Olivia Wilde: 'I completely physically transformed my body'
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It's been 27 years since the original "Tron" film hit theaters and revolutionized the way we see the complex world of computers. Now, two decades and innumerable technological advancements later, "Tron: Legacy" in 3D and IMAX is set to hit theaters on Friday. Jeff Bridges reprises his role as video game designer Kevin Flynn, and "House" hottie Olivia Wilde plays his right-hand woman, Quorra, a program with human-like tendencies. While the cast was in Los Angeles promoting the film last month, Wonderwall managed to snag some time with Olivia to chat about preparing for her character, her connection to Joan of Arc and how she celebrated after filming wrapped.
Can you talk about what kind of physical training you had to do for "Tron"?
Olivia Wilde: It was challenging. I was shooting "House" while I was training for "Tron," so I would, you know, wake up way earlier than anyone should ever wake up and go and do a few hours of training a day. That included cross-training, cardio and martial arts training. A lot of what Quorra does in the movie is mixed martial arts, so that was something that I worked very hard on. I completely physically transformed my body. I have never looked like that before, and I will never look like that again. It was important in creating Quorra to transfer myself physically, because once I understood what it was like to be able to fight and to have those kind of muscles and to have that strength, it changed the way I walked. It changed the way I stood.
Did you celebrate when the training was finally over?
OW: It was such a relief. I couldn't wait. The entire time we were shooting "Tron," I was planning my meal on the wrap day. You know, I'm married to an Italian, so it was all about the pasta and wine. I couldn't wait. I would just dream of my giant plate of pasta while we were on set. But no, on these big films you're so lucky to have the best trainers in the world teaching you how to fight, and everyone in their department is the best of the best. So it's such an honor to have them focused on creating something for you, to maximize the impact of your character. So you have to bring your focus and your energy and never complain, because this is such an honor to have these people working on you to turn you into a little warrior.
How did you come up with the look for your character Quorra?
OW: The look was a true collaboration. When we originally started putting together ideas for it, it was really kind of up for grabs because Quorra was not in the original film. And [director] Joe Kaczynski was very interested in making her a unique and unusual femme -- not even femme fatale, a female heroine -- if this type of film was to be unlike any other. We worked very hard to make her very intelligent and powerful, but at the same time childlike and nuanced so that she would not just be there as a kind of foil for the men, not just the eye candy.
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Who was your inspiration for Quorra?
OW: With a different team that character could have easily turned into the temptress of the "Tron" world. She could've just been this sexy femme fatale. With a suit like that it's easy to fall into that I think. I worked very, very hard to create someone who is not that. We were very inspired by Joan of Arc. I brought the concept of Joan of Arc very early on, six months before we start shooting.
How is Quorra like Joan of Arc?
OW: Because Joan of Arc was this unlikely warrior, this child who could lead an army. She was kind of unnaturally powerful and seemed to have this connection to another world, to a higher power, to be guided by something greater than herself and by selflessness. That is Quorra . And that combination of innocence and strength is unusual in characters. Once we found this historical reference, it was really fun to flesh her out.
Do you think Quorra would be considered a role model for younger girls?
OW: I want girls to feel inspired by her strength and her wit and her intelligence and her compassion. I think that it's rare these days to have a female character in these types of movies that isn't just there to look really sexy in a suit. Too often that's what happens, and you wonder who did these little girls dress up as for Halloween. You know, when I was little, we dressed as Wonder Woman, and Wonder Woman represented, you know, social justice and …and honesty.
What was it like having that short black hairdo? It's a lot different than your real hair.
OW: The hair was very much inspired by Joan of Arc. We wanted something a little androgynous. She's a fighter -- that's her purpose, to protect Flynn -- and she needs to be able to move fast. If she had long, flowing "Little Mermaid" hair, it would be very impractical for her. So we wanted her hair to have the kind of slick, nonorganic look of the Tron world but at the same time be really practical and also good-looking, you know?
How do you like being turned into merchandise? Is this your first experience with that?
OW: This is my first experience with that. I don't think there's a little "House" doll, unless I'm missing something. There should be. You know, it's … it's really quite odd. I like Carrie Fisher's take on it, you know? Carrie Fisher is such an incredible writer and actress and person, and I don't know if any of you have read or seen her one-woman show "Wishful Drinking," but she talks a lot about the merchandise that came from "Star Wars," including the blow-up doll. I haven't heard of any of those being created for Quorra. But it's a funny out-of-body experience to see some miniature version of yourself on the shelf.
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