November 21, 2010

Newcomer Garrett Hedlund Dazzles in “TRON: LEGACY”

Young actor Garrett Hedlund stars as Sam Flynn in Walt Disney Pictures' new high-tech 3D adventure “TRON: Legacy.” In the film, Sam – a rebellious 27-year-old – is haunted by the mysterious disappearance of his father Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), a man once known as the world’s leading video-game developer.

When Sam investigates a strange signal sent from the old Flynn’s Arcade—a signal that could only come from his father—he finds himself pulled into a digital world where Kevin has been trapped for 20 years. Father and son embark on a life-or-death journey across a visually-stunning cyber universe—a universe created by Kevin himself that has become far more advanced with never-before-imagined vehicles, weapons, landscapes and a ruthless villain who will stop at nothing to prevent their escape.

At 18, Hedlund made an auspicious motion-picture debut in the pivotal role of Patrocius, the young cousin of Achilles (Brad Pitt) in Wolfgang Petersen’s “Troy.” He talks about “TRON: Legacy” in the following interview:

Q: What is the human story at the center of “TRON: Legacy”?

Garrett Hedlund: At the core of it, it’s a father and son story. My character, Sam, has been without his father for 20 years, and he finally gets to find out where he’s been. Although Alan Bradley, his father’s partner, has been there for Sam, he’s always wanted to know what became of Kevin Flynn. And in “TRON: Legacy,” he finally gets to do that.

Q: How has the overall world changed inside “TRON” ?

Hedlund: The world of the original “TRON” was fascinating, but what they've added to the world in “TRON: Legacy” is a grander sense of geography. There are lightning storms and the weather, and there are also the cliffs and the mountains. Add to that the off-grid terrain where a lot of these vehicles can’t perform, and it’s an incredible sight to fathom.

Q: Talk about the light cycle.

Hedlund: The new bike is incredibly flashy and cool, and it’s much more dangerous. It’s faster and it doesn’t have to move in 90 degree angles. It has a lot more tricks.

Q: What did you do to prepare for the role of Sam?

Hedlund: The benefit I had on this film was going through an intense amount of training, not just for the physical benefits, but overall, for the character. I had training in Capoeira and parkour, and motorcycle training. But basically, when I step into playing that character, all of those skills have to be ‘new,’ from day one. The first moment Sam gets into this world, he doesn’t suddenly know how to do all of this stuff. There have to be the slight mistakes that he overcomes, and learning from that. Like the disk game sequence—there is something very unfamiliar with everything that he has to do, from the rules to the skills. He’s got to observe and the wheels have to be constantly turning in order for him to excel. When he sees another program ‘de-res,’ he thinks, ‘Well, I can’t let that happen.’ He has to find it within himself to become that hero. He has to have the strength and the defensive skills to keep proceeding from one level to the next.

Q: What was the hardest part of shooting?

Hedlund: You know, everybody always likes to talk about how difficult it is working with blue or green screen, dealing with just the imagination. But this film actually, to our benefit, there were a lot of grand sets, so we didn’t have to pretend so much. We had a lot of the physical things, such as the disks and the swords. When it was blue and green screen, we had great direction from Joseph Kosinski, the wonderful director, because he knew exactly what he wanted to do with what we were just approaching. When we were reading it from the text, we may have had a foggy notion, imagining what it could be, but he was always ten steps ahead of us. It was a game of trust, and we were never let down.

Q: What is your memory of the original TRON?

Hedlund: My memory of the original starts off with a very energetic and youthful Jeff Bridges, smiling and laughing. He had this crazy youthful side to him, in comparison to how we see him now, as the wise, older and incredible actor that he is. In the very first “TRON,” he’s a mad wiz with all this new technology that deals with the creation of video games. He’s also been perfecting a shiva laser, which ultimately ends up sucking him into the computer in the same fashion that Sam is in the beginning of “TRON: Legacy.”

Q: What about the original film inspires such a following?

Hedlund: I think from the original it was Jeff’s character Kevin Flynn getting pulled into the game grid and going on all of these adventures—it was incredible to imagine. Having to fight his way from one level to the next to complete the objective and find his way back out…it really was unlike anything else.

(Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Philippines, “TRON: Legacy” will open across the country on Dec. 17 in IMAX 3D, Digital 3D and regular formats.)

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