Olivia Wilde: "The Professional Inspired My Character"

The actress discusses her performance in this week's TRON: Legacy.

It's going to be a busy year ahead for Olivia Wilde. The former O.C. and House M.D. regular will soon be seen opposite Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig in Jon Favreau?s forthcoming sci-fi actioner Cowboys and Aliens, after which she'll co-star with Ryan Reynolds in the comedy, The Change-Up. And this week, she's appearing in a little motion picture called TRON: Legacy, Disney's ambitious big-budget sequel to their 1982 cult classic. In it, Wilde plays Quorra, a digital warrior and prodigy of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) who teams up with new hero Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) inside the Grid. We caught up with the actress recently for a quick chat about her character in the film.

RT: How was the experience of making this?

Olivia Wilde: I had a great time. I think the movie is a celebration of what it is to be human -- despite the advancement in technology, we can't lose track of why it's better to be a human than to be a program.

And the program never ages -- it's like the Hollywood program.

[laughs] Oh I would hate that, to never age. It think that it's very sad, that -- the idea of staying alive forever and never aging. I look forward to aging. Even in my short life so far I think that I've become a happier and better person.

So, given the chance, you wouldn't upload yourself into a program the way Flynn does, if it meant your avatar could live forever?

Could I come out? No, because I think that even Kevin Flynn is trapped. The beautiful dream of Flynn is that he created the TRON program, or he created the Grid, I should say, so that he could experiment inside this controlled environment and solve the problems of the user world within this artificial world. That's a beautiful ideal, and certainly if we could experiment and have expanded time frames maybe we could do that.

But I don't think it's something I'm attracted to, because my relationship to technology is not quite that enthusiastic. I have embraced it in as much as most people have, and I think that it's made my life more interesting in terms of creativity and in terms of my connection to the world with people far away. -- and certainly learning how to take control of the perception of you a s a celebrity. But my relationship with technology is that I'm appreciative of it, I respect it, but it's not something that I would meddle with in the way that Flynn did. I hope that the message of the film is that it can be dangerous if you let it swallow you up.

Were there any other characters or films that you looked to as inspiration for Quorra?

I mostly based Quorra on Joan of Arc. The source material I used most was Mark Twain's book about Joan, which is a beautiful novel. Once I'd made the connection that Joan, like Quorra, was the unlikely warrior -- a child leading an army, working for a higher purpose, completely selfless -- it clicked for me, and I suddenly understood who Quorra was. In terms of her relationship to Flynn I thought a lot about The Professional, because Quorra is his student and his protector and they've lived together in TRON years for hundreds of years. He is secluded and she keeps him safe, but she learns everything about the user world and spirituality from him; she's almost his adopted daughter. So The Professional came to mind when creating that element of her.

But I haven't seen anything like her in sci-fi, and I'm a big fan of sci-fi and heroines like Ripley; but she's not Ripley -- she's pretty different. She's a child, and I liked the juxtaposition of her sexiness, that comes from her warrior nature, with her childlike innocence and her compassion. I thought that made her interesting. But I think we were able to make her weirdly androgynous in a way. She's not a sexualized character, which would have been really easy to do -- but we didn't go down that route, which I thought was great.

TRON Legacy is in theaters this week.


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