After years of reading about TRON: Legacy, you don’t have to wait much longer to see the film as Walt Disney is finally releasing it December 17. While I’m still under embargo from posting my thoughts, I’m allowed to post all the interviews I got to do at the recent Los Angeles press junket. So over the next few days, you can expect a bunch of print interviews with the cast. Then, the week of release, you can look forward to video interviews with the cast and filmmakers.
Anyway, the first print interview I’m posting is with Olivia Wilde. During the roundtable interview she talked about her reaction to seeing the film for the first time, the technology involved in making TRON: Legacy, how she came up with the look for Quorra (her character), how her career has been going over the past year, the merchandising, the training she had to go through to stay in shape for her costume, and a lot more. Hit the jump to either read or listen to what Wilde had to say:
Since many of you like reading transcripts and others like to listen to an interview, I’m offering two ways to get the interview with Olivia Wilde. You can either read the complete transcript below or click here for the audio.
Finally, here’s a link to all our TRON: Legacy coverage which includes on set interviews, movie clips, behind the scenes footage, and all the posters and images that have been released.
Question: How are you doing?
Olivia Wilde: We just had a ‘Tron’ family meeting.
What was decided?
Wilde: Lots of high fives all around.
Was that your first time seeing it last night?
Wilde: Yes, it was.
Having done so much press already what was your reaction while you were watching?
Wilde: It surpassed all my expectations. What happens so often as an actor is that you retain the information about the scenes that you yourself shot and you obsess over certain scenes that you found the most challenging or interesting. The rest of the film kind of falls away in your memory or it fades a little bit. So it’s been so long since I actually kind of read the script in it’s entirety, a good year or more. And being able to watch everyone’s performance, watch all the elements of the story come together, it was just extraordinary and I was blown away by everyone’s work. My reaction was like, ‘Oh, my God, everyone pulled it together. Everyone did things that they’d never done before,’ and for so many departments on the film it was so revolutionary. Being able to watch Michael Sheen’s performance, much of which I was not there for, was really a treat for me. Also, to see a lot of Jeff’s [Bridges] work as Clu, that was really exciting because of course that involved a lot of special FX in order to create the finished product. So I think that was probably the most astounding thing, just being able to see the entire picture together and realize how much hard work paid off.
Seeing what Jeff did as a performance, using the 1982 Jeff as a template, do you think about that, like, things that you do now might be re-purposed later?
Wilde: I think it’s such an interesting concept. I think my dream movie now is to take Clint Eastwood, Julie Christie, Vanessa Redgrave, Meryl Streep – take them all and put them in a teen comedy because now we can do that. It would be the most expensive teen comedy ever made but totally worth it. I want to see that movie. What I really realized last night while watching Jeff’s performance as Clu was no matter FX that they come up with to be able to make actors seem younger or older it’s still driven by the actor. The FX are extraordinary and Eric Barba’s team is incredible, but Jeff was driving that rig and Jeff’s performance is still what makes that character so compelling. It was sort of a relief to know, like, ‘Well, actors will still be needed to no matter what they come up with,’ even if we’re stuck in a booth somewhere hidden away. They’ll still need actors to drive these things and make them interesting. I just thought that’s an incredibly difficult thing to do and it’s such an art form in itself and one that’s new and unprecedented. So the fact that Jeff just brought an incredible amount of depth to that character is even more extraordinary knowing all the FX and all the extra work that went into it.
Wilde: I don’t think that I can escape that images of myself will be kept on a hard drive now. I think it’s inevitable. There is permanence to everything that you do now whether you like it or not. So it can be utilized in the future, hopefully for a good reason, but that is an interesting concept and we’re still cresting that wave. It’s still completely new and I think there’s only a few actors in this business who have gone through the process that Jeff went through. I think that he and Brad Pitt can really discuss the challenges of working with a head rig like that for face replacement. So it’s real exciting for all of us to be a part of that new technology and be able to share that experience and be a part of something so revolutionary.
Were you involved your look for this film?
Wilde: Yes. It was a true collaboration to create Quorra. When we originally started putting together ideas for her it was really kind of up for grabs because Quorra of course was not in the original film. And Joe Kosinski was very interested in making her unique and an unusual femme, or not even femme fatale, but a female heroin in this type of film that was unlike any other. So we worked very hard to make her very intelligent and powerful but at the same time childlike and nuanced so that she would not just be there as a kind of foil for the men, not just be eye candy. I think that she could’ve very easily, I think, with a different team that character could’ve easily turned into the temptress of the ‘Tron’ world. She could’ve just been this kind of sexy femme fatale. With a suit like that it’s easy to fall into that, I think, but because Joe was adamant that she not be that and because I worked very, very hard to create someone who was not that we were able to work together to create Quorra. We were very inspired by Joan of Arc. I brought the concept of Joan of Arc in very early on, about six months before we started shooting. I said, ‘Joe, I found Quorra. I figured her out. She’s Joan of Arc,’ because Joan of Arc was this unlikely warrior, this child who could lead an army. She was kind of unnaturally powerful and seemed to have this connection to another world, to a higher power, to be guided by something greater than her and by selflessness and that was Quorra. That combination of innocence and strength is unusual in characters.
