Olivia Wilde on Becoming TRON Legacy ‘s Quorra

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Though audiences still have more than two months to go before TRON: Legacy‘s December 17th release, anticipation for the long-awaited sequel is steadily mounting. Taking a quick break from the fever pitch of post-production, Disney hosted a special early press day to show off completed footage and to offer a behind the scenes look at the still-growing world of TRON.

Though she may be best known for her ongoing role on “House,” Olivia Wilde’s big screen future is getting more prolific by the day, including upcoming roles in Cowboys & Aliens, Butter and The Change-Up. In TRON: Legacy, Wilde plays Quorra, a woman from within the Grid who becomes apprentice to Jeff Bridges’ Kevin Flynn.

Wilde spoke with CS about Quorra’s unique Joan of Arc-inspired look, her expansive backstory (which becomes the focus of the spin-off video game, “TRON: Evolution”) and the three-year journey of bringing it all to life on the big screen.

Check out the full interview below, click here to read our previous conversation with Garrett Hedlund, and check back soon for a talk with Sean Bailey, TRON: Legacy‘s producer and Disney’s new Head of Production.

CS: Not to spoil the footage we’ve seen today, but it is the first time we’ve seen your character interacting with Kevin Flynn. Can you talk about that relationship?
Olivia Wilde:
Quorra has been taken in by Kevin Flynn. Almost like an adopted daughter, but she’s also his eyes and ears on the Grid because he can no longer leave his safe house. She is his protector at the same time she’s being his student. They spent, in “TRON” years, hundreds of years together. She has learned everything she has about the User culture through Flynn. He has created endless libraries of literature for her to study. She’s become completely obsessed with the User world. Human history. Human literature. Everything about the world. The sun, which she is very curious about. She asks Flynn, “Tell me about the sun.” I think what you saw a little bit of in today’s clip was her kind of apprentice relationship to Flynn. There’s a real love there so, when his son arrives on the grid, she feels an immediate responsibility towards him and fascination for him.

CS: Can you talk a little about stepping into this video game universe?
Wilde:
It was incredible. Once I saw the test footage that you’ve probably seen that they did three years ago for Comic-Con, I understood a little about how Joe [Kosinski] wanted to create the TRON world. The stark landscapes and the slick black surfaces and the lights. I thought it was a really interesting way to update the look of the original “TRON.” To reimagine it without losing what made it interesting and cool. So my first meeting with Joe and Sean [Bailey], they showed me the footage. This was maybe six or seven months before we shot the movie. I thought that it was probably the coolest thing I had ever seen. When we were on set shooting the movie we had great practical sets. Beautiful practical sets. Designed by an incredible team. Joe has also been an architect, so that was really helpful. I don’t know if I mentioned this, but we got him a T-shirt for his birthday that said, “Kubrick Schmubrick” because he had this Kubrickian kind of aesthetic. But a few elements kind of helped me grasp what the “TRON” world was. Even with green screen, we had to be able to imagine what was beyond the walls. It was the test footage that they showed us and the sets they built and all the illustrations they showed us, plus the Daft Punk music – understanding the cyberpunk aesthetic that Daft had woven into the score was going into the landscape itself. So whenever I found myself in a moment of doubt and lost track of what the tone of the scene was, what the feeling of the world was, what the feeling of Clu was because, of course, we couldn’t see Clu. If I lost track of how terrifying he would be, using the Daft Punk music that Joe always had on his laptop on set was really, really helpful.

CS: Beyond the sets, are there a lot of scenes with chromakey? Were there a lot of scenes where you’re in a full costume and everything is blue all around you?
Wilde:
No, everything wasn’t blue. We had amazing practical sets. Like the safe house? That looked exactly as you saw it. That white set and the white room? That was all built. That was all there. Incredible. The floor that lit up when you stepped on it was actually there. It was shocking. And really, really beautiful.

