Page is mostly known as a creature designer, but his background is in industrial design, so in a lot of ways doing Tron Legacy's computer-generated world was like going back to his roots. It was a great opportunity to think about questions like "What do our surfaces mean, theoretically? How were they built by the computer?" But Page also admits he was a bit intimidated to go out of his element. When production designer Darren Gilford approached Page about working on Tron, Page says he jokingly asked, "You know who you called, right? This is Neville. I do creatures." And his first day, Page even told Gilford that he could fire Page at any time, and there would be no hard feelings. But then Page started to rise to the challenge.
Tron Legacy was "the hardest production I've ever worked on in my life," says Page. He primarily worked on the costumes, including both Sam and Kevin Flynn, plus Quorra, the Black Guards and the Sirens. What made it so hard was that the costumes had to look totally artificial, and yet they had to be built practically, to be worn by actors. Unlike in Avatar, where Page could design stuff that Weta Digital would bring to life using CG, everything he designed for Tron had to be practical. Director Joseph Kosinski insisted he didn't want to see the slightest wrinkle on these costumes. "I'd spent the past four years doing creatures with wrinkles and scales," says Page.
EPEMOVIES: NEVILLE PAGE ON DESIGNING 'TRON LEGACY'
Tron's characters literally had to be scanned into a computer
The only way to get those costumes skin-tight enough, so they would look perfect, was to scan the actors using lasers. "We were using stuff that was as high-tech and as science fiction," says Page, "but in real life. Like doing laser-scanning, and scanning them into the computer, and then designing the costumes on the computer." Every piece of the costumes needed to be built specially for the actors. Olivia Wilde's helmet fit her face — not close, but rather [so close], it pushed her nose in and pushed her ears in. It was tight. That was done using laser scans of her and her body and sculpting stuff to the computer and fitting it with the computer and then growing the parts. Page worked closely with helmet fabricator Ironhead to make the helmets practical, including figuring out where the joins should be so that you could fit them onto the actor's head and not leave a visible seam. The helmets had to be able to come off quickly, so people could remove them to eat. Often, when you see a prop like a helmet from a movie in person, it looks shabby and "barely held together," but Page says Tron Legacy's helmets look like really high-end helmets that you'd want to buy for yourself.
How did Page go from alien creatures to Tron?
You know Neville Page as the creator of the Cloverfield monster, plus many Avatar creatures. But now, he's the guy who helped recreate Tron, and bring the Green Lantern Corps to life. He talked creatures and weird inspirations with us. We were really thrilled to get some time to talk one on one with Page, who's one of our favorite designers working in movies today. (We talked to him last year about Avatar.) Find out how Tron Legacy's sexy Sirens could have looked more like a Sorayama painting, the biggest challenge in working on Tron, and the weirdest Green Lantern character that Page worked on.
What was the hardest thing about working on Tron?