By SIAN WATSON Associated Press
The origin story of the iconic computer game “Tetris” is more thrilling than you may think.
It involves border crossing, authority dodging, underhand deals, putting your house on the line and — finally — trying to secure the rights for the game from behind the Iron Curtain. And now it’s a film, releasing March 31, on Apple TV+.
After playing an early version of Tetris, game designer Henk Rogers (played by Taron Egerton) travels to the Soviet Union in 1988 to meet Tetris designer Alexey Pajitnov (played by Nikita Efremov), hoping to secure worldwide distribution rights to the game. Rogers was driven by his love of Tetris and his eagerness for the world to experience it, but the transaction was not smooth.
Egerton says he doesn’t have the tenacity of Rogers, who potentially put his life on the line for the sake of the game.
“I have a more developed sense of my own frailty and vulnerability than he does, I think, whereas he’s got this kind of single-minded lack of, sense of self-preservation,” he said in a recent interview.
He added: “I really like his sort of single-minded, determined devil-may-care thing. It makes him an appealing hero, you know, his kind of cowboyishness. But yeah, I probably wouldn’t have done anything like what he did to get the rights to Tetris.”
The movie is directed by Jon S. Baird, who switched projects from action sequel “Kingsman 3” because of the pandemic, bringing his leading man — Egerton — and producer Matthew Vaughn along for the ride.
“We were looking for something to do and the ‘Tetris’ script landed and we thought, ‘Right, that’s great let’s just move everything on to that.’ And that’s really what happened,” he said.
While the pandemic stopped Pajitnov and Rogers from being involved in the actual shoot, the duo was involved heavily in the scriptwriting and in detailing the imagery of Soviet Russia, much of which was recreated in Aberdeen and Glasgow, Scotland.
Baird said he was apprehensive about showing Pajitnov and Rogers the finished movie but was overjoyed at their response.
“I got a text from Maya, who’s Henk’s daughter, who’s obviously personified in the film, too and she was like, ‘They all love it. They all absolutely love the movie.'”
Egerton, known to many for portraying Elton John in “Rocketman,” says he finds playing a real-life person “odd.” However, he believes that the men he has brought to the screen have all enjoyed his portrayals, smiling that “it hasn’t blown up in my face yet!”
‘Tetris‘ will be available to stream March 31 on Apple TV+.