Impulse Gamer Interviews Jeff Bridges from True Gritt - -

Jeff Bridges Interview

Q: Hi Jeff. You are known as one of Hollywood's nicest guys, but you are also brilliant when you play a hard ass, tough guy like Rooster Cogburn in True Grit or Bad Blake in Crazy Heart. Does Jeff Bridges have a secret hard ass side?

A: (Laughs) No, I'm not a hard ass. I can play a hard ass, though, that's fun. I like to do that. 

Q: Do you think Rooster falls into that category?

A: I don't think he'd call himself that, but yeah I think other people would see him as a bit of a hard-ass. He's grumpy, an alcoholic and he has a lot of hangovers. That makes you a hard-ass. 

Q: How did you prepare for the role?

A: I referred to the book which Charles Portis wrote and I didn't refer to the John Wayne film at all. That was the direction the Coen brothers gave me and I followed that. 

Q: Knowing John Wayne won an Oscar for the same role back in 1969, it must have placed pressure on you?

A: No, I just do the best I can every time out. Actually, the first bit of direction the Coens gave me was 'We're not making a remake of the western. We're referring to the book that Charles Portis wrote'. I didn't refer to the John Wayne movie at all. I read the book and then I knew what they were talking about. It's a wonderful book and it's not something unlike the Coen brothers might make. 

Q: You shot part of this film in Austin, Texas, which is a fantastic music town. Did you perform any concerts while you were there?

A: My daughter Jessica was my assistant on this film so she was with me every step of the way and she plays guitar, sings and writes and we put on a few concerts. We did a couple in Sante Fe as well. One concert we did was specifically for the make-up department head, Tarra Day, who was on