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Q&A: 'Tron: Legacy' Director Joseph Kosinski

Tron Legacy
"Tron: Legacy"

Tron: Legacy hit Hollywood on Saturday night under blue laser light, amid platinum-haired “Sirens” parading amongst guests drinking “Trontinis” at the Hollywood & Highland ballroom afterparty.

(One of those milling about was Tom Cruise, who was also at the premiere of the original Tron, back in 1982.)

Legacy takes the first movie and sets it as backstory, focusing on a son looking for his father and finding himself in the digital world of the Grid.

Jeff Bridges is back as computer programmer Kevin Flynn and computer program Clu, playing a contemporary and 1980s version of himself, a visual feat that will likely ripple into other movies soon enough. But it was that kind of envelope-pushing technology that got him to return to the world of Tron 28 years later.

“The same thing that brought me to the first one brought me to this one,” he told Heat Vision. “I wanted to explore the latest technology the industry had to offer. It's weird to think you can make a movie without a camera, which is what we did with this movie a lot.” 

The man behind the movie is Joseph Kosinski, a commercial director with an architecture background making his debut as a feature director. Heat Vision nabbed him for a few quick questions.

Heat Vision: How do you feel now that the journey is nearing its end? It's been over three years.

Joseph Kosinski: I'm very proud of the team. A movie like this takes thousands and thousands of people to put together.

And I've been talking about this for three years, either pitching it to the studio or talking to press about it. So it's nice to be able to let the movie go out there and speak for itself and I can go out there and hide.

I don't think I've totally comprehended yet. I finished the movie on a Wednesday and started the junket the next day, and went on the road for two weeks. I just got back from Mexico last night.

Heat Vision: When you were pitching this initially, was it hard to convince the studio your vision, especially considering how visually intensive this is?

Kosinski: In the very beginning, the studio's line to me was, “We want you to push us. We need to be pushed.” To say that to a director is the most powerful thing you can.

I did that test piece first. It played at Comic-Con in 2008. That was my pitch to the studio basically. I had a little bit of money to make that over six months and I showed to them and they were excited.

We somehow convinced them to show it at Comic-Con which, when you think about it, is pretty crazy. I remember thinking, if we don't play well, this project will be dead in the water.

But luckily it did.

Heat Vision: The studio has put everything, the entire company, behind this. Does that put pressure on you?

Kosinski: Of course it does. It's a bigger bet. It's not just a movie, it's the ride, it's the toys, it's the TV show, it's the video game. But I think for something like Tron, they saw it as a way to hit all those areas.

And we built the film to do that, sharing all the assets across all the divisions. So to me it's about making it consistent. So when you play the game, it feels like the movie.

From the very beginning, Sean and I made sure to be very open to all the divisions as we were building. It's how you make a big movies these days. You have to prove you can work across all those divisions.

And no one does it better than Disney. It's pretty astonishing when you see the power of this company get behind something.

Heat Vision: Are you going from this to Oblivion as your next project?

Kosinski: Right now we're working on the script. Doing some general meetings [with actors]. Nothing specific. I want to get the script in great shape. But things are looking good.

What I'm excited about is that Oblivion is the opposite end of the spectrum. It's sci-fi but it's a love story, and it's a completely different aesthetic. It'll be mostly in-camera, we're talking about shooting in some incredible places around the world. For me it's going to be 180 degrees in terms of the kind of movie it is. It'll be exciting to shift gears and get off the grid for a little bit.

Heat Vision: Pun intended.

Kosinski: [Laughs]