CS: Have you become a gamer at all after being immersed in this world for so long?
Wilde:
I’m definitely more appreciative of gamers and their world and their talents. I didn’t know a lot about it before. But since I’ve been going to Comic-Con and since I’ve been introduced to more of the gaming community, I’ve learned a bit more. As a kid, I was into video games, but literally the last game I played was “Duck Hunt.” So it’s just come so far and I kind of lost track of the technology because it changes so fast. We’re shooting “Cowboys & Aliens” now and we’ve been shooting for four months. Everybody on the movie is really into “Red Dead Redemption.” Daniel Craig had it and I tried to play it and was just hopeless. Video games have just become way more advanced than I can handle. I just have a tremendous amount of respect for the people that really understand them.

CS: Have you had much experience or interaction with fans and the people that are already dressing as Quorra?
Wilde:
I’ve seen photos. People have sent me photos from conventions. My brother-in-law is an illustrator for video games and goes to all these conventions like WonderCon and all the other different ones. He sent me pictures of Quorra costumes. I’m really flattered that people want to be Quorra before the movie has come out. They don’t even really know who she is, but they know there’s something about that look that they like. I have a feeling that, at next year’s Comic-Con, we’ll see a lot more Quorras. Because she’s a really compelling character. I think it’s going to be exciting for people that like this sort of thing.

CS: Who came up with the hair?
Wilde:
The hair was a team effort. But Joe and I discussed, very early on, having an almost androgynous feel to her. Of course, we couldn’t go as androgynous as, at one point, I would have liked to go. I was really inspired by Joan of Arc so, at one point, I really wanted her to have very close-cropped hair and almost look like a little boy. But that doesn’t work quite as well for the entire picture. But we both really like the idea of this non-organic texture. Of this inky-black color and the asymmetry that mimicked the rest of the lines of the movie. If you think about the entire look of the picture, the suits mimic the lines of the city and the hair and the shapes that are painted onto people’s faces. Each element really shared this consistent design philosophy of that non-organic kind of symmetry. I think that, once we had Quorra locked down, we went through several different wigs, several different designs. Once we figured her out, we really started finding out how she matched the rest of the population of programs. So it was exciting to be involved in that creative part of the process.

CS: You talked a little about the backstory. Is that something we actually see or are we just told?
Wilde:
Yes. Well, hmm? How much do you really see? You’re told quite a lot. There’s not too many flashbacks. What’s actually kind of cool is that the video game goes into Quorra’s story. The video game is really her story. It really is her story and it’s a way for people who see the movie to be able to flesh out their experience. Which I think is really interesting. I hadn’t realized – I mean, I knew that games and movies were working in tandem, but I didn’t realize how interesting it could be and I love the idea that it’s almost this addendum to the movie. It’s this experience where, if you like Quorra in the movie, you can go spend a hell of a lot of time with her in the game. I really enjoyed making the game as well. That was really fun.

Q: So what are your thoughts on the “TRON: Evolution” game?
Wilde:
I really like what they’ve done. I like seeing Quorra at a younger age. It’s kind of interesting in terms of my performance in the game. I didn’t just recreate who she is in the movie. It was about trying to figure out who she was at the time that the game is taking place. So it’s almost like trying to reimagine her and it made me glad I had done so much work on her backstory because it was suddenly very useful. But I really appreciate the level of work put into video games these days and that video games are actually evaluated based on commitment to performance and reality. It’s a lot of pressure. I’d say, “It’s not like ‘Duck Hunt?’ They don’t just bounce across the screen? Will they have a little orange gun?” But it was really exciting. A whole new medium for me. But my favorite part of the game was doing the lines that you said when a person leaves there controller and goes out of the room for a little while to, like, get a soda from the kitchen. The game starts talking to you. That was my favorite thing. It was like, “Hey! Don’t give up so fast! Come on back!” All that stuff I thought was very funny.

TRON: Legacy hits theaters and IMAX in Disney Digital 3D on December 17.