Last year, the team at Disney broke the hearts of millions with the announcement that ‘TRON 3’ had been delayed indefinitely, and that the project had effectively been shelved. This news was especially devastating to fans who had waited twenty-eight years for the first sequel ‘TRON: Legacy’ to the hit 1982 film ‘TRON’ in 2010. Few people would understand that disappointment more than one of the original film’s stars, TRON himself, Bruce Boxleitner!
Earlier this week we were lucky enough to sit down with Bruce for a few minutes at The Great Philadelphia Comic Con 2017 to talk about the thirty-five year legacy of the ‘TRON’ franchise, where the series is now, and the overall state of science fiction in Hollywood! Check out our full exclusive interview below!
Bruce Boxleitner: Oh my gosh, no. Not at the time that we were doing it, which was what? 1981? And it came out in ‘82? No, I never envisioned it to be that way, and it’s been quite a ride! But here I am! I mean, I’ve done a hundred other things, and it resonates more than just about anything I’ve done.
SF: One of our readers asked me to ask if you actually play video games much and if you have a favorite?
BB: No. I raised three boys, and I’m well aware of video games- I’ve done voice over work for them! ‘Kingdom Hearts’ and a few others.
SF: Do you have a favorite that you may have dabbled with here and there?
BB: No… (laughing) I’m outside! I’m not on the couch. I’m sorry! Lots of guys my age do play them, and I totally understand the appeal and think they‘re amazing. I think, and it’s an interesting little sidebar, but the original ‘TRON’ kind of reflected where gaming was in the vision of what the ‘grid’ was and looked like, and then ‘TRON: Legacy’ just kind of took it up a couple of levels and showed where gaming had went to, and how much more sophisticated and lifelike it got! Because they’re very cinematic now, very real looking. All the way from ‘Donkey Kong’ and ‘Pong’ and all that, and ‘Battle Tank’ that we used to play on the set- we had a couple of arcade games on the set! We could never get Bridges (Jeff Bridges) off the damn things! He said “I’m doing research for my role!”, but I think that’s kind of interesting that the movies sort of reflected that and how far that technology has gone. After ‘TRON’ I had a long hiatus where I didn’t do anything that had anything to do with special effects. Then ‘Babylon 5’ came along, which had very primitive effects for it’ time. Those are most of the things I’m really known for in sci-fi.
SF: When ‘TRON: Legacy’ became a thing, I know a lot of fans were excited to see you were involved but disappointed that your role was minimal in the long-awaited sequel. Was that your choice, or more of a creative choice by the writers?
BB: I had no choice in it at all. As an actor, you almost never have a choice. Jeff Bridges is the movie star, and he’s the one they “had to have”. You have to have a movie name, you can’t just do unknown people. Garret (Hedlund) had been around a while but really hadn’t had a… well, this was a good role for him to be prominent in. Olivia Wilde as well! We were just there to be… well in my mind it wasn’t about us or my character, it was about passing the torch. You needed a couple of characters from the original, especially Flynn and Tron.
SF: Well you guys are the guys!
BB: Well yeah! I was just very tickled when they called me! They could have very well done it without any of us and could have had anybody… they could have had like Gerard Butler as Flynn or Tron, but I like that they brought us back. And here’s why I think, because it’s interesting, but the director Joe Kosinski, and the producers were all boys that loved the original ‘TRON’ movie, and they grew up and made their own ‘TRON’ movie with some of the original people in it! They were just geeked out! It was like being at one of these conventions except we’re working on the movie together. Everybody would walk up at one point or another and say “I’m so excited I got into this business because of TRON”! It was really exciting.
BB: Personally? My own opinion? Not Disney’s or anyone else’s? I would really like to see us finish the story and take the company back! Let the series return to where we left it off because it was just left off! We’re got Quorra out in the real world, a different world! And that’s it? What happens? Clu has an army, Tron was coming back!
SF: I think that’s a story a lot of people want to see!
