At the Los Angeles press junket for TRON: Legacy, I got to interview screenwriters Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz. Since I knew I wouldn’t have a lot of time with them, I decided to try and have some fun with my questions. Also, since we ran a more in depth interview with Kitsis and Horowitz a few weeks back, I didn’t want to ask the same things.
Anyway, during the interview they talked about how they pitched the story to the studio, writing the light cycle battle, what props they got to take home, what’s it like for them with the way Disney is pushing the movie at Disneyland, what’s the one thing they’re really proud of in TRON: Legacy, their upcoming TV project, and more. Hit the jump to either read or listen to the interview:
As usual, you can either read the transcript below or click here to listen to the audio. Look for video interviews with the cast of TRON: Legacy the week of release. And here’s a link to all our coverage which includes clips, trailers, behind the scenes footage, posters, images, and so much more.
Horowitz: Excellent question.
Kitsis: That’s a great question ‘cause you’re asking us to think.
Hororwitz: It is a super question. I guess…
Kitsis: You stumped us! (laughs)
Horowitz: No, it’s really good because—
Like behind the scenes, like a meeting that really changed the way things were that you sort of forgot about, you know what I’m saying? There’s been a lot of quotes attributed to the both of you.
Kitsis: You know, we had an idea for the pitch, and we came in and we pitched the story and what’s interesting is, Sean Bailey (producer) said, “Let’s all go to La Quinta, in Palm Springs. Put the fuckin’ Blackberries away, let’s lock ourselves in,” it was the summer, it was 120 degrees, “we won’t be able to work, and let’s do it.” And Adam and I had already written an outline and we just basically sat in a room, it was me, Adam, Sean, and Joe Kosinski (director), and we just broke the story. We just literally, in that two day thing, we just really fine-tuned our outline and really did it, and that’s become the movie. But what was really cool was, you know we talk a lot about the collaborative process but you see it there. That was the kind of dedication that all of us had, we always say “Tron is a lifestyle it’s not a job.” There’s just so many things you know, and I don’t even know where to begin on what talk about that hasn’t been talked about.
When you’re writing a script that has light-cycle battle, in the script how much detail do you two go into for the light-cycle battle, or is it sort of like “there’s a light-cycle battle.”
Horowitz: Oh no it’s incredibly detailed, but the way it gets incredibly detailed is this incredible collaborative process. I’ll give you an example from a different part of the movie, the disc game for example. When we were first conceiving that section of the movie and writing that part of the script, Eddie and I were writing a version of the disc game and we gave the scene to Joe (Kosinski), and then Joe had his conception of what it would look like. He described them as these undulating platforms, that would then coalesce and then the way you would go from round to round in the game is you defeat someone, they kinda come together as you see in the movie. So we would write it, and he would then send us a sketch, and we would see a sketch of what it would look like—
Kitsis: And then we would have an idea, “What if Sam jumped off one of these things?” And Joe would go, “Yes!” and then this would happen, and then Joe would start to pre-vis it, and then we would start to revise it, and there was this really weaving back and forth. So you would start off with “light-cycle fight” and you would end up with that, and eventually you would walk into Joe’s office and he says, “Do you wanna see the pre-vis of it?”
Horowitz: But in a section like that, like from a writing standpoint for us, it’s like figuring out “How are we telling the character story here, and how are we illustrating what Sam’s going through via the action?” So having him come in and not be attuned to what the rules are immediately, and figuring out the game as he goes. So you get that sort of spine to where you want it to be—
Kitsis: That’s the hardest part of writing Tron, I mean there’s so many parts that are hard, staring at a blank page, creating a world, this and that, but you knew right away and you just had to see Joe Kosinski’s reel to know it was gonna look great. You looked at the test, and you knew it was gonna be awesome. How do you match that in the story? How do you make this something more than just something cool to look at? And that’s what was driving us every day, was to be like “We have to hold up our end of the bargain. We have to hold our weight, because Joe is clearly getting a home run.” How do we come in and give it something more than just like “awesome game?” I think that was like every day, we just tried to push ourselves—yes, light-cycle is cool, but it has to have another purpose. It can’t just be light-cycle for light-cycle or it might as well be the videogame. That was literally what kept us up at night, and thank God we had such great partners to bounce ideas and work with. That was really the internal pressure we put on ourselves, was how we make the story as good because we know the visuals are gonna be outstanding.
Hypothetically speaking, what props might have come home with you on the set?
Horowitz: None! Don’t think we didn’t try to leave the set with something.
Kitsis: Listen, and I’m not even kidding, there was stuff we put in there solely because we wanted it in our office—we used to do that on Lost. You know how many Dharma beer cans and soap I have? We have not received anything [from Tron] yet, but the greatest gift we got was Joe made these t-shirts, and it was a picture of Clu and it said “The Clu Abides.”
Kitsis: But as soon as we get around those props again, we will steal something. Disney can’t always be looking.
I agree, I did the set-visit and I saw tables with really cool shit.
Horowitz: Yeah the sets were spectacular, but they were also very well guarded (laughs). I noticed that as well when I tried taking a disc. When you are working on a major property like this at Disney, do you get the free annual passport for life?
Kitsis: I wouldn’t say for life, but we do have a free Silver Pass which has been very nice.
What does the Silver Pass mean?
Kitsis: It means that I can bring all of us to Disneyland and get in.
Horowitz: Do you wanna go right now?
I am ready to go. Which brings me to the next thing, this is like the first time that they’ve done something at the park electronically. Like the studio has pushed this—I mean they have just embraced this thing head-on.
Horowitz: It’s amazing.
Horowitz: It’s unreal, it’s overwhelming.
Kitsis: It’s really crazy because, you know we all grew up, we all went to these movies, we all aspired to do something that would have this kind of momentum and support, but to actually go to California Adventure and to see Electronica, and to see people dressed as characters, and to see the End of Line club, to see things that you came up with that are actually being done—there’s a part of you that’s completely humbled and then there’s a part of you that’s like, “Did I just run the biggest con in the world? Do they know who I am?”
Horowitz: When we were developing the script, we would talk about things like “Oh it would be awesome to do something at this theme park, oh we should do an animated show,” and they’re all happening now! It’s like, how did this happen?
I’m gonna say Sean Bailey.
Horowitz: Sean’s amazing.
Kitsis: Sean Bailey, we would write his Christmas cards. Sean Bailey’s one of the greatest people we know. Like, yes he’s president now, but we still, he’s our producer he’s like our coach. And he loves this project so much that his enthusiasm is great, because that’s what you want, is for everyone to be as excited as you are. Beacsue we’d be happy to spend 24 hours a day doing Tron.
When you look back on the script and this whole process, what’s the one thing that you’re ridiculously proud of, and the one thing that you’re like “I wish we would have tweaked that one little thing a little bit?” If at all?
Kitsis: I will say this, the thing that we’re most proud of is that we came up with the idea of having two Clu’s. I mean the idea of two [Jeff] Bridges’.
Horowitz: That triangle relationship between Flynn, Clu and Sam was sort of the jumping off point for us for the whole script and the whole idea and that’s something we’re very proud of because it’s what kind of allowed us to open up and figure out what we wanted the script to be. You know, I think it’s less about things we would wanna tweak about the movie itself than looking back at the process. Like this was our first movie, and we had never done this before, so we were learning as we went along the way. And we were very fortunate to have very patient and supportive collaborators in Sean and Justin Springer (co-producer) and Joe, and all those guys. So for me, looking at the game tape it’s more like—
Kitsis: “Ah I could have gotten to this scene quicker! I didn’t need three drafts to get it down to this line!” You see it and you’re like, “Oh that was two pages, yeah no it only needed these three lines.”
I’m running out of time with you, but I have to ask you, I believe you guys have a TV thing that’s cooking right now?
So what can you tell people about your TV thing?
Horowitz: Not much really.
Are you pulling a Damon and Carlton (Lindelof and Cuse, executive-producers/showrunners of Lost)?
Horowitz: We are, unfortunately. We’ve got one, we’re working on it.
Kitsis: We learned from the best, you know, if there’s one thing those two pounded into us it’s “say nothing.” Um, we have an idea, we’re very excited about it and we are working on it and as soon as we have something, you know.
Let me ask you this question: are you making a pilot in this pilot season?
Horowitz: That’s the plan.
So in the next four or five months, you’re gonna be doing a pilot?
Horowitz: Theoretically, yes. That’s the plan.
Okay, and I guess I’ll find out more about it later on.
Horowitz: Yeah. Look, if you ever wanna talk to us about anything other than Tron, like we really should be talking about Tron here, but we’re very easy to get a hold of.
Kitsis: Let’s be honest, we have to ride it. (laughs) To be totally honest with you, it’s been all Tron all the time and we have to ride it.
No I understand, in a month the freedom comes.