Get ready to reenter the Grid.
“Tron: Uprising,” the new, visually stunning computer-animated series from Disney XD, returns to the luminous digital world first glimpsed in Disney’s groundbreaking 1982 science fiction film “Tron," and more recently in "Tron: Legacy."
The new animated series explores another corner of the exotic electronic landscape created by programmer Kevin Flynn and ruled by his digital doppelganger Clu (both played by Jeff Bridges in the films). This time, the story reveals how innocent programs in other sectors have their lives overshadowed by Clu’s dictatorial reign, and how the defiant Beck is recruited by the original digital gladiator Tron to stand against the overlords of the Grid.
Once again, the rich mythology of "Trom" has lured an all-star team of collaborators for a new round of lightdisc-throwing and lightcycle-jumping adventure. Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis, the screenwriters behind “Tron: Legacy” and creators of ABC’s “Once Upon a Time,” serve as story architects and executive producers, with former “Samurai Jack” storyboard artist Charlie Bean directing and producing, while the voice cast includes Elijah Wood (“Lord of the Rings”), Mandy Moore (“Tangled”), Lance Henrickson (“Aliens”), Paul Reubens (“Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure”), Tricia Helfer (“Battlestar Galactica”), Emmanuelle Chriqui (“Entourage”) and the original Tron himself, Bruce Boxleitner.
PopcornBiz download a debriefing from the “Tron” team:
Adam Horowitz: We want this show to stand on its own, yet at the same time feel a part of the franchise, and to welcome in new fans who never had anything to do with ‘Tron’ before and are experiencing it for the first time, and also to reward all of the fans who’ve been enjoying the original movie, "Legacy" and everything about the franchise.
Edward Kitsis: We want them to come down the electronic rabbit hole with us.
Elijah Wood: I knew of 'Tron' when I was kid, but I didn't see 'Tron' until I was an adult. There was an initial teaser before they made 'Legacy’ – that's when it first jumped into my consciousness, because it made me remember that there was this Disney film 'Tron,' from when I was one year old. I remember the video game. If you're at all a nerd and into that world, you're going to cross paths with the lore, so I just knew of it. 'Legacy' was when it really came into my consciousness. I saw that film and was completely blown away by it. I loved it. I thought that they handled the world really beautifully and expounded on it really beautifully.
Kitsis: As writers you always want to dig deeper. When you have two hours, you have two hours, and we were always obsessed with ‘What’s going on with the other sectors, and how are they feeling?’ For us, this was an opportunity to dig deeper and tell the story of the overthrow of the Grid through the eyes of a program. And also, ‘Legacy’ was Flynn’s story, and this is kind of Tron’s.
Horowitz: In a broader sense of what we’re trying to do as writers, it’s that classic hero’s journey of finding out there’s something special about yourself and rejecting it at first, refusing the call, and ultimately finding a way to accept it and embracing your destiny.
Wood: I was really intrigued at the notion of doing an animated series in the space of and the universe of the Grid and of ‘Tron,’ particularly that there were people involved with the expansion of the universe in 'Legacy' that were also involved in this. Also, that it was going to take place chronologically between the first two films: I found that really exciting, that there was connective tissue with the mythology, that it was rooted in things that had already been established, so it gave it an air of authenticity and integrity. And then I came and I saw the conceptual art and some of the early tests of the animation and I was just totally blown away. It was unlike anything that I'd ever seen in an animated program. It kind of looked far more cinematic.
Emmanuelle Chriqui: When I read the material for the audition I couldn't believe that it was animation. I couldn't believe it. The dialog was so good. The characters are so good. It's so rich. I was like, 'Really? This is animation?'
Local news from across Southern California
Then we asked each of the stars to give us a sense of their characters:
Wood: Beck’s life and his friends lives – the lives of all – are being put at risk, so I think it's that he's feeling like he's helpless. That kind of ticks something off in his mind about taking a stand. He kind of does this very cavalier thing and he cuts the head off of the statue and throws a bomb in it and it explodes – and he gets away with it, basically. But I don't think he's really even thinking or projecting into the future about what that could potentially mean. It's an act of defiance, an act of rebellion that ultimately leads him face to face with Tron, who then says to him, 'Well, I've seen what you've done. You have the makings to be my predecessor.' Initially Beck doesn't believe that. He's a mechanic. He's an everyday individual. He has relatively special abilities as a mechanic and as a light cycle rider and as someone who can play disc games well, but certainly no Tron. But he hears what Tron has to say and hears his belief in him and takes the mantle, albeit reluctantly, initially.
Kitsis: Beck does what he does in the beginning out of anger, and that gets the attention of Tron. Beck’s journey is coming to terms with the fact that he maybe is more than his programming, that he is a little special. And a lot of people fight what’s special about them because it’s a lot easier to be like everyone else. That’s Beck’s journey, and being a hero is a part of that. Those are the kinds of things Tron has to teach him.
Moore: Mara is sort of one of the guys, and she's also the kind of voice of reason. She's really good at what she does, and so it's not like she's dragging the team down by any means. I think as the series sort of progresses, too, she sort of comes into her own all the more and starts to assume this leadership role and this quality that I don't think she even was aware existed within her.
Lance Henrickson: Tesler is the personification of self-doubt, power-hunger and megalomania. When I say self-doubt, I mean that everything frustrates him. If somebody doesn’t do what he wants, it frustrates him and he wants to de-res them. That’s what power does: it makes you drunk. The cause is power. ‘I’m going to live this thing until it blows up in my face.’ He wants to be Clu, but he’s not smart enough. He’s more like an institutional dud, a general that just doesn’t have that intelligence to go that one step further.
Chriqui: Paige is such a badass. She's so complex and cool. She's categorized as a villain, though I don't play her as a villain. I think she's just deeply misguided. She's very passionate about what she does, and she's very driven. It's just that she's working for the wrong side. I think that's really interesting because you just get the sense that there's something going on under her very icy exterior.
Paul Reubens: Pavel is a hideous, horrible, throw-you-out-in-front-of-the-bus-in-two-seconds, watch-your-back kind of guy, probably the most dangerous type of person because he’s jealous and feels like not appreciated – and that he’s better than his contemporary, Paige, and his boss Tesler.
Helfer: With the Grid, the first session was kind of the most important for figuring out who it was. Everyone said ‘Okay, we want this voice to be just this pleasant kind of voice.’ We tried it a few times, a little bit more sultry, a little bit more straightforward, and what we finalized on is this very pleasant kind of OnStar voice, which can kind of be disconcerting. That’s sort of the character to me of the Grid: you’re in a train crash and she’s got the exact same inflection in her voice as she does when she’s welcoming new programs to the Grid.
Bruce Boxleitner: ‘Tron’ makes me stay a kid. I like it now more than I did when I did the original one. The original one was a job, it was great, I got to know Jeff Bridges – I admired his work. But the job ended, I hung up the tights and I didn’t think anything of it...But later, I was doing a lot of science fiction conventions, and 85-90% of the people walking up were all about ‘Tron’….It’s less a surprise than an absolute joy, that what I was thinking was happening was actually happening, in that it had resonated – and not just a couple years later, because Tron came and went, but somehow later on. Well into the next decade, toward the end of the 80s and all the way through the 90s, when suddenly we had computers and all these things. I think it went right along with the advance of these media in the computer world, which ‘Tron’ kind of predicted in its nice, sweet naïve way in the movie. The Age of Information came racing ahead, and we actually in a way predicted it – not all science fiction does that, but we actually had a future that we’re living.