Bruce Boxleitner has had a digital gladiator stalking him for three decades. “I always keep looking ahead, but 'Tron' kept following me,” he tells PopcornBiz.
Boxleitner – who starred in Disney’s 1982 sci-fi film and reprised the role last year for the long-awaited sequel “Tron Legacy” (which bows on Blu-Ray this week, including a two-pack bundled with the original) –still marvels at the literal legacy that shadowed him over the years, ever after the first film failed to make an enormous impact on the box office.
“I've been signing and talking about 'Tron' ever since the day we wrapped – there’s always someone coming up to me in all parts of the world that this business has taken me to talk about 'Tron’ and how that influenced them,” says Boxleitner. “I've always had an amazement how the original 'Tron' kept being more popular as the years went by, more popular than when it came out.
“Something resonated there with the young people, because those young people who saw it when they were however young grew up to make this movie,” he says “Every one of the people that made this movie, the executives, the director, everyone – they were all young kids when they saw it, and they grew up to make their own 'Tron' movie. So I think that's pretty thrilling and great to be a part of.”
“It's one of the science fiction films that actually predicted something that we're living: the age of information,” the actor theorizes of ‘Tron’s’ slow-building resonance. “It's also this incredible fantasy, which, to me, is kind of like an Alice-Through-the-Looking-Glass-type of thing, a modern version of it. I'm sure playing arcade games back then, some of the kids were thinking 'God, what would it be like? What if I was down inside there?' Because in our computers we create programs which are a little bit of us. That was just a fantasy then. Maybe a lot of older generation didn't get it at the time, but those kids putting the quarters in the arcade machines got it.”
Boxleitner was an admirer of science fiction and fantasy films and literature himself, and he was very intrigued by the role of Tron. “I'm one of the many thousands that went up for Luke Skywalker – or one of the characters – and I was too tall, so when 'Tron' came along I took it! It had something about it…I didn't know how to relate to it, to tell you the truth. ‘Okay, so I'm this video warrior.’ So I thought of Spartacus in a video game. I had to liken it to movie characters that I'd seen in other films.”
“I told ["Tron: Legacy" co-star] Garrett Hedlund the first night we worked – we were joking around about something, it was real late at night about 4:30 in the morning when we were shooting that scene in his apartment outside in Vancouver. And I said to him, 'Wow, this title, 'Tron: Legacy,' is amazing to me because –and I know Jeff [Bridges] thinks this, too – this is actually my legacy, a good part of my legacy.' And he kind of laughed. And I said, 'So don't screw it up!' I cracked a smile and he knew I was kidding.”
Boxleitner, who'll be voicing Tron for Disney XD's 2012 CGI series "Tron: Uprising," says there’s another character familiar to 80s pop culture junkies he’d love to reprise: Agent Scarecrow of the TV series “Scarecrow & Mrs. King.” “I kind of played this role recently!” he reveals. “I was shooting a new series called 'Chaos' for CBS. A CIA agent who was boxed out years ago and now he's trying to make his way back into the spy game. And I felt that was kind of like Agent Scarecrow making his way back in after a lot of years out. Or, strangely enough, not many people know the season before 'Scarecrow & Mrs. King' and right after 'Tron' I did a period piece called 'Bring 'Em Back Alive.’ I wish that would have gone a little bit more and we'd got to explore that a little bit. That was the time of 'Indiana Jones' and there was one other show, 'Tales of the Gold Monkey' on ABC – we were the CBS show. I think both of us lasted a part of a season, or a season, but didn't catch on.”
“I don’t really think about revisiting characters,” he confesses. “I'd like to go forward instead of backwards, but 'Tron' was a delightful going-backwards, because we got to be them now.”