Tetris: Taron Egerton says he is enjoying doing ‘grittier fare’ as he stars in film about wrangling video game rights from cold war Russia | Ents & Arts News

We’re used to seeing him in musicals and comedies, but recently he’s been expanding his filmography in gritty and hard-hitting, dramas.

His latest is no different – starring in a Cold War thriller about the retro video game Tetris.

In a story based on true events, Egerton plays Henk Rogers, a Dutch video game designer who battled Robert Maxwell to wrangle the global distribution rights to Tetris from the USSR when Cold War tensions were high, in a tale of espionage, wits and international diplomacy.

Speaking to Backstage, the TV and film podcast from Sky News, Egerton said it was an “instant yes” to getting on board.

“I didn’t know the story and I thought it was wild – it was an instant yes.”

“But I’ve made a number of films with Matthew [Vaughn]… and I kind of know how he works and the sort of tone of the things he does, and I could see what this had the potential to be.”

He’s the latest big star to step into the world of video games, following on from recent big successes such as The Last Of Us and Uncharted (originally PlayStation games), as well as the upcoming Hollywood-star packed Super Mario film.

“I think it’s because Hollywood works on recognisable IP (intellectual property) now and the games provide recognisable IP,” he told Backstage about why so many video games are being adapted for film and TV.

Though he did admit: “That’s a slightly cynical answer, but I do think it’s the truth.”

“And I think for studios that don’t have big superhero properties, video gaming is a really smart alternative for movies that have the potential to find big audiences.

“I think what’s slightly different about our movie is that it’s not really about the game – it’s a really worthwhile, exciting story about the rights to a game, but it still benefits from that recognisable IP.”

Click to subscribe to Backstage wherever you get your podcasts

The film, which is out on Apple TV+, benefits from having the real-life Henk Rogers, and the man who invented Tetris Alexey Pajitnov, on board in the writer’s room, helping to develop the project.

“We did work on the script, and we were involved from the very beginning, but frankly, when we saw it on the screen, that was like a shock for us,” Rogers told Backstage. “It was an absolutely unbelievable experience.”

Nikita Efremov and Taron Egerton in "Tetris," premiering March 31, 2023 on Apple TV+
Nikita Efremov and Taron Egerton in Tetris. Pic: Apple

“We see our lives squeeze into a couple hours in a very condensed way and it’s very truthful in spirit.”

When asked about the enduring popularity of Tetris, Rogers added: “I think that Tetris is a game that can be played by everyone – that’s the big difference.

“There is no gender or age – it was the first game that was played by women in large numbers. We broke the gender barrier… so there’s a lot of people, I would say, that were able to play games that were never able to play games before.”

Nikita Efremov and Taron Egerton in "Tetris," premiering March 31, 2023 on Apple TV+
Nikita Efremov and Taron Egerton in Tetris. Pic: Apple

Pajitnov reflected on the USSR at the time he lived there (he moved to the US in the 1990s to work with Rogers), telling Backstage: “Unfortunately, the situation now is even darker than you could see in the movie, because at that time was kind of very close to the end of the Soviet Union,

“It was also the perestroika (the restructuring of the Soviet Union) time and these kinds of events gave us some hope – unfortunately, now the situation looks much more hopeless than it used to be there.”

Tetris is streaming is out now in selected cinemas and streaming on Apple TV+.

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