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The building of a legacy

Marshalltown native directs new Tron movie

December 6, 2010

Growing up in Marshalltown, the only connection Joseph Kosinski had to Hollywood was grabbing a couple of Maid-Rite sandwiches and walking to the Orpheum to watch movies.

Times sure have changed since his childhood.

Kosinski, a 1992 Marshalltown High School graduate, is director of the Disney movie "Tron: Legacy" which hits theaters in all of its 3D glory on Dec. 17. The movie is a remake of the 1982 cult film favorite "Tron."

Article Photos

Joseph Kosinski poses on the set of the film “Tron: Legacy,” which he served as director. Kosinski is a 1992 Marshalltown High School graduate. The film is due out in theaters Dec. 17.

This is Kosinski's big break into the movie directing business after spending the last several years directing commercials and short films. He originally got into the field of architecture which allowed him to hone his skills with computer-generated graphics. It was this type of work which translated well into short films with digital imagery and led him to land a Nike commercial which started the ball rolling.

Kosinski, 36, spoke with the Times-Republican on the phone Sunday from London, just hours before the United Kingdom premiere of the movie.

"I have really fond memories of growing up there," Kosinski said of his time in Marshalltown. "I miss those wide open spaces and as a kid you just had so much freedom. I got to spend so much time outside with my BB gun and riding my moped."

Kosinski's family moved to Marshalltown when he was 5 and he lived here from 1979 to 1992. He is the son of the longtime Marshalltown doctor Joel Kosinski and Patricia Kosinski, who no longer reside in town. He said he still makes his way back to the area occasionally to visit his brother Jeff and said he did make his way to Maid-Rite on his last trip.

"Tron: Legacy" stars Academy Award winner Jeff Bridges, Olivia Wilde and Garrett Hedlund. It is about a young man (Hedlund) who looks into the disappearance of his father (Bridges) and gets pulled into the digital world where his father has been trapped for 20 years.

Bridges is fresh off his Oscar win for his starring role in "Crazy Heart."

"I was really lucky to get Jeff Bridges to sign on first," Kosinski said. "I think he is one of the best actors working today."

The challenge for a director of a film that is using so many computerized special effects is being able to line up the actors for shots where much of the imagery is added later.

"You have to see it beforehand so when you're shooting you have to know what it looks like," Kosinski said.

In the end Kosinski said he is proud of the film and the three years of work put into it. Despite the long hours, he called being a director the greatest job in the world.

The movie will be screened several times locally at the Plaza 9 Theatres in Marshalltown beginning with a midnight showing at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 17.

"I wish I could be there," Kosinski said when told of the local opening.

For its size, Marshalltown has a storied history when it comes to show business from actors like Jean Seberg, Mary Beth Hurt and Toby Huss. Now, it seems Kosinski - who has two more directorial projects in development with Disney - is keeping the the tradition alive.

"I think it's important to know you don't necessarily have to have any connections (to Hollywood)," he said. "It's all about your desire. It's about pursuing your passion and following your dreams."


Contact Andrew Potter at 641-753-6611 or



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