BB: Well once you set it up, I think that that would be fun! I think that we had that, but I’m not sure what happened. It’s a business decision of Disney’s. I don’t think it’s gone, but it’s shelved. I just hope it’s not another twenty years if they want me back because I’ll be in a TRON-Cycle Wheelchair by then!
SF: While we’re on the subject of reboots, with everything else seemingly coming back in some way or another, what are your thoughts a ‘Babylon 5’ revival or reboot? Is that a universe you think it’s time to revisit?
BB: I’m really not interested, no. Been there, done that. Capturing lightning in a bottle twice doesn’t happen.
BB: We’ve lost five of the cast members over the years. You know? So many. I can’t even watch the show anymore, it’s just too close. So for me, no, I don’t think so. Unless they did some big thing with it, but ‘Star Trek’ seems to be eating all that up so I don’t know why. But if they wanted to, and they wanted me, yeah I’d have to see. I don’t know how I’d fit though because I’m dead! My character died! He gave his life at the very end, so… but in science fiction, you know what they say…
SF: There’s always a way in science fiction!
BB: “They woke up and it was all a dream” (laughing), I guess. I don’t know, It’d have to feel like the right time, But hey, I’m not busy so who knows!
SF: Of all of the roles you’ve played and projects you have worked on over the years, is there one that stands out to you as your favorite?
BB: That’s like asking someone to pick your favorite child in your family! It’s hard to answer that question because I have enjoyed everything I do. And I’ve got a number of series just right here (gesturing to his booth space, which has 8×10 glossy photos of Bruce from the various films and series he has worked on)! ‘How The West Was Won’, ‘The Scarecrow and Mrs. King’, which was the most popular thing I ever did. Much more popular than ‘TRON’! This was a hit show for seasons in primetime! Then of course ‘Bring Em Back Alive’ and ‘Babylon 5’! A lot of TV movies and feature films…
SF: You’ve been keeping busy! We actually cover plenty of creature features and monster movies too, which you’ve been popping up in over the years!
BB: I’ve done a few of those! ‘Snakehead Terror’! That was fun to do. They’re cheap and they’re cheesy, but it’s good cheese! You know?
SF: Do you think you’ll be working on more projects like that in the future?
BB: I have no idea, I’m just an actor trying to get another job.
SF: Do you have any projects in the works right now? Where can your fans expect to see you next?
BB: I was just on ‘NCIS’ actually, in a recurring role that just recurred after six seasons! I play an admiral on that. But beyond that no, I have nothing really coming up. Not that I can talk about anyway!
SF: If you had one message to say to your fans, what would it be?
BB: I would want to thank them for being so loyal! This is kind of the way to find out what you do and what you’ve done (referring to being at a convention). I would recommend this to a lot of folks in this business and in Hollywood that don’t do these! A lot of them are now doing it actually, but these used to be sort of a nostalgia show, and it still is, but people here have current really hot things going on and it’s tough! It’s exhausting. But I would want to thank the fans so very much. I’ve heard so many great stories from people and you just don’t realize when you’re doing something like this, when you’re so inside your own bubble working on things, that you don’t realize the actual impact on people. It isn’t like a live theater, where you have an immediate reaction from the audience and by the end, they’re either loving you and applauding you or booing you and throwing garbage. But you don’t have that immediate reaction to what you’re doing, and these conventions like this are a great way to find out and talk to the fans! It’s great!
There you have it, folks! The down low (or should we say download?) from Tron himself, Bruce Boxleitner! Be sure to watch for Bruce Boxleitner to show up in an upcoming episode of ‘NCIS’, and to follow Bruce on Instagram and Twitter for all of the latest updates!
Jordan is a Staff Writer & our resident Toy Columnist here at ScienceFiction! Journalist, Musician, Toy Collector, and Overall Awesome Guy! For more on Jordan’s thoughts, toys, and wacky adventures, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Instagram.