Tron: Legacy’s Sam Flynn seemlessly adjusts from being a thrill-seeking corporate agitator to a light-disc-tossing digital gladiator when he’s uploaded into a computerized reality. And Garrett Hedlund, the actor who plays him, is proving to be equally adept at navigating new worlds, switching from action-oriented fare like Eragon to dramas like Country Strong and the upcoming film adaptation of the literary classic On the Road. Hedlund downloads the details of learning parkour, base jumping, and what he thinks about getting his own action figure.
Movies.com: This kind of highly technical performance required you to use your imagination and envision how it was going to look in the end, rather than seeing how it would look as you filmed it. Was that hard?
Garrett Hedlund: I wouldn't say that it was easy by any means. You're always searching for what you want, and also for what [director] Joe [Kosinski] wants. If there's an understanding there, it can really lighten the load a lot, I feel. But Joe was always 10 steps ahead of everything, so he described the portrait for you or described exactly what was going to happen to where you could actually see it. He was very good at this and that really lightened the load.
Movies.com: When you got to see the finished film and all its effects, did it seem like you were just watching a movie that Garrett Hedlund just happened to be in?
Hedlund:In a way it did, yeah, because I've had a couple of pals with me that were seeing it for the first time as well. We just watched this morning here in Montreal and you kind of start rooting for Sam to succeed.
Movies.com: Just how good did you get at the physical part of the moviemaking process?
Hedlund:I guess I have a pretty good deal of coordination! The parkour stuff was really fun and it took time to get down, but it's such a cool skill to have. You just want to go to a park and start leaping over things for no reason except just to do it. The other stuff, it was kind of necessary for the suit. The suit fits you to a T and it had to look like it was a part of you. So it was very important to maintain the training.
Movies.com: Your character does a base jump from a building in the film. Are you much of a thrill seeker in real life?
Hedlund:Yeah. When we did the stunt for that base jump, that was no easy task. That was like a 60-foot back fall onto a little mat. I do definitely seek the thrill, though. It's been fun. I've swam with sharks in the middle of the Bahamas before.
Movies.com: What's it like to see yourself as an action figure?
Hedlund:It's pretty cool. One of my pals from high school just had a child, and my mom went to that child's first birthday party and gave him one of the Sam Flynn dolls. It's just something that I feel is very cool. I haven't gotten one yet. I don't know if there are Targets in Montreal.
Movies.com: You were born a few years after the original Tron came out. When did you get the sense that film had a very unique and devoted fan base? Was it after you got involved with the film?
Hedlund:I think the moment that I realized that it had a completely devoted audience was the reaction to the FX footage that they put at Comic-Con three years ago. When they leaked that online and when everybody saw the Light Bike for the first time and you hear the whole crowd erupt, I think that's when I understood the fans’ devotion.
Movies.com: For projects like Tron: Legacy and the movie you’re currently filming, On the Road, do you look closely at the original source material for inspiration, or do you want to come into the role completely fresh and explore the source material later?
Hedlund: If I don't have the education prior than I really don't know what I'm doing. I wouldn't know who to be in order for me to believe myself. I have to believe myself or I don't care to just show up. For On the Road I've been going over this stuff for three years. I've sat down with a lot of biographers and people that have been involved with not only On The Road but with Kerouac and the other character's lives. Steven Lisberger [the director of the original 1982 Tron] gave me a great little tip: “Be the guy that people want to be around.” And also you've got Jeff Bridges telling stories about the original Tron. There are just a lot of people there who are so advocated on the subject matter and you can just sit back and pick their brains and learn.
Movies.com: You've learned parkour for Tron: Legacy, and you've learned guitar for Country Strong. Is there a skill that you don't have that you'd love to pick up for a movie role?
Hedlund: I don't think there's one that I'm dying to learn. I think it's great in that I never knew that I'd have to learn parkour. I always thought that it looked cool but never thought that I would be doing it one day. I just can't wait to read a script to tell me which talent I get to learn next!
Plus: Check out our quick and dirty guide to all things Tron.