So once we found this historical reference it was really fun to flesh her out, but Joe was completely onboard with that from the beginning, and that’s when you’ve hit the jackpot with a director, when they can be as excited about that stuff as you are. I remember emailing Joe at 3AM, again, six months before we started shooting anything and saying, ‘I figured it out. I was looking at ancient Korean Buddhist warriors and I think that Quorra is one of them and they fight with swords. So Quorra needs a sword.’ And the next day it was like, ‘Great. Quorra has a sword. We can work on that.’ So that’s part of the reason that I feel so proud of the finished product of Quorra, because so much hard work went into it, so much collaboration and so much love and I feel very proud of the way that she’s come out. She’s quirky and odd and I like that. Another reason I was so adamant about making so intelligent, as well as being a warrior, is because I really wanted her to appeal to the female audience and particularly young females. I want her to be a role model for young audiences. I want girls to feel inspired by her strength and her wit and her intelligence and her compassion. I think that it’s rare these days to have a female character in these types of movies that isn’t just there to look really sexy in a suit. Too often that’s what happens, and then you wonder who do these little girls dress up as for Halloween. When I was little we dressed as Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman represented social justice and honesty. Now I’m not sure who they dress up as. Although, this year, pretty cool, before the movie came out I saw a lot of Quorra’s walking around. So that was pretty exciting. But I really wanted Quorra to be appealing to both men and women and I feel very proud of how she’s turned out.
Can you talk about the Manga look and the talking about Joan of Arc I can see it in the hair –
Wilde: Yes. The hair was very inspired by Joan. We wanted something almost androgynous. She’s a fighter. That’s her purpose. Quorra. She’s there to protect Flynn. She needs to be able to move fast and so if she had long, flowing ‘Little Mermaid’ hair it would be very practical for her. So we wanted her to have the kind of slick non-organic look of the ‘Tron’ world, but at the same time be really practical and also good looking. We wanted it to be something flattering of course, but it was a process of going through several different wigs and designs. Again, Joe and I worked together very closely on that. As for makeup we wanted her to look different from the rest of the programs and she has a little bit more of human look, a little bit more texture, a little more skin tone, but she still has that very white, very pale look. The eye makeup, yeah, we had an amazing team. Rosalina Da Silva is the makeup artist who designed that look and it just seemed to make sense for her. As you notice, the Sirens were the other females in the film and they had these long, incredible lashes and they’re more just kind of unbelievably sexy and rocker chic in their makeup. We wanted Quorra to be a kind of alternative to that, still quite intense but not quite as glamorous. So it was a fun process to figure all that stuff out.
You have such a strong gay following –
Wilde: That’s great.
What do you think they can connect with in this film?
Wilde: I think that they’ll connect with much of the same things that everyone else will connect with, that it’s just a great story about humanity and about compassion. The message of the film is really that we need to remind ourselves of the beauty of human connection and of nature and pull ourselves out of devices for a moment and appreciate what it is just to be human beings. So I think that message is the same for everyone of all lifestyles. But it is also a true love story and a family story. Anyone who has a relationship, strained or not, with their father will really connect to this story because in the end that’s what it’s about. It’s about a son and a father finding each other again. I find that incredibly moving and powerful. I think beyond the special FX and all the beauty of this film that’s really what is at it’s heart and core.
Watching last night I sort of got some political undertones in the film –
She really believes she’s doing the right thing, having this war on imperfection. Do you get that now having seen the whole film?
Wilde: Yes, absolutely, and I saw it more than ever in the movie last night. I knew that was there in the script, but I was really excited to see, like, ‘Ooh, good. We have a little bit of a political slant.’ Maybe no one will notice but you and me, but I think the message, again, is that imperfection is beautiful, the idea of accepting flaws. The story is of a dictator who has ethnically cleansed this universe and what’s left is this desperate and miserable world. The message I think of course is that compassion, humanity and humility are important in our own lives as well as in politics. Again, that makes me think about how incredible Jeff’s performance was because to create a character like Clu who was this merciless dictator who really kind of sends chills up your spine as you think of maybe who he resembles in actual history, but I think it does have a message as well, a political message as well as one just about humanity in general.
Since you wrapped on this your career has taken an upward swing. Can you talk about the last year or two in your life and what you’ve been able to do?
