Tron Legacy: Light Suit Costume – Part 2

Part 2 of our detailed look at the costumes in Tron Legacy. After examining the overall creation and construction of the light suits, we have now moved onto specific design elements for individual characters.

Garrett Hedlund as Sam Flynn

The only son of Kevin Flynn, Sam is 27 years old, daredevil, rebellious and haunted by the unexplained disappearance of his father. He is sucked into the Grid while following up a mysterious message apparently sent from inside his father’s old video games arcade.

Hedlund’s primary costume is a disc game suit. It was far and away the most difficult for associate costume designer Christine Bieselin Clark and her team to get light into and unsurprisingly it also ate the most PP3 9V battery life, lasting only 10 minutes per charge maximum. Entry to the suit was via asymmetric zip running the length of the spine and carefully integrated into the seam.

Repeatedly climbing in and out, however, took time so ‘special provisions’ were made for bathroom breaks. Sitting down was also impossible due to the fragility of the light connectors. Instead stand-up ‘resting boards’ were made for Hedlund and others to relax on between takes.

The headgear Sam dons for his disc game is directly influenced by a hockey helmet, which incidentally in the original Tron (1982) was actually a hockey helmet, albeit slightly modified. The visor is based on high end production surfaces akin to those found in the automotive industry. As with most of the cast, Sam’s helmet was sketched on computer imaging program ZBrush then literally grown by laser from a vat of polymer.

An interesting further note about Garrett Hedlund’s costume design is in his transition from real world to Grid. The leather jacket by Lot 78 and hooded top worn for Sam’s trip to the arcade becomes something else as he is pulled into the Grid (before being fitted into his light suit by the ‘Sirens’).

Christine was reluctant to explain exactly what happens but did confirm “there is no cotton in the Grid”. Look closely at the scene proceeding Sam’s entrance in the Grid and the first dwellers he comes into contact with are wearing similar clothes. Seemingly unimportant costume touches can often mean so much when viewed in context.

Olivia Wilde as Quorra

Quorra essentially acts as Kevin Flynn’s surrogate daughter within the Grid. He teaches her about his real life home and in return she offers unflinching loyalty. Yet her yearning for this ‘user world’ grows ever stronger and Sam’s arrival only ignites her interest further.

Intended as a warrior character, Quorra is also playful and inquisitive. She wears the beginnings of a skirt, in addition to long wedge heel boots and a far sleeker, asymmetric bodysuit.

For her headgear, lead helmet designer Neville Page wanted to capture Olivia Wilde’s likeness: strong jaw, cheekbones and forehead, yet still retain an androgyny, as the first time we are introduced to Quorra her voice is heavily disguised; we are not meant to know if she is man or woman.

The shoulders of her suit are cut-away to exposure glimpses of porcelain white (an important Grid colour). Quorra is not human, though she has human tendencies by extension of her creator. This qualifies details such as the cut-outs and asymmetric half-skirt in her costume.

Michael Sheen as Castor.

An artful program designed to retain a wealth of information and adapt to changing circumstances, Castor owns a bar within the Grid, the End of Line Club, situated at the farthest reaches of an impossibly tall tower.

Castor does not wear a full light suit (he is not a combatant), so his clothing is not necessarily designed to function. Instead it is outrageous and full of characterisation. This was Christine’s most enjoyable aspect of the production because working with Michael Sheen meant it was a truly collaborative process. Sheen was willing to try anything in order to make Castor leap from the page. Comparisons to David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust are obvious, though this look came together as an amalgamation of ideas.

It all started with his footwear; silver high heel boots, then long gloves and then a corset. His coat was made from upholstery as an original design by Christine Clark. The only time she felt they went too far with the ‘campiness’ was in initial make-up tests. Though, judging by the end result, any restraint applied was comparative.

Castor is joined at the End of the Line Club by silver clad Sirens, represented by their leader Gem (Beau Garrett). Little is known of the Sirens at this stage, only that their beauty makes them welcome anywhere on the Grid. Though their mystery may be more than an act – could they be quietly hatching plans of their own?

James Frain as Jarvis (left)

Jarvis is CLU’s main henchman, proficient in intelligence gathering.

Jarvis’ distinctive headgear is intended as a glass Mohawk. The character is bald so to ensure the visor ‘floated’ above James Frain’s head a prosthetic was glued to his skull and then magnetised to the glass. Practically this ensured Frain was able remove the screen to dress and eat with minimum of fuss.

Black Guard

These are CLU’s Grid sentries. They are armed with either discs, a staff or double batons.

As with Sam’s hockey helmet, homage was paid to the original film by reinstating memorable iconography; in this case a respirator (gas mask) that hung from the Head Guard’s throat. This is an organic costume, however, in that it follows lines of the body, thus more difficult for the design team to include architectural forms into the whole.

The rear portion of the Black Guard suit houses a backpack that unfolds into a ‘Tron Chute’. This required Neville Page to envisage even the underside of the character’s boots. He explains:

You don’t often have to design the bottom of shoes, but everything in this film is thoroughly, thoroughly detailed. We showed a quick animation of how the ‘Tron’ chute would ‘de-res’ into the costume. Fortunately we didn’t have to do that practically.

Anis Cheurfa as Rinzler

Rinzler is CLU’s warrior henchman, fearless and unquestionably loyal to his master. In Page’s own words, “He is the badass”.

The ‘ant head’ shape of Rinzler’s helmet came from an original sketch by conceptual designer Ed Natividad. Tron Legacy director Joseph Kosinski liked the idea so much that he requested it as focal point of the costume. Rinzler carries double disc weapons to reflect his position as the most agile on ‘court’. His form language is somewhat altered from the rest of the cast in that bone lines travel throughout his body suit. Anis Cheurfa is proficient in French free running discipline Parkour, so much of his physical action on screen was filmed for real.

Overall, costume design for Tron Legacy has been more a collaborative endeavour than on most features. Yet, as the script was largely written the same way, in fits and starts from an optimistic premise largely dependant on technological progress, this is not wholly surprising. The result is as exciting and new as one might expect. With as much to interpret as to admire.

Christine Bieselin Clark and Neville Page were interviewed at Digital Domain in Los Angeles, September 2010.

© 2010 – 2014, Lord Christopher Laverty.