Bruce Boxleitner on ‘Tron: Uprising’

Boxleitner tells us about the animated series “TRON: Uprising” and 30 years of Tron.

Fred Topelby Fred Topel

Disney XD’s animated series “TRON: UPRISING” takes place inside The Grid with a cast of characters we mostly haven’t seen in either of the Tron movies. The one character who remains is Tron himself, and Bruce Boxleitner is back to speak for Tron. He provides the voice of his electronic character and spoke with us earlier this summer.


CraveOnline: Before Rinzler revealed he was in fact Tron, did you record it differently or have it altered?

Bruce Boxleitner: Yeah, I personally had it altered. No. I came in and did all of that afterwards. They had that rumbling, purring Rinzler thing going which made him kind of more menacing in a way. But yeah, I did all that stuff later in Legacy. Now with “TRON: Uprising” trying to find that voice and try to bring some of that menace into the voice again, because it’s going to happen.

This takes place before Rinzler. Not much. He’s got this outfit I think you’ve probably all seen. That black outfit that he’s got on is pretty awesome looking. This is before the purring and the rumbling and whatever happens I can’t wait to see. We haven’t gotten there yet in the animated series, but finding the specific voice for this character in this series was my main challenge throughout this whole thing.

CraveOnline: What’s been a treat for you as far as doing the movie in 1982, seeing it have a life that’s gone on so long and now it’s become a franchise?

Bruce Boxleitner: You just said it. It’s not a mystery to me and it was less a surprise than just an absolute joy that what I had been thinking was happening was actually happening, in that it had resonated not just a couple years later, because Tron came and went. Somehow later on, and maybe well into the next decade, towards the end of the ‘80s and then all the way through the ‘90s when suddenly we had laptop computers and all these things.

I think it comes right along with the advance of these medias, these things in the computer world which we kind of predicted in its sweet, naive way in the movie, that the age of information suddenly came racing ahead. We actually kind of in a way predicted. Not all science-fiction does that. We actually have a future that we’re living. “The Jetsons” lied to us. Remember that. It doesn’t look a thing like it.

CraveOnline: Right, 1999.

Bruce Boxleitner: It’s supposed to be here now. It’s supposed to be happening. We’re way past the time. Where’s my flying car? Me me and beep beep. “Meet George Jetson.” Anyway, I’m totally continually surprised. To be a part of something and for me personally to have the name of it, to have played the title character in this, it’s absolutely thrilling.

Like I said, I was doing a lot of science-fiction conventions, “Star Trek” conventions and things like that, and I’ll tell you 85-90% of people walking up was all about Tron. I’m going, “Wow, this thing really just keeps coming out.” Now the original movie is more popular now than it ever was. It took Legacy for a lot of people who were way too young or weren’t around to now rediscover it. I will say what I love about the animated series, it has everything which I loved about Legacy and then adds a little bit more, certainly in the shapes and everything of the characters.

The vehicles are so hot. My God, every time I see a new Tron thing, I go, “I gotta have me one of those.” I’ve got to have that treaded thing, the bike with the tank tread on it. You know that’s just to eat up the terrain. That’s off roading at its best. That ATV type thing. I wanted Quora’s little dune buggy that she had when she picked him up in Legacy and took off over the frontier there. It 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, it was great, I admired his work but you’re right, the job ended, I hung up the tights and I went over to Warner Brothers and worked with Kate Jackson for the next few years on a series. Didn’t think anything of it, and then  like I said over the years it started, you’d hear rumors. “Well, I think Lisberger could answer that better.” That there was a script and there were talks, and then it just died and I said, “Why would you want to do that?” We weren’t into that sequel stuff yet.

CraveOnline: What’s been your favorite moment from the entire Tron experience?

Bruce Boxleitner: How about the day I got the call that they wanted me? Actually, two but kind of related to that same time. When I was told go online and look at this footage that’s just been shown down in San Diego. I had heard there was some little rumbling possible, but I never took any of this seriously because it’s always rumors in this town.

When we went and watched that little bit of footage that they shot with Jeff and then surprised it on Hall H which had probably about 5000 people in it and you heard the uproar of, “Oh my God it’s Tron!” Somebody very strategically had placed their iPhone in there. Yeah, right. They’re not supposed to have any phones in there or any cameras. Yeah, you heard these people start screaming and I’m told that’s what greenlit the movie. The reaction on that little bit of footage when they were all down there, Joe Kosinski and all of them.

Then my favorite part, to answer your question specifically, is I got a phone call from [Producer] Sean Bailey and [director] Joe Kosinski. One, would I want to be in the movie. I said, “No. Right, Absolutely.” And then two, would I want to come to work a little earlier than everybody else and would I be willing to screen test with all the young prospective hopefuls that were going to play the younger roles. I worked with five guys. It was five or six guys and six girls and we narrowed it down.

I did that in November, we didn’t start shooting until April so it was way ahead of time. So I’ve been linked with it that long but my favorite moment was them personally calling, not somebody calling an agent, not someone sending an e-mail. Something personal. That’s what I loved about Sean. They actually said, “We would really very much want you to be in this with us. We have to have Tron in this.” Then the rest was just fabulous. The working process of all the scripts that we did and we rehearsed and rehearsed. We rewrote and rewrote.

It was a process was always, the whole cast was involved and I was very proud to say that my two favorite choices, my personal choices were [cast.] And you’ve gotta remember, I hadn’t done anything in front of Disney, any of these people in years, so I thought I was screen testing a little bit myself. I thought, “What if I suck? What if I really suck in this thing?” They’re going to go, “Wait a minute, we have to rethink this whole thing.” But Garrett and Olivia, and I did it with some big names, young names all wanting to be in this thing and they all worked very hard to do it.

CraveOnline: And how about on the TV show?

Bruce Boxleitner: Now we have Elijah [Wood]. He and I, the only time we worked together, we only worked once and that was when we kind of auditioned this to the powers that be, who were all sitting in a room on the other side of the glass from us. Of course they came to me for Tron, but what if my voice sucked? What if it just didn’t work right?

So I went through this all over again now for this series. I more or less felt like I was auditioning because I had everybody and their agents all sitting on the other side there and Elijah and I, is this going to work? Is there any chemistry?

Thankfully I think there is. I think it’s done real well so it all worked out and that’s the only time we actually worked together. Maybe one other time he happened to be in town, otherwise I think he was in New Zealand doing The Hobbit. I was off doing another series, which didn’t make the schedule. “GC Whatever That Thing Was.” Anyway, so that’s fine. It was kind of interesting. I’m finally going to meet the cast today. I just met Paul Reubens.

CraveOnline: Will we see the real world and Alan Bradley at any point?

Bruce Boxleitner: No. No. That’s what I like about this one is that it is entirely on The Grid this time around. I think it’s cool having that other stuff but we know that story already. Maybe in the future but nothing that we’ve done so far. There might be.


Photo Credit: Disney XD/Getty Images