kosinski] and Sean [Bailey]. That was a good move. But I was really blown away by the risks they took with that movie. For me, the original TRON is this weird experimental film that Disney agreed to pay for. I just can’t believe they let Steven Lisberger make this crazy, cool film that’s completely out there and unique and not trying to be like anything before, and certainly nothing after has been like it."

"It’s very ambitious in the questions that it asks and the language that it uses. Using terms like 'bit' and 'program' - for Bruce [Boxleitner] and Jeff that was foreign to them. They had to kind of embrace this terminology and pretend that they were these programmers who would understand this lingo and understand this world, of the computer. Now, because of the way technology has taken over our lives, we have a much closer relationship to technology and all of those terms are a part of our daily lives. But for them it was just very ambitious to create this world that people were very unfamiliar with. But I think the questions it posed are still very relevant today, and it’s a natural progression to have the Legacy film be 30 years after the original. Because the original film not only asked questions like, 'What would happen if technology took over our lives?,' but it was using technology that had never been used in film before. It was the first film to ever use CG; it was revolutionary in so many ways."

"This film is asking the question, 'Well now we know technology is taking over our lives, what do we do with it now? How do we recover from this? How do we harness all this power we have created, for good? Can it be done?' We must remove ourselves from our devices for a moment to appreciate humanity and nature and family and all the things that we can lose sight of when we become too obsessed with this other world that we’ve created, this cyber-universe that does exist in our daily lives. But also, the technology is once again able to be as revolutionary as it was in 1982, and that’s why I think it’s an appropriate amount of time to have passed between the two films."

"I think if you tried to make TRON: Legacy 10 years ago it wouldn’t have worked because technology wouldn’t have swung back to the point of being as revolutionary and groundbreaking. Again, we’re using four different types of filmmaking technology in TRON: Legacy that have never been used before, simultaneously. And that makes it as mind-blowing as the original was in 1982. So I’m really happy that Disney waited this long to be able to have that kind of impact. I’m also happy because it meant I got to be in it. But I think it’s an interesting kind of phenomenon, to have these two films."

On creating her character:

Olivia Wilde: "The creation of Quorra was a collaboration between me and Joe. I really was lucky to have a director like Joe Kosinski, who was as focused on the creation of these characters as he was on the visual effects, which everybody knew would be stunning. Very early on, about six months before we started shooting, I called Joe and said, 'I know who Quorra is. She’s Joan of Arc.' He jumped right onboard. We agreed that she was Joan of Arc because Joan of Arc was was this unlikely warrior, this child who led an army who had this very rare combination of strength and innocence. She seemed to have some sort of connection to a higher power, a foot in another world, and was led completely by compassion and selflessness. And I thought, 'That’s Quorra. These are all elements of Quorra.' Before finding this historical reference in this character, I couldn’t figure out how to make all these things jive and work together."

"That also came from a desire on our part to not have Quorra just be a temptress, a vampy, sexy thing. It would have been so easy for her to be that, with that suit and the sexy world of Tron itself. It would have been easier to just let her be the temptress of the Tron world and slink around like a cat. I thought that was just redundant; the suit itself is sexy. She doesn’t need to be led by her sexuality on the inside. I thought it’d be much more interesting if she was sexy despite herself. She’s a warrior, so she’s very athletic, but she has no desire to seduce and she doesn’t use that as her power. She’s incredibly optimistic and innocent and childlike, and almost everything she’s learned has been from Kevin Flynn introducing her to human literature and history."

"My favorite line in the film, for me it exemplifies who Quorra is, she’s showing off her library and she says, 'Jules Verne is my favorite. Do you know Jules Verne?' And he goes, 'Well, yeah.' And she goes, 'What’s he like?' When we figured out that line sometime in pre-production when we were doing rewrites, I thought, 'That is Quorra.'"

"She is surprisingly childlike and naïve, and I think that creates an interesting dynamic with Sam, who is initially taken aback by this kind of bad ass in a four-wheeler who shows up, saves him and puts him in her light buggy and takes him off-roading. And then she’s there bouncing around asking him about Jules Verne, and it makes it an interesting mystery for him, to have this quirky character suddenly in his life."

"I also thought, 'Who would you be if you lived in a cave with Jeff Bridges for 200 years?' Hanging out with Jeff for a minute you suddenly have this optimism and joyful spirit that you didn’t think you’d had before. He just spreads his good energy to everyone, and I thought that’s something that she would have learned. He is her creator, her mentor, and so his perspective is very much hers. With some added weirdness of Quorra in there."

"But I’m very, very grateful that the entire creative [team] was so supportive of her just not being a sexy character. Even the creation of the look of Quorra... After I discovered the Joan of Arc connection, I asked if she could be kind of androgynous. I kept saying, 'The sirens are so sexy! You don’t need any more really sexy girls. You’ve got them in the movie! So maybe she could just look like a boy!' Silence. Like Disney thinking about it, 'Hmm…' And then they came back and said, 'Yeah, we get the reference. If you want to make her this kind of unusual character and not have this long flowing hair that often these characters do' – which I never understand... I’m like, 'Don’t they have to fight? Isn’t their hair in their face?' They said, 'That’s cool. If you can create a great look for Quorra that fits your definition of her, then that’s great.' And we all collaborated and discovered her. I’m just so proud of her."

