This weekend Joseph Kosinski will pick up where Steven Lisberger left off nearly 30 years ago when he directed Tron. The sequel Tron Legacy has been infused with new blood both in front and behind the camera. Kosinski is one of the most sought after up and coming directors and he has a lot riding on Tron Legacy’s release. With so much pressure hinging on one project, when we interviewed him we made sure to ask the important questions. Check out our interview…
This is your first major feature film and it’s a special effects bonanza. Did your background in architecture help you with directing?
Joseph Kosinski: I went to an architecture school where rather than giving us graphite pencils and T-squares and the traditional drafting things they gave us the same digital tools that Digital Domain and ILM used to do movies. I came out of architecture school with a fluency in digital tools and I saw a career as an architect slaving away on blueprints for penthouses in New York or working on my own and having the ability to create short films basically by myself. And that was a really exciting opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.
What were the specific tools you used that you learned in school?
JK: I used all those kind of critical skills of architecture school. Learning how to create a project from the ground up and the importance of a guiding idea or theme. Informing all your decisions along the way, learning to be self critical, and applying them to filmmaking. I think for me at least it seems like a really interesting angle to come at it from.
Out of all the young actors in Hollywood, what was it about Garrett Hedlund that made him the one to play Sam Flynn?
JK: Well, if you meet Jeff [Bridges] and you meet Garrett, you see why Garrett was the right choice for the role. He has a lot of the same qualities that Jeff has and that was important for this movie. It was essential that you really feel like Sam Flynn really could be the son of Kevin Flynn and Garrett feels like he could be Jeff Bridges‘ son. They just have the same kind of personality, qualities, charm, self-confidence, sense of humor, and the physicality. They actually look like they could be related and that was important.You felt that kind of connection between these two.
Even though the film features two attractive female characters, there’s no love story brewing between either of them and Sam. Was that intentional?
JK: The love story of our film is the love between a father and his son. That kind of had to be the priority and that’s the story that we wanted to tell in this one. It’s only so many love stories you can cram into one film, but the father son story was really what this film was about and the possibility of love between Sam and Quorra is a nice possibility but I think it’s best left that way.
Throughout all of the ads for Tron Legacy, Olivia Wilde’s character Quorra looks like a sex pot but she’s actually the exact opposite. Wilde plays her like a wide eyed child, with a kick-ass streak.
JK: She was able to kind of capture that. There’s an innocence and there’s a strength to her character, which is just as important. I think Olivia did a fantastic job of tapping into that. She can act with her eyes.
Was Clu always the villain of choice for this movie? Was a new character ever mentioned as a possible bad guy?
JK: I think the writers had that idea from the very beginning. They didn’t know if that was even possible to pull off. I knew that David Fincher was doing Benjamin Button at the time and David had shown me some of the work he was doing on that movie so I knew that the technology existed. So once I told the guys that I think we can pull this off, we all agreed that it was the storyline that was worth pursuing because it was a relationship and a type of story that we didn’t think had ever been done before. That’s what was exciting to us about it.
You guys kind of mastered the de-aging technique with that character…
JK: I don’t know if I’d use the word “mastered” we spent a few years working on Clu. It is the most challenging thing I think you can do in visual effects.
One great thing about Tron Legacy is it’s a stand alone movie. You don’t have to see the first one to get what’s going on. How did you find a way to balance the content for the new viewers and the cult fans?
JK: We had to assume that people would walk in knowing nothing. We spent a lot of time trying to figure out how much information we could kind of bombard you with within the first 10 minutes of the movie.
How can you tell if a film needs or deserves a sequel?
JK: I think it’s just looking for a good story whether its connected to something or not. We felt that there was so much potential from where the first one left off and so much material to mine from. This one felt like a great opportunity to do something cutting edge and different.
What do you think of the state of Hollywood filmmaking right now?
JK: I think there’s a good mix out there now. You have films like Inception which is a completely original idea, and hopefully a film like ours where there’s a reason to go back and revisit these characters and see what’s happened since the last time we saw them.
Tron Legacy opens in theaters everywhere December 17, 2011.