An interview with Olivia Wilde

Olivia Wilde is coming back to House; but before she does, she’ll be in theaters near you this month when Tron: Legacy opens at the multiplex. In the sequel to 1982’s visual effects stunner, Wilde’s Quorra teams with Sam (Garrett Hedlund), who goes into the Master Control Program in search of his missing father, programmer Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) and battles the gladiatorial games where his father has been living for the past 25 years.

Confused? Don’t fret, Wilde will make it worth your while — if you’re not already sold — by modeling her character after Joan of Arc and sporting a toned body in a suit that gives new meaning to the phrase “skin tight.” caught up with the 2010 Hot 100 topper during a recent Tron: Legacy press junket to discuss what gay fans will appreciate about the sci-fi pic, Quorra’s look and why it was important for the character to be a role model for girls. You have a huge gay following. What do you think your gay fans will connect with in the film?
Olivia Wilde:
I think they’ll connect with much of the same things everybody else will: It’s a great story about humanity and compassion. The message of the film is that we need to remind ourselves of the beauty of human connection and nature and pull ourselves out of our devices for moment and appreciate what it is just to be human beings. That message is the same for everyone. It’s also a true love story and a family story and anyone who has a relationship — strained or not — with their father will really connect to this because in the end that’s what it’s about. It’s about a son and a father finding each other again; I find that terribly moving and powerful. Beyond all the special effects and all the beauty of this film, that’s really what is at its heart and core.

AE: Your career is really taking off with the jump to the big screen in Tron and soon Cowboys and Aliens.

OW: Tron was such a departure for me. Quorra was unlike anyone I have ever played before. I got to create someone who was unlike anything anyone had ever seen me do before. It also piqued my interest in action as well as adventure films and sci-fi. It’s something that I never thought I would do; I never saw myself quite in the genre. My experiences at Comic-Con have been so incredible. After Tron I was excited to do Cowboys and Aliens, which a very different film and a huge departure for me.

AE: When you were a teenager, did you prefer the science-fiction/fantasy or romance stories?

OW: I’ve always been a fan of science fiction. My family used to all watch Star Trek together — it was a nerdy family activity. It’s a really interesting genre and it’s all about imagination.

AE: How did you come up with your look in the film?

OW: It was a true collaboration to create Quorra, who was not in the original film. (Director) Joe Kosinski was very interested in making her a unique and unusual femme — not a femme fatale but a female heroine — that was unlike any other. We worked very hard to make her intelligent and powerful but at the same time childlike and nuanced so she would not just be there as a kind of foil for the men, not just the eye candy. That character could have easily turned into the temptress of the Tron world. She could have just been this sexy femme fatale. With a suit like that it’s easy to fall into that. Joe was adamant that she not be that.

We were inspired by Joan of Arc; I brought that concept in six months before we started shooting. Joan of Arc was this unlikely warrior, this child who could lead an army. She was unnaturally powerful and seemed to have this connection to another world, to a higher power, to be guided by something greater than her and by selflessness. And that was Quorra. And that combination of innocence and strength is unusual in characters. Once we found this a historical reference it was really fun to flesh her out. … I wanted her to be a role model for a young audience. I want girls to feel inspired by her strength and her wit and her intelligence and her compassion. It’s rare these days to have a female character in these types of movies that isn’t just there to look really sexy in a suit.

AE: How did you train for the role?

OW: I was shooting House while I was training for Tron, so I would you know wake up way earlier than anyone should ever wake up and go and do a few hours of training a day: cross-training, cardio training, martial arts training. A lot of what Quorra does in the movie is mixed martial arts. I completely physically transformed my body. I have never looked like that before and I will never look like that again. It was important in creating Quorra to transform myself physically because once I understood what it was like to be able to fight and to have those kind of muscles and to have that strength, it changed the way I walked. It changed the way I stood.

AE: Did you stop training as soon as Tron wrapped?

OW: Yes! It was such a relief; I couldn’t wait. The entire time we were shooting Tron I was planning my meal of the wrap day. I’m married to an Italian so it was all about the pasta and wine.

AE: How do you like having your own Tron action figure?

OW: This is my first experiment with [having an action figure]. I don’t think there’s a little House Thirteen doll unless I’m missing something. There should be! It’s really quite odd.

I like Carrie Fisher‘s take on it in her one-woman show, Wishful Drinking: She talks a lot about the merchandise they came out with for Star Wars, including the blow up doll. I haven’t heard of any of those being created for Quorra. But it’s a funny out-of-body experience to see some miniature version of yourself on the shelf. I’ve enjoyed the experience so far, but the second I see a Quorra blow up doll I won’t. [Laughs]

Tron opens Dec. 17. Have you bought your tickets yet?