What is Caffeinated Clint’s Greats?
I’ve had plenty of emails from you guys asking such questions as “Who were your favourite actors growing up?”, “Do you have a favourite movie?”, “You’re producing films now, any particular film that inspired you to take that road?” and “Hey man, Got Kristen Stewart’s phone number?”, and it gave my an idea – why not profile some of my favourite films? (It saves me from flaming a pimply, unintelligent publicist or another fresh-from-junior-high exec over some harebrained remake he’s just greenlit for a couple of weeks, after all) and in doing so, why not make contact with some of the people from these films?
Title : Tron
Year : 1982
Director : Steven Lisberger
Starring : Jeff Bridges, Bruce Boxleitner, David Warner, Cindy Morgan, Barnhard Hughes
Most of us – well, those in their thirties surely do – remember seeing “Tron” on the big screen; it was, after all, a spectacle unlike any we’d seen at that point in time. The pic, which came out out smack-bang in the middle of 1982’s U.S Summer movie season, was one of the first to extensively use computer graphics. Now today’s kids, having grown up with such CGI fare as “Toy Story” and the “Star Wars” prequels, would likely merely shrug at the effects in “Tron” but back then, I tell ya, we were in awe. The production design was also out-of-this-world – Renowned French comic book artist Jean Giraud did all the sets and costumes, and those cool vehicles were designed by Syd Mead, then hot off another initially-underrated science-fiction flick “Blade Runner”.
But unfortunately some couldn’t see past the effects and production design. So many critics at the time wrote “Tron” off like they did, in later years, the “Star Wars” prequels (Variety really got into “Tron”), suggesting it was all effects and nothing more. But Roger Ebert came to the film’s rescue with a glowing review in The Chicago Sun-Times that spurred a few people that wouldn’t have otherwise bothered with the film to check it out. “This is an almost wholly technological movie. Although it’s populated by actors who are engaging (Bridges, Cindy Morgan) or sinister (Warner), it is not really a movie about human nature. Like [the last two Star Wars films], but much more so, this movie is a machine to dazzle and delight us”, Ebert wrote in his review. Those my age will also remember the brouhaha when the Academy refused to nominate “Tron” in the special effects category – claiming, by using special effects, that the film “cheated”. What a load of BS.
Nowadays, filmmakers – and even, I’m assuming, the voting committee of the Academy – bow at the temple of “Tron”. It pathed the way for so many advancements in technology, but it also (as Ebert suggested in his review) proved that a good family film doesn’t have to be all “razzle dazzle” but can also showcase a good storyline, too.
“Tron” featured a terrific cast – “King Kong” and “Stay Hungry” lead Jeff Bridges was our hero, TV heartthrob Bruce Boxleitner (“Scarecrow & Mrs King”) was the best friend, “Caddyshack” beauty Cindy Morgan was the brainy ‘girl’, and thespian David Warner (“Time After Time”) was the deliciously maniacal villain.
In this one-on-one chat, I talk to actress Cindy Morgan about her memories of working on Steven Lisberger’s groundbreaking film.
Caffeinated Clint : Cindy, Did you ever imagine ”TRON” would have the life it has?
Cindy Morgan : I don’t think we had a clue. But, I was offered a role in a film with great professionals and everybody grows up under the charm of Disney.
Caffeinated Clint : So what did you think you were making at the time?
Cindy Morgan : Well, I would often come in to the studio some days and have no clue about the script pages for that day. Steven Lisberger would say, “Cindy, you’re flying the Solar Sailer across the Game Sea.” And I’d have to say, “I’m sorry. I have to ask. What the heck does that mean?” Steven would show me Syd Mead’s brilliant graphics for reference, and I’d have to wing it. Literally.
Caffeinated Clint : Tough way to make a film, yeah.
Cindy Morgan : I remember having a specific conversation with Steven walking back from lunch one day saying, “You know Steven a lot of times I don’t know what I’m saying here, and if I don’t know what I’m saying how is the audience going to know?” Steven would say, “Well then, the movie’s not for them.” I’d ask, “Will they understand the film?” Luckily, Steven’s sense of integrity really held true to a lot of audiences and I think that’s why TRON’s stood the test of time.
Caffeinated Clint : Fond memories of working on the film, then? And, of course, working alongside Jeff and Bruce?
Cindy Morgan : Yes I do. How lucky to play opposite two absolutely gorgeous leading men and be able to have love scenes with both? I sure looked forward to going to work in the morning. Working with David Warner and Barnard Hughes was also an honor and a privilege. When the script didn’t make sense to me all I had to do was look in their eyes and I found the reality I needed.
Caffeinated Clint : That’s a lovely way to make sense of it all
Cindy Morgan : But, the costumes in the world of TRON were absolute hell. I can’t say enough about how uncomfortable, unpleasant, and unflattering I felt they were.
Caffeinated Clint : Steven Lisberger seemed to be ahead of the curve. Would you agree?
Cindy Morgan : Absolutely. A lot of the terminology as I said before wasn’t common vernacular. Steven used these concepts and developed almost a spiritual life behind these characters. It all made sense when it was on screen, especially, for a particular niche of people. Initially, the film had a limited amount of success as did Caddyshack. But it held true over time because there was an honesty about it. It held over time.
Caffeinated Clint : You mention ”Caddyshack”. My god – you must have fabulous memories of working with all those greats… Chevy, Bill, Ted, Rodney!?
Cindy Morgan : What a wonderful, lucky first job to get. What a remarkable place to be. I was at the right place at the right time. But, I was there to play a very specific character who went head to head with these guys, and so it was as much of a joy as it was a challenge to go to work.
Caffeinated Clint : And the wonderful Michael O’Keefe. Did you guys feel like the kids at someone else’s party sometimes?
Cindy Morgan : Michael O’Keefe who had just come off his Academy Award nomination for, “The Great Santini”, so he was taking his work rather seriously. The rest of us were all kids at the same party… every single one of us, including Rodney. The only one who wasn’t a kid at the party was Ted Knight. He was the only one trying to make order of it, and didn’t have a whole lot of luck, which is why he appeared to be angry most of the time.
Caffeinated Clint : Seemed to work for his character. A friend of mine, Patrick Lussier, edited your 1995 film “Galaxis”. What’s your opinion of the film?
Cindy Morgan :I enjoyed my character in Galaxis. I remember that the audience at the screening groaned when I was killed early on, which hopefully meant I did my job well. Bridgette Nielson was very pleasant, but I didn’t have many scenes with her.
Caffeinated Clint : Now, I hear you’ve been making some comic-con appearances as Lora from ”TRON”, to promote ”TRON LEGACY”?
Cindy Morgan : Yes. At WonderCon in San Francisco, Disney invited me to participate in a promotional appearance with Bruce Boxleitner as the character Lora from the original TRON. Bruce and I have a great working relationship. It was like we had just been filming yesterday.
Caffeinated Clint : Does that mean you’re also in the film (“TRON LEGACY”), too?
Cindy Morgan : One never knows. It is Science Fiction, anything is possible.