Jeff Bridges Made Digitally Younger for ‘Tron: Legacy’

Hollywood has managed to make lots of actors appear older in films with the clever use of make up.  But few and far between have been the times that they’ve managed to make an actor look considerably younger than his or her years.

Enter the wonders of CGI! 

In “Tron:  Legacy,” which opens in theatres this Friday, the 61 year-old Jeff Bridges reprises his role of Kevin Flynn at his natural age – but he also plays Clu, an avatar in the digital world who basically hasn’t aged since the original film, which was released in 1982.  In other words, Bridges will play a 61 year old and a 35 year old – simultaneously.

The effect was achieved by making a silicone model of Bridges’ face, photographing the model, and then giving the mold a digital face lift to remove lines and wrinkles, and to shrink his nose and ears.  The whole effect isn’t meant to mirror exactly what Bridges looked like at the time of the first movie, but rather what he would have looked like a few years after that, when, according to the movie’s mythology, the current version of Clu was created.

To achieve realistic movements, Bridges facial expressions were also filmed and computerized to achieve the 3-D effect.  And as Bridges filmed his “Clu” scenes, tiny cameras mounted on a helmet captured his facial movements to further refine the effect.  His digitally youth-enhanced face was then grafted onto the body of a younger actor, John Reardon, who mimicked Bridges movements to ensure fluidity.

Director Joseph Kosinski believes the technology has far reaching implications.  “I think this technology opens up really interesting opportunities for actors,” remarked the director.

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