We had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Tron himself, Bruce Boxleitner, about his role in TRON: Legacy, the new Disney Tron cartoon, and why he feels that Tron is a story that feels more relatable to our modern age than Avatar was.
We met with Boxleitner for a one-on-one interview after he and Michael Sheen (who plays Castor in the film) had done joint round tables with the press.
Bruce Boxleitner: Now that we don't have Michael (Sheen) we can talk. Michael is a lot of work. He's got a lot of energy. He's also terrific, and by the way. I would never tell him, but I am in total awe of him.
Screen Rant: Well, now it's on the record (laughing).
BB: Ah well, I am in total awe of him. I think he's one of the finest young actors we've got. He's gonna do Hamlet, I think that's going to be a heck of a thing.
SR: Well how about you? What are you working on now?
BB: I won't be doing Hamlet (laughing). I've been doing a lot of television again. Nothing right now, delightfully – I've had a really busy year. I've got two TV movies coming out, one I don't know where it is, one is going to be on the Hallmark Chanel. So, I just do whatever comes along.
SR: Haven't you also done some work on the Tron cartoon that's going to be on Disney XD?
BB: Yes, I'll be doing Tron again on that, with Elijah Wood and a whole bunch of other people, I think even Pee Wee Herman is going to be in it. Yeah, we did that, we did a pilot for it. We've only done the pilot so far, we won't start again until January.
SR: What is the cartoon like in comparison to the film?
SR: Does it exist fully in the world of the grid, or does it go back and forth between the grid and our world?
BB: It's more of the grid world, or at least the pilot was.
SR: So we'll see Tron but not Alan?
BB: You are going to see Tron but not Alan, correct. I don't know that we won't see Alan – who knows.? Ed and Adam [Ed Kitsis and Adam Horowitz – the writer's of TRON: Legacy] are writing that as well. They're all over this thing, the two writers on this picture. You'd think Lost was enough.
(Ed Kitsis and Adam Horowitz were both writer's on the television series Lost as well.)
SR: So does the cartoon take place within the same time frame as TRON: Legacy?
BB: I heard that it stands alone in that same world. You know, other than what we did, I don't know how related it is to the plot line of this film with Clu and everything. I don't know about that. It's called Tron: Uprising; and it is sort of a rebellion led by a young program that I train (the older Tron) to sort of take over. It's like The Mask Of Zorro, the older Zorro, Anthony Hopkins, trains him to take over his persona.
SR: And who are you all rebelling against?
BB: I think it's probably Clu. I am not quite certain, because they were only little half hour stories.
SR: What about Tron 3?
(When we spoke to Steven Lisberger during the Tron Night event, he told us that Tron 3 was in development; however by the time the press junket for TRON: Legacy rolled around, producer Sean Bailey and the rest of the Tron creative team would only say that they were hopeful, and would love to do a third Tron, but were waiting to see what the audience response to TRON: Legacy is. As Bailey said “late at night over pizza and beers, things come up” but nothing definitive has been decided.
BB: God, I don't know. Let's hope this one does well enough. I think they'd like to do another one.
SR: Well it looks like there is a possibility for a return of the character of Tron, yes?
BB: Sure, and also in the game world, you can just be rebooted, and come back. I mean certainly Clu does not represent the Clu of the first movie. He was originally this kind of goofy aberration of Jeff's character. He was lighthearted, and this is a much different one. He got rebooted into a different type of character.
SR: Speaking of being rebooted, what was it like to see that much younger version of yourself? To essentially go back in time?
BB: I thought he had a nice haircut. Nice kind of hair...You know, it's sort of a strange thing. If you asked yourself the same question – I mean, I don't really know what to say about it, other than, well, they got my nose right. I know it was not easy to do for them. They had a lot of photos, they certainly the original Tron. I asked, I said 'If you have any left I'd like some for my own collection'; so they gave me doubles of the photos they were using. I also did motion capture – now this was really bizarre – there is a sphere of lights that you sit inside, and you have these things on you, and you just make all kinds of facial expressions – scream, laugh, move your mouth, and there are all these cameras recording all of the movement. It was the same outfit that did Benjamin Button, which I thought was very successful.
(You can see how some of the motion capture sequences were created in our behind the scenes footage.)