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Elijah Wood Is Ready To Take On The Grid (And Superman) In TRON: UPRISING [Interview]

If there’s one guy you want carting a ring around while trying to save the universe, it’s probably Elijah Wood. The Lord of the Rings actor is taking on the responsibility of saving the day once again, trading the One Ring for one disc, as the character of Beck in Disney XD’s Tron: Uprising, which officially premieres this week. In advance of the release, we chatted with Wood about embracing his inner hero, as well as his inner villain as the Cyborg Superman in Max Landis’ viral hit The Death and Return of Superman:

MTV Geek: You’ve done voice acting before, but what makes Beck different? What’s your take on him?

Elijah Wood: There’s a duality to the character. Initially when we meet him, he’s this everyman mechanic. Very talented, gifted mechanic, but average in many ways, in terms of the society on the grid. Then he makes this choice to do something, to foil Clu and Tesler’s army. He’s then forced by Tron to be this hero – reluctantly. He ultimately realizes he has the capability to do this within him.

Vocally, there’s a little bit of a duality because he parades himself as Tron in this black suit with the Tron symbol. In any of those moments there’s a weight – and gravity – to the way that he speaks that is more commanding, and more, for lack of a better word, heroic. There’s more depth to the voice. That was fun to play around with, for those scenes and moments where he’s in hero mode; vocally we made him feel that way more than the rest of time.

Even then, Beck does have a certain amount of strength and courage in him as well. I guess that’s what makes him different from other voices I’ve done before, I suppose?

Geek: Fair enough. I’ll take it!

EW: [Laughs]

Geek: I chatted with Bruce Boxleitner about how you guys read together – but didn’t record together. I was curious about how, given that you mostly weren’t in the same room, what relationships in the show popped to you? Which worked well, and which were more difficult to establish?

EW: Well, it’s relatively common to the process of recording for animation that you don’t often get a chance to record with another cast member, or multiple cast members. I guess I’m kind of used to it… It was a joy to work with Bruce, and a number of them early on. When we first started recording, and going through the material, it was mostly all of us. That really helped establish our characters, and where we are in the context of the world, and making those introductions.

But, a majority of the journey has been on my own, and solitary. And for a lot of the others as well… That said, a lot of the relationships do stand out, even in that process. The relationship between Paige and Beck is an interesting one, I’ve worked with Emmanuelle [Chirqui] a couple of times and record with her, which was a lot of fun. I’ve gotten to work with Mandy [Moore] before, too.

Paige is a really interesting character in her own right, and probably my favorite in the show. The relationship that they have is very combative, but there’s a connection as well, across these enemy lines. It’s always very intriguing, and never quite clear what Paige’s intentions are. There’s always something bubbling under the surface with that relationship, and Emmanuelle imbues that character with that under the surface energy that’s really exciting.

Geek: This may get into spoiler territory, but where is Beck going? If you look at the beginning of Tron: Legacy, the Grid isn’t, you know… Free. So is this a tragedy here, or is there a little bit of hope?

EW: Right! That’s a very good question. This does exist between the two films, so if that is, indeed true, that can’t be entirely successful because the Grid isn’t freed in Legacy. I don’t know! I don’t know what the plan is where the plot will go. It would be lovely if we did ultimately butt up again the back-end of Legacy’s time period, and finished our story leading into that. It’s always interesting when you’ve got a mythology that includes different mediums, and one leads into the next in a seamless way.

It would be very cool if we carried on and could find a way to manifest our story to lead into Legacy, so it really felt like a connective piece.

Geek: Now, here’s a silly question: which Grid game would you be best at, and who would you most like to go up against from the cast?

EW: I would probably be best at Lightcycle racing. I think it looks to me, the most fun. And I think I’d be relatively good at it, I’m a relatively good driver. I don’t know if the dangerous games would be my specialty, I think I’d fail miserably at the Disc, and be miserably derezzed in my first attempt.

Who’d I go up against? Maybe Bohdy, perhaps, or Paige, maybe Paige.

Geek: Nothing to do with Tron, but can you talk about how you got hooked into playing Hank Henshaw in Max Landis’ Death and Return of Superman video?

EW: [Laughs] It was a lot of fun. It was ridiculous. I was approached by Max, a guess about three or four months before they started shooting it. He sat down with me and explained that he had done a couple of other videos which were almost in the vein of Drunk History, but for comic books. He had proposed this idea of doing the same format on the larger scale, a lot more elements at play, and a lot more cast members, to tell the story of The Death and Return of Superman, this saga that felled the comic book world. Which I do remember, I remember owning a number of those comics.

I loved the whole idea behind it. I’m a huge fan of the format established by Drunk History, and this idea that he had which was telling the story, and ranting about his perspective on it as he had these reenactments occurring concurrently, which was just awesome. It seemed like a good couple of days of ridiculous fun to have.

Geek: Any final thoughts about Tron before I let you go?

EW: I think they’ve created something that’s incredibly cinematic, and fits really beautifully in the mythology of Tron. I’m really excited for people to see it – I’m excited for Tron fans to see it, and I think they’ll be pleased with how the world is handled. It goes beyond one’s expectations of what an animated series would be.

“TRON: Uprising, Beck’s Beginning,” a 30-minute prelude to Tron: Uprising, premieres FRIDAY, MAY 18 (9:30– 10:00 p.m., ET/PT) on Disney Channel with an encore on MONDAY, MAY 21(7:00 p.m. ET/PT) on Disney XD.