Interview: Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz on Building ‘TRON: Legacy’

Stakes are obviously important for a film like this, so can you talk about coming up with Clu’s plan and introducing it more so in the third act?

EK: Well, we actually kind of thread it through, but it becomes a bigger threat at the end. In a weird way, it’s also a part of that tragedy. “Father said, you and I are going to change the world together,” but then he started to like these ISOs more than him. Clu starts to realize, why can’t I go out there? He’s asked to create the perfect system, and he realizes that it extends further than the Grid.

AH: It also ties into the moment at the end of the movie when Flynn and Clu are on the bridge, and Clu asks, “Why?” Clu said he did everything he could and Flynn says he programmed him not knowing what he knows now. He’s now betrayed Clu, because Sam is his son. In a lot of ways, the realization that Clu has there is that system extends beyond the world he knows. He knows there’s another part of Flynn that’s out there. The only way for Clu to come to terms with that is by looking at it by what is and what isn’t perfection. The only way he can deal with the fact Kevin Flynn is choosing something else is to see it as a mistake, and a mistake he has to change.

And can you talk a bit about your approach to Sam Flynn?

EK: Well, what we thought about when we first sat down was that, Adam and I always wanted to do a father-son story. We thought, what if your father was Steve Jobs meets Bill Gates meets John Lennon? He’s this towering, huge icon that left you. You don’t know if he abandoned you, but your whole life people keep coming up to you saying how great your father is and how he changed your life. First, you’re not sure what you think about him. Two, how do you live up to that? Well, the best way to not fail is to not try, and we thought that was how Sam Fylnn was going to be. Instead of thinking about topping his father he says, “Fuck it. I’m going to reject it all. I’m not going to try, so then I cant fell.” It’s like, Kevin Flynn built buildings, and Sam jumped off those buildings.

AH: It’s a complicated relationship that Sam has with his father. It’s very difficult for him to have his father absent for all those years and thinking about whether or not he abandoned him. There’s a justification as to why Kevin Flynn is in the Grid, how he’s really just waiting there and not playing a game. That hurts Sam, and he wants to take a risk to give him his own father a lesson. Sam even says some things are worth the risk.

What was the decision behind not having Quorra be a love interest for Sam? Was it because her childlike nature?

AH: You know, it would have been a really long to go. In one two-hour movie to take a character as constructed that you buy it as love interest…

EK: I think Adam and I have to credit a lot of that to Olivia. She had really strong ideas for Quorra and she just brought such a fresh take to it. There’s a childlike innocence to her. In a weird way, she’s like a female Pinocchio. She’s a program that wants to be real girl. She’s a warrior and all these things, but she’s so, “What’s the sun like?” [Laughs] That quality makes her so charming and endearing, and Olivia really brought that. We would really start to write towards that. We always envisioned the idea of that Pinocchio-like story.

Well, could they also actually be together? Technically, she’s not human.

EK: Well, you know, who knows what happened on the other side of the Grid? [Laughs]

AH: I mean, that is one of the questions we would love for people to think about.

Maybe Sam has a tech fetish, so it could work.

EK: [Laughs] Yeah, maybe. It’s also a case of, what’s real and not real? She exhibits more humanity than a lot of humans I know.

All you really need to know about Jack is his favorite movies are: The Last Detail, Rumble Fish, Sunset Boulevard, The Truman Show, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, Closer, Shadow of a Doubt, Spider-Man 2, Jaws, Adaptation, Get Carter, The Last Days of Disco, Carnal Knowledge, Almost Famous, The Friends of Eddie Coyle, Ed Wood, Barton Fink, and L.A. Confidential.

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