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One World Cinema


Sharon Abella and her blog 1worldcinema report on the industry from New York and th emany festivals she is attending, she is a regular contributor to filmfestivals.com


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Interview with Jeff Bridges

Actor in "The Last Picture Show", "The Fabulous Baker Boys", "The Big Lebowski", "Fisher King", "Tucker",  "Seabiscuit", and most recently, "Crazy Heart".  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q: "What point did you enter the project, 'Crazy Heart'?"  

A: "Gee, I do my best to try to avoid going to work, because I know what it entails. If anything, it means I have to be away from home.  My wife, Sue, told me recently that out of the last fourteen months, I've been gone eleven.  Now that's tough.  Another reason I don't like to engage in a project is because you never know what's going to be just around the corner there might be something else. I do my best to try to not engage.  I liked the script, I have a passion for music, so I took a chance on it.  A year later, I ran into my friend, T-Bone Burnett, and he said, "What do you think about this movie, this script?  I'll do it if you do it.", and that's kind of how it happened. The real birth of the music from this movie goes back 30 years to 'Heaven's Gate', when Kris Kristofferson, the star of 'Heaven's Gate', brought some of his friends on board, and T-Bone Burnett was one of those guys, and to me that movie was all about the jam sessions we would have after work. It was 6 months of jamming with these guys, making music, and now 30 years later we make this movie. "

Q: How much did you actually participate in the writing of the music?

A: "I was in the room when most of these songs were being written, but most of these songs were written by Stephen Bruton.  A friend of mine, John Goodwin,  who he and I go back to the fourth grade together, wrote the opening song, 'I've Got a Hold on You'. Also, Greg Brown, he wrote the song, 'Brand New Angel'.  

Q:  "Tell us about your music"

A:  "I wrote an album a few years ago called, "Be Here Soon".  It's pretty ecclectic. John Goodwin songs, he's currently a writer in Nashville, he's pretty ecclectic too.  I'm all over the map, musically."

 

Q: "Crazy Heart" was a 24 day shoot. Was it rigorous?"

A: "Scott Cooper who wrote it and directed it, never even directed a high school play before. It's crazy. I've worked with a lot of first time directors. Steve Clovis, who was 23 when he wrote that. So it doesn't put me off that they are first time directors. Scott is one of the best directors I've ever worked with. A lot of seasoned directors may not be interested in your ideas, and that wasn't the case with Scott. I felt like I had all the time in the world, I never felt rushed. Scott is an actor too. "

Q: The skin between the actor and director is very thin.

A: "Not only with the director, but just everyone. The cast and crew. It feels like we are all in it together."

Q: Maggie Gyllenhall and you work so great together. Were you involved in her casting at all?

A: "She's on the top of my list. She was my # 1 choice for casting. I've been following her movies, 'Secretary', 'Sherry Baby'. 

Q: Your character in "Crazy Heart" is scraping the bottom in both his life and career, but yet seem to have hope, dignity and pride.  How do you deal with these conflicting elements?

A: "A lot of it is from the script, that's where you start, a lot of it is what people say about you and then a lot of it is what the character in the book of which the script was based on. It's from a book by Thomas Cobb.  So I start with that and then look at different aspects of myself, I might use, and might match that up a bit. I look from people that I know personally to draw from. Stephen Bruton from 'Heaven's Gate', I can ask him questions, "What do you do in this instance?" 

Q: "Did Stephen Bruton go through a bad patch?

A: "He had trouble with booze and cocaine. He died shortly after the movie "Crazy Heart" was completed.  60 year old guy, which was sad.  He was in great shape when we were making the movie."

Q:  Your range is extraordinary.  You can play a compassionate person, a corporate villain, down and out dude.  Which is the most challenging, and which is the easiest?

A: "The ones that are the easiest, are the most difficult in a way. This one, "Crazy Heart" was so attractive to me because of all the music was so wonderful, and working with my friends.  It's like a wide receiver going out for that long ball, and that creates a lot of anxiety and suffering. You don't want to blow it.  The other roles, the ones where you are so far removed, in a way, it's less of a risk."

Q: The critics have used the words "effortless" and "natural" to describe you ever since you began. Where do you find this quality. They don't define other actors this way."

A: "Probably my dad, he was my teacher.  He loved showbiz, so much that he wanted his kids to be in showbiz. I remember being about 8 years old, and him saying there's a part, you get to get out of school, make some money, buy some toys.   But, I love the movies myself, and the kind of actor I aspire to is the kind that isn't trying to make the audience feel a certain way."

Q: Tell us the charming story about your mother and her journal.

A: "My mom died about a year ago.  She kept a diary everyday of her life for 60 years. She's a wonderful writer. If you are interested in a book she wrote, "You Caught me Kissing", which was released on Valentine's Day.  It is a book of poetry.  She wrote for my father. Some of the poems are sweet, and some are angry.  She wrote poems for all of us kids.  My sister started this book , where my mom and her would pass this book back and forth. We all started to pass this journal back and forth. Unfortunately, I think I lost mine, I hope I find it.  My mom was also an actress.  My parents met at UCLA. My dad was president of the Drama Department, and had studied with Michael Chekhov, and she had encouraged all her kids to go into acting.  Everyday, she would spend one hour a day with each kid and we would do what we wanted.  When I was little, I would say, "Let's play spaceman", and when I was a teenager, I would say, "Mom, can you rub me, massage me?" She also encouraged us to put on a family shows. Acting is really an advanced pretend."

Q: Have you ever thought of directing?

A: "I've thought about it. I'd like to at some point.  A lot of it involves so much risk.  A lot is finding the right project that you feel strongly about.  Another thing that is so important with a first time director, is that each experience is different. My favorite experience is when the directors are inclusive.  Scott was so open and allowed me to come into the editing room and allowed me to give editing ideas. I liked the openness.  It is kind of rare to have an actor in the editing room. I appreciated it."  

Q:  What is your style?  Do you like to do many takes, rehearsals, improvise?

A:  "I like rehearsal, I like to do as many takes as I feel, I like to improvise, but I really like to stay loose.  Each movie is like playing a card game with a new set of guys, it's completely different, so if you get too locked in...  I remember doing 'Iron Man', and you would think that with a $200 million movie, that they would have a script, but I realized what we were doing was making a $200 million student film. "

Q:  "Have you ever felt as if a director has used you as their alter ego?"

A: " I would imagine that happens all the time, a lot of it unconsciously.  I try to represent the director.  I remember I was doing "The Vanishing", the original was better than ours.  In the American version they let me get away with it."

Q: Did you enjoy working with John Huston in "Fat City"?

A: "I have a bunch of good John Huston stories. I was a pretty young kid when I did 'Fat City', I was kind of jealous of  Stacy Keach, because John was very kind to Stacy, they would play backgammon, and they would laugh and tell jokes. He would tease me, and keep me on my heals and never let me settle, and looking back on it, I see that that was kind of a directing choice."

Q: John Huston would say, "to show the importance of the man, you would have to have a more important houseman. 

A: "John carried that director thing into "Winter Kills". He would ask Bill Richert, on how to direct the other actors.  John was quite ill when we shot "Winter Kills".  He had to use oxygen all the time, and had an oxygen tank, yet still smoked cigars all the time, while using the oxygen. I remember in the last scene in "Fat City", when Stacy and I are in the bar/diner, and we didn't know if John was asleep or dead, and all of a sudden, John would wake up and say, 'I've got it, now Stacy when you turn around, and look out, I want everyone in the bar to just stop. We would say, John, we could just freeze frame.  John would reply, 'no, no, no.'  He was something, he was the greatest." 

 

Q: Are you a part of "The Big Lebowski" conventions?

A: "I had my Beatle moment at one of those conventions.  I performed at one of those conventions.  I'm really happy about how that turned out.  When the movie came out, it didn't do anything. It didn't do much. Now it has kind of an underground following, and festivals.  It's a great movie, a masterpiece. One of my favorites. God, can those guys make movies."

 

 

 

Sharon Abella

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About One World Cinema

ABELLA Sharon

Sharon's other Blog: www.1worldcinema.com

 


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