From real to reel, Michael Sheen lives his ‘Tron: Legacy’ cyber fantasy
New Delhi, Dec 14 (IANS) When Michael Sheen was offered a role in ‘Tron: Legacy’, he just couldn’t believe the coincidence. He had seen the original film as an 11-year-old and loved it. So, when a chance came to play a human-shaped computer programme in the sci-fi, Sheen just grabbed the chance and didn’t wait to bargain over the money.
The Welsh actor still can’t believe he is a part of the 3D sci-fi outing, that is releasing worldwide Friday. It also stars Olivia Wilde, Bruce Boxleitner and James Frain.
‘I saw the original film when I was about 11 years old. My uncle took me to see the film and it was just amazing,’ Sheen told IANS in an e-mail interview from Los Angeles.
‘If someone had come up to me then and said, ’27 years from now you’re going to be in the sequel to this,’ it would have been extraordinary. Now, to this day, whenever I get any official paper for the schedules or something, and it has the ‘Tron’ logo at the top, I still can’t believe that I’m in it,’ he added.
Known as one of the most talented of the new generation of British actors, Sheen was so eager to grab the project that he didn’t even bargain for his fees.
‘I was told it was being made and the filmmakers were interested in meeting me to discuss my participation… I was so desperate to be in it that there were absolutely no bargaining chips for my agents to deal with. So I had to, on the one hand, pretend that I was unsure about this and, on the other hand, all I wanted to do was just dive in.’
The 1982 original told the story of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), the world’s leading video game developer who is sucked into a self-created digital universe inhabited by human-looking personifications of computer programmes.
Now ‘Tron: Legacy’ follows Flynn’s 27-year-old son Sam (Garrett Hedlund) entering the world where the father he never knew has been trapped for two decades. The duo then embark on a journey to escape the advanced cyber universe.
‘In the film there is a real world where (computer) programs exist with a society and a culture… It’s become an uber-city… This place has geographical limits, but it feels boundless.
‘Somehow, people can get lost in this place and never come out again. I’ve been sucked into the ‘Tron’ world, like Jeff’s character was in the first one, and I’m loving it,’ said Sheen, who says the sequel is like ‘The Wizard of Oz’ in terms of its ‘simple’ story.
The film, distributed by Walt Disney Pictures, marks the big screen directorial debut of Joseph Kosinski.
Sheen plays Castor, owner of the End of Line Club. Speaking of the character, he said: ‘He’s larger-than-life. He’s an entertainer and a host. He’s someone who is a really colourful character. But, also, we should never quite feel certain of whether we can trust him or not. He has a dubious morality… a character who’s a chameleon.
‘He’s a bit of a rock star, he’s a bit of an actor, he’s a bit of all kinds of different things.’
Sheen says his looks have inspirations from none other than English musician David Bowie’s flamboyant, androgynous alter ego Ziggy Stardust.
‘We knew that he (Castor) would be white, as opposed to the black (suits) of other characters, and something like a circus showman, in the centre ring. He looks different from everyone else,’ he said.
Sheen is equally accomplished on stage. Having starred in notable projects like ‘Underworld’, ‘Underworld: Rise of the Lycans’, ‘Blood Diamond’, ‘New Moon’ and a recurring role on the hit comedy series ’30 Rock’, he is known for playing real-life characters like Tony Blair in ‘The Deal’, ‘The Queen’ and ‘The Special Relationship’.
He has also played David Frost in the stage production and film version of ‘Frost/Nixon’ and Brian Clough in ‘The Damned United’.
Sheen’s future projects include Julia Roberts-produced ‘Jesus Henry Christ’, ‘Midnight in Paris’ and ‘Breaking Dawn: Part 2’. He will also return to the stage to play Hamlet apart from directing and appearing in ‘Passion Play’ in his hometown of Port Talbot.
(Robin Bansal can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)