The world premiere of “Tetris” gave the crowd at South by Southwest a whole new look at Taron Egerton.
From his first appearance on screen, the Austin audience couldn’t keep quiet, cheering and applauding for his impassioned speeches, dad jokes and 1970s porn-stache.
The film, which reveals a political thriller hidden within the history of its titular video game, stars Egerton as designer and entrepreneur Henk Rogers. After a simple deal at a Las Vegas electronics convention goes wrong, Rogers finds himself embroiled in overlapping conflicts between every gaming company worth its salt, an English billionaire and the Soviet Union itself, with his life threatened multiple times along the way.
The story behind “Tetris” is true — in part, anyway. The real Henk Rogers appeared for a post-screening a Q&A alongside Alexey Pajitnov, the Russian designer behind the game, played by Nikita Yefremov in the film. If SXSW was excited to see Egerton, they were completely in awe of Rogers and Pajitnov, who received a standing ovation as they were introduced onstage.
As moderator, SXSW Film and Television director Claudette Godfrey asked the “Tetris” team which of the film’s erratic events were accurate and which required more creative license. They were mum to divulge the details.
“All of it is emotionally true,” said screenwriter Noah Pink with a grin.
Pajitnov concurred: “It was emotionally and intellectually and spiritually a very truthful movie.”
Godfrey pushed, asking about the reality of a scene where Rogers signs a document of secrecy to two Nintendo employees, who then show him a prototype of the Game Boy — the company’s first-ever foray into handheld devices.
“I’m still under the NDA,” Rogers joked.
Egerton found that working on “Tetris” reunited him with his favorite things about his job.
“I think what I particularly connected with about the script is quite universal, because despite it being an extraordinary story — a global phenomenon, well-recognized — is really the story of a friendship between two guys from two very different geographic places and ideologies, but they bond over something quite childlike,” he said. “It’s the love of play. And I’m an actor and that’s what I do.”