Jeff Bridges, played Kevin Flynn/Clu

In the late 1950s my father, Lloyd Bridges, starred in a TV series called Sea Hunt, about a diver. He played the part so well that people thought he was a real diver. So in the early days of my career, I was always looking for scripts that were unusual. Scripts like Tron feel risky but it’s actually much harder to fail when you’re doing something so innovative. There’s nothing for the film to be compared to.

We shot in 70mm and in black and white. The sets were all made of black duvetyne, a matt, light-blocking fabric, with white adhesive tape to make the lines. Our costumes were black and white, too. Being on set was the oddest feeling – your eyes would adjust to the black and white, then you’d go outside and the colour of the every day would zoom into your eyes. It was amazing. After we shot, the footage went to Korea where women hand-painted every frame. It was very primitive and very advanced all at the same time.

I looked to the director, Steven Lisberger, for inspiration. Since he co-wrote the story, I figured my character, Flynn, was very Steven-like. I can’t remember why, but I decided to curl my hair for the part. For the scenes of me inside the computer, I had to wear these white hockey helmets. My hair had been bleached to get the curl in, and I remember it falling out because of the helmet. The peroxide would get hot and the roots would break.

Steven lined the walls of the soundstages with video games you could play for free – and, man, we studied them big time! I got into one called Battlezone that was very Tron-like. I got some high scores and had this big battle with the makeup man, which he ended up winning. They’d call me for a shot and I’d say: “No way, man! The actor is preparing!” And I’d just be on Battlezone. They’d have to yank me off – but Steven understood.

I ended up on the cover of Rolling Stone wearing my spandex uniform, which was quite humiliating. I also had to wear a dancebelt. Women have to wear those kinds of things all the time and I don’t know how they do it. You sit down and it goes right up your ass.

Technology has moved on, so rapidly, but part of the film’s charm is that datedness. New generations are getting turned on to the film, enjoying its primitive excellence, but it also brings back great memories for older fans who were kids when they first saw it. Steven had a great energy and is an innovative film-maker. I’m hoping there’ll be another one.

Bridges, Cindy Morgan and Bruce Boxleitner in Tron.

Bruce Boxleitner, played Alan Bradley/Tron

I was doing a western when my agent called and said Disney wanted to talk to me. A few days later, I was reading the script for Tron while sitting on a horse. I wasn’t in the mindset. I was thinking: “What is this gibberish?” My part was this video game warrior inside the game grid. The action aspect intrigued me but I didn’t understand half of it. I put it in the saddlebag and left it there. Some wrangler probably ended up with a first draft of this classic Disney picture.

Then I found out Jeff Bridges was attached. I’d worked with his father a couple of years earlier and he used to say I reminded him of his son. I always admired Jeff’s movies, and I knew the work of David Warner, who played the villain, so I decided to do it. When I saw the designs they’d done, it was exciting. I loved its Alice in Wonderland quality, the way it’s about going into a different world. I had to play two roles: the program and the programmer. We take all of this lightly now but it was a very new language then.

We had video games on the set until they got too distracting. I was always practising throwing my Frisbee at different angles, to prepare for the fight sequences – Steven was always goading me to see how good I could get. I damn near threw it at his head a few times.

Heroes today need an eight-pack but we were bursts of light and energy. We were electrical. It wasn’t muscular – it was more of a sleek thing and, wearing tights, we had to make sure we stayed slim. Every morning I ran five miles before work. David had to pad out his costume because he had no ass.

I flew my parents to LA for the opening and then it got dismal reviews. “I’m going back to television,” I thought. “I’m never going to be a film star.” The Hollywood honchos didn’t understand it, but those kids pumping quarters into arcade machines got it. I can’t tell you how many people have told me they’re in computer software because of Tron. It’s amazing.