Wilde: I feel like the luckiest person on the planet. ‘Tron’ was such a departure for me. Quorra was unlike anyone I’d ever played before and I got to create someone who was unlike anything anyone had ever seen me do before, out of anything I’d ever done before. So after that I was really excited about doing that again, about departing from myself again and transforming again because beyond the physical transformation of ‘Tron’ it was really quite a transformation on many levels. So it also piqued my interest in action as well as kind of adventure films and sci-fi. That’s something that I never thought that I would do. I never saw myself quite in that genre. It was such an exciting thing to be a part of it particularly because of the people who follow those types of movies. My experience at Comi-Con has been so incredible and so exciting. So after ‘Tron’ I was excited to do ‘Cowboys and Aliens’. That’s something that’s a very different film, and again, a huge departure for myself and a total transformation and I feel very blessed to be a part of that and everything in between. It’s been a really, really incredible year and every single thing that I’ve done has been very different from the last. Now it seems to all be bubbling to the surface. I’m very proud.
How do you like being turned into merchandise? Is this your first experience with that?
Wilde: This is my first experience with that. I don’t think there’s a little ‘House’ Thirteen doll, unless I’m missing something. There should be. It’s really quite odd. I like Carrie Fisher’s take on it. She’s such an incredible writer and actress and person. I don’t know if any of you have read or seen her one woman show ‘Wishful Drinking’. She talks a lot about the merchandise that came from ‘Star Wars’ including a blow up doll. I haven’t heard of any of those being created for Quorra, but it’s a funny out of body experience to see some miniature version of yourself on a shelf. Again, I feel so proud to have created this character and so whenever I see a little Quorra or I see a Quorra costume I just feel like this was something that we created together and it’s just been a very different experience when you feel like you’ve designed a character. Every part of her look and being is something that comes from the research that went into creating her personality and her history. So I’ve enjoyed that experience so far, but the second that I see a Quorra blow up doll I won’t.
Can you talk about your physical transformation for this?
Wilde: It was challenging. I was shooting ‘House’ while I was training for ‘Tron’. So I would wake up way earlier than anyone should ever wakeup and go and do a few hours of training a day that included cross training, cardio training, martial arts training. I mean a lot of what Quorra does in the movie is mixed martial arts. So that was something that I worked very hard on. We had an incredible stunt team called 87eleven. They’ve done a lot of the big films in the last ten years and they’re just extraordinary and I really appreciated that they gave me the confidence to do a lot of my own stunts. But they said, ‘You’re going to have to train for it,’ and I was completely open to that. I completely physically transformed my body. I have never looked like that before and I will never look like that again. It was important in creating Quorra to transform myself physically because once I understood what it was like to be able to fight and to have those kinds of muscles and to have that strength it changed the way that I walked. It changed the way that I stood and I suddenly understood what it felt like to be able to protect myself which I’d never really felt before. It was the first time that I realized how important that physical training is to creating a character beyond just the aesthetics.
Were you relieved to stop training?
Wilde: Oh, yes. It was such a relief. I couldn’t wait. The entire time we were shooting ‘Tron’ I was planning my meal on the wrap day.
What was it?
Wilde: Well, I’m married to an Italian and so it was all about the pasta and the wine. I couldn’t wait. I would just dream about my giant plate of pasta while we were on set. On these big films you’re so lucky to have the best trainers in the world teaching you how to fight. Everyone in their department is the best of the best. So it’s such an honor to have them focused on creating something for you to maximize the impact of your character. So you have to bring your focus and your energy and never complain because it’s such an honor to have these people working on you to turn you into a little warrior. It was quite an honor.
The costume is so sculpted to you, does it pose problems as the training goes on and as you get leaner?
Wilde: Well, the thing about these costumes is that they don’t stretch. So certainly once we had our last fitting it was like, ‘Okay. This is the size of the costume now.’ Just so you know it can’t change. It’s not like we can do a little adjustment on this one. Each suit was a sculpture. It was such an intricate piece of craftsmanship. So you couldn’t say, ‘Oh, they’ll get me another one. Maybe they can let this out a little at the seams.’ So there was a certain dedication to the suit, a relationship that we had to have with our suits, both good and bad. But of course over four months of working you fluctuate physically and of course you train and train and train for a movie and then once you actually start doing the movie you don’t have time to train. Luckily I survived and was able to stay in that suit just until the last second.
When you were a teenager did you prefer science fiction stories over romantic stories?
Wilde: I’ve always been a fan of science fiction. My family, we all used to watch ‘Star Trek’ together which is kind of a nerdy family activity. But as far as reading science fiction I think that Jules Verne was probably the extent of my science fiction literature in my library. I was much more into romance as a teenager. It’s been a kind of new discovery for me to learn about sci-fi adventure and it’s an honor to be a part of it. I think it’s a really interesting genre and it’s all about the imagination. It’s boundless what you can do in these stories. So when you have a creative team like we did for ‘Tron’ you can just exceed all expectations and all boundaries of the imaginations and it’s just kind of a beautiful thing to be a part of.
When are you back on ‘House’?
Wilde: Oh, I can’t think when but soon.