Is Quorra aware of her sexuality?

Olivia Wilde: "No, I think she is oblivious to it. I don’t think she’s ever been in touch with it, and I think that’s a part of her. Meeting Sam (played by Garrett Hedlund) for the first time is when she’s suddenly awakened to that kind of sensation of, 'Oh, I like him!' She’s never really had any romantic relations before and I think she develops this enormous crush on Sam throughout the movie but never acts on it and never even knows how to express it. In my own mind, she’s slowly falling in love with him."

"But no, I don’t think she’s aware of her sexuality and how it may show through her physicality at all. That suit for them is armor, and it’s not like she’s in her little Tron world mirror trying on different suits and seeing how it makes her physique look best."

On Quorra's sexy walk:

Olivia Wilde: "Stuff like that, with the walk – that really came out of my training when I was training very hard to learn the martial arts necessary for the film and to get myself in physical shape to be strong enough to play Quorra. Once I got to that point and I suddenly had muscles and I was suddenly very strong, I thought, 'This is how Quorra stands. This is how Quorra walks.' I really discovered her through that physical transformation."

"It often happens with actors that you put on your character’s pair of shoes and suddenly you know who they are. For me it was carving her out of my very weak body and finding her strong self within me through all this hard work. So in her walk and the way she moves and the way she sits on a couch, it’s not like she’s trying to be sexy. It’s just the way she is, the way she’s the most comfortable. It’s just so wonderful that no one ever said to me, 'Can you try to make that look sexier?'"

On Quorra as written in the first script:

Olivia Wilde: "It was up for grabs. When I was cast, Quorra was still kind of being formulated in the minds of the writers. It was something they were trying to discover through whoever ended up being her. And that’s why from the very beginning they were so collaborative. We had many script meetings and discussions with Sean Bailey, our incredible producer who was very creatively involved, and we would all discuss who Quorra was and how and what she had learned from Flynn, how she would react to Sam. Through all these discussions we figured out who she was."

"Of course, like all of these giant movies, you never have a script and it’s all you and your imagination when you’re trying to get the role. So you’re trying to get this role and you don’t know anything about the role, you just know this is for TRON – and that’s the coolest thing ever. And I meet these incredible people, Sean Bailey and Joe Kosinski, and they show me the teaser footage that they had shown at Comic-Con and I’m like, 'That’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. What’s the character?' The elements of her that they were sure of at that point were that she was going to be unique, she was going to be incredibly intelligent and very, very strong, and driven completely by her heart. Once we knew that, it was kind of simple to fill it in, what kind of person that would take. But I knew immediately just from meeting them and understanding their direction for the film that it was something I absolutely wanted to be a part of."

On working on the video game:

Olivia Wilde: "Video games have come such a long way and the relationship between video games and film has created a way to maximize the experience of the film, to expand the story beyond the film. A lot of the work I did on my backstory appears in the video game. That’s kind of extraordinary."

"I have had no experience with video games. I’m not really a gamer. Now I’ve come to appreciate the world of gamers and how far technology has come in video game production, but it was all new to me. So being able to be involved in the process of creating the character of Quorra for the video game, which is a younger version of her before many significant things have happened to her, was like being able to make another film. It was another really exciting process of creation. But it was also new to me [to learn that] video games are taken so seriously now that the performances in video games are reviewed! I was like, 'What, really?'"

"I kind of imagined that I would just be there and it would be like, 'Press the green button if you would like to shoot your gun.' Honestly, the last game I had played was Duck Hunt. I had no idea what had happened with video games, so when they brought me in and said, 'Okay, this is the scene where Quorra is discussing what’s happened in the war and this is the most emotional scene in the video game,' I said, 'Emotional scene?? What has happened?' This is such a new world, and it was so much fun because I got to play. But it’s a whole new thing that actors are getting to participate in."

On incorporating the backstory for the film and using it in the video game:

Olivia Wilde: "I had created that backstory for her for the film knowing what historically had happened in the world of TRON and between the two films. And once they asked me to do the voice of Quorra and create her again for the video game, I had all this backstory at my disposal. So that was cool, to be able to use all the research I had done. Often you do all this backstory research and have pages and pages of notes and never look at them again, so I got to go back to them and say, 'Oh, great, I can actually use these to create Quorra of the video game.'”

On doing the video game without having to get into the Quorra costume:

Olivia Wilde: "I’m glad that I was able to finish the film and understand what it was like to feel like Quorra before creating her for the video game. I think so much of becoming a character is putting on the equipment of the character – in this case, the armor of the suit and the wig. Each element of Quorra that was placed on me each morning would bring me closer to her, and it’s very useful to have physical triggers that get you to where you need to be for the character. So for the video game I just had to close my eyes and remember what it felt like to be her and to be as strong as her, because I certainly wasn’t anymore."

"But the entire process of it has been so much more than just making a film. It’s been an incredible collaboration of creating a character and being part of an entire world of TRON that’s reaching such a wide audience. It’s just such an honor to be a part of it."

* * * * * * *

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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