The animated series TRON: Uprising, premiering on Disney XD on June 7th, takes place after the 1982 feature film and before the events in TRON: Legacy. Produced in CG animation with a 2D aesthetic, the series follows the heroic journey of a new character named Beck (voiced by Elijah Wood), a young program who becomes the unlikely leader of a revolution inside the computer world of The Grid. You can watch the first episode here.
At a press day for the show, actress Tricia Helfer, who lends her voice to the digital utopia The Grid, talked about how much she knew about the TRON universe before signing on, how she enjoys the sci-fi genre, putting a voice to something like The Grid, what she thinks of the look of the animation, doing voice-over work for video games, her dream project, and the fact that she’d like to return to series television and is waiting on word for a pilot she did for TNT. Check out what she had to say after the jump:
Question: What did you know about the TRON universe, prior to doing this show?
TRICIA HELFER: I definitely have to admit that I am fairly ignorant, not just to TRON, but almost any pop culture thing that I should know, at my age. I grew up without a television and rarely got to see a movie, so I didn’t really see any of that stuff, and I haven’t been able to catch up since. So, really, my first experience with TRON was seeing commercials for the last movie that came out. I came into The Grid not really knowing anything. The first voice session, I had everyone explain to me exactly what it was, and I still am a little confused.
Did they approach you about doing a voice for this because they were fans of yours from Battlestar Galactica?
HELFER: I’ve started getting into quite a bit of voice work, definitely from Battlestar. A lot of people that not only watch and play video games, and watch animated shows like TRON, were either fans of Battlestar or fans of the genre. I started with voice work in video games because of someone who was a fan of Battlestar. Since then, I’ve developed relationships and done some other things aside from the sci-fi realm. But definitely, I probably wouldn’t have had the career I’ve had so far in voice-over, if I hadn’t done Battlestar.
Do you personally enjoy the sci-fi genre?
HELFER: I do! As an actor, if I just did sci-fi, I think it would get limiting, like if you just play lawyers or doctors, over and over. It’s a lot more fun, if you get to play lots of different types of characters. You can literally go from playing The Grid to playing a serial killer to playing an attorney. That keeps it fresh and you also get to learn a lot more. If you’re doing live-action, you have to learn how to actually do whatever it is that you’re doing. If you’re doing voice-over, you can fake it.
What’s it like to voice something like The Grid?
HELFER: I rely heavily on the writers and the producers and the voice director in the room. TRON is a little bit different because, when I record, they always have a little bit of video. Lately, I’ve been doing the, “Previously on . . .” for the episodes, to catch people up, in case they miss the previous episode. They’ll have the images for me to look at, and I can see what’s going on. But, most of the time, with voice-overs, you’re recording before they’ve got the graphics, and you also don’t get a whole script. I don’t get the whole TRON episode. I get my lines, as I show up that day. You don’t know what the rest of the story is, so you really rely on the people in the room that you’re working with, so they can fill you in on what’s going on, right around your particular lines. I wish sometimes that I could know more. Sometimes the first time I read the line, I’m saying it out loud and it’s being recorded.
For characters like Tron and Beck and Paige, who are physically doing things and having emotional connections, that takes longer to do because you have to try it different ways and try different levels. But, with The Grid, it was the first session where we tried it a little bit more sultry, a little bit more straight and even, and a little bit more pleasant and OnStar-ish. It was really in the first recording session that we narrowed down what they wanted for the voice of The Grid. Now, when I go in to record, I just listen to what I recorded the last time. There’s really not too many ways I can do it differently, especially when they want to keep it as a very pleasant voice, regardless of what’s happening. The Grid takes on a personality by how even she is.
At this point in your career, what’s a dream project for you?
HELFER: Oh, lots of things. I’ve only been acting for 10 years, so I feel like I’ve got a lot that I want to do yet. One of my favorite books is The First Stone, and I would have loved to have played Lisa in that, but the character ends up at the age I’m at now, so it would be a little rough to try to play her as a teenager. But, if age wasn’t involved, that would be one of my dream roles.
Would you go back to series TV?
HELFER: Oh, absolutely, yeah! I’m still waiting to hear about a pilot I did, called Scent of the Missing, about K-9 search and rescue, for TNT. We’re hoping to hear soon. It’s a character I haven’t played before. She’s the head of a K-9 search and rescue unit, who’s a little bit of an adrenaline junkie. There’s a lot of animal lovers out there, and there are a lot of great stories that we could tell. They fly all over the country, and it’s pretty much all volunteer run. They put up their own money.
TRON is set in a video game world, and you’ve done voices for video games. Do you play video games, at all?
HELFER: I wish I played them more often. I do voice them a lot, so I feel like a bit of a hypocrite that I don’t play them as much. I’m an actor, so I enjoy that part of it more than actually playing them. But, I do take them to my nephews and say, “Okay, find auntie.” I’m a bit of a tech idiot, so I would never get to the level to hear everything I’ve done in the games. They’re very excited about some of the games I’ve done.
What do you think of the look of the animated series?
HELFER: That was one of the things that drew me in, in the beginning. I was like, “Wow, for TV, this is amazing,” and they’re keeping that up. It’s fascinating to see, and I was really drawn in by it. I imagine the fans are going to be, as well.
TRON: Uprising will air on Thursdays on Disney XD, starting on June 7th.