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Why Jeff Bridges 'certainly did not enjoy' his thong-like 'Tron' dance belt

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Released in theaters 40 years ago this month, Tron marked a seismic moment in moviemaking as one of Hollywood’s first films to employ extensive computer-generated imagery. Steven Lisberger’s groundbreaking sci-fi adventure about a hacker (Jeff Bridges) sucked into cyberspace gladiator battles was only a modest success upon its release but became a cult classic on home video, eventually spawning the 2010 sequel Tron: Legacy.

But for Bridges, the first thing he thinks of when he hears the word “Tron” is... discomfort.

“You know what a dance belt is?,” he asked us during a 2014 Role Recall interview (watch above with Tron beginning at 1:22) before letting out a trademark chortle.

Bridges found the film’s famous glowing, skin-hugging suits that his character, Kevin Flynn, donned in digitized form rather restricting, to say the least. Especially in the mid-region.

“I don’t know how women wear those thongs,” he said. “I certainly did not enjoy that. But every day you put your dance belt on, which really made it difficult to sit down.”

TRON, Jeff Bridges, 1982 (Everett Collection)
Jeff Bridges in 'Tron' (Walt Disney/courtesy the Everett Collection)

Bridges, a visual artist himself known for his behind-the-scenes photography of movie sets, did appreciate how Lisberger and company changed filmmaking as we know it through a relatively modest approach to the medium.

The digital world was filmed in black-and-white 65mm, composited to VistaVision (a 35mm intermediate), and optically printed back to 70mm.

Or as the Big Lebowski star explained in simpler terms: “The sets were black and white and we were all in black-and-white clothing. And so it was quite primitive. This duvetyn that we see, this black stuff that you see used in movies. That was basically the set, with a white adhesive tape. And then it was all given to these Korean ladies to hand-tint each frame of the film.

“I remember coming out of that stage into the sunlight and the colors just [makes explosion sound] just rushing in.”

But as Kevin Flynn would say: “On the other side of the screen, it all looks so easy.”