Jeff Bridges Is Anti-De-Aging in Movies Ever Since ‘Tron’ Turned Him Into Bill Maher

Bridges found his digital de-aging in ‘Tron: Legacy’ to be completely uncanny and profoundly unfunny
Jeff Bridges Is Anti-De-Aging in Movies Ever Since ‘Tron’ Turned Him Into Bill Maher

New rule — only the makeup department is allowed to mess with Jeff Bridges’ wrinkles.

At 74 years old, Bridges isn’t exactly the superficial ideal for a Hollywood leading man that he once was. Like so many stars before him, Jeff “Lebowski” Bridges has had to adjust to the reality that film and television are shallow mediums, and anyone his age, as gracefully as they may have matured, will only be put under more and more pressure to appear younger than their years the further they postpone their retirement. Which, in Bridges case, will be a little while longer, as he’s just agreed to reprise his iconic role as the master programmer/hacker Kevin Flynn/Clu in the upcoming third installment of the sci-fi film series Tron, a franchise that Bridges helped launch back in 1982 when Hollywood wanted older actors to look more like him.

Bridges recently spoke to The Film Comment podcast about returning to a role he began playing over 40 years ago and the way the advancement in filmmaking technology has further complicated older actors’ relationships with their on-screen representations. During the conversation, Bridges lamented the infamous de-aging effects that were used to make him look more youthful in the 2010 film Tron: Legacy, “I felt like I looked more like Bill Maher than myself.”

“When I did Tron 2Tron Legacy, we had to put all these dots on our face and all these kinds of things,” Bridges recalled of his time working on the 2010 sequel to the ground-breaking sci-fi-classic. “I had to see myself as a young guy or as another character, but the same guy, but it was gonna be digitally created. I think it was (de-aging), but I didn’t like the way I looked in it,” he recalled of the VFX department’s attempts to make Clu look like he had a podcast devoted to complaining about twenty-somethings who drive hybrid light cycles.

The upcoming Tron film, Tron: Ares, is set to premiere next year, but, as Bridges posited during the podcast episode, the effects department for the sci-fi film will not lean nearly as heavily on the advancements in de-aging technology as those responsible for the uncannily unfunny late-night host who somehow appeared in the second movie. Bridges claimed that “there’s going to be even less A.I. stuff” in Tron: Ares than there was in Tron: Legacy, and the new film’s director, Joachim Rønning, is even doing away with the green screen.

Bridges revealed that Tron: Ares will utilize “practical sets” for many of the scenes set in “The Grid,” saying, “There are beautiful sets that I’ve seen.” Hopefully none of those sets are Studio 33 at CBS’ Television City, or else we should worry that Clu’s going to condescendingly stare into the camera and demand applause every time he tosses an identity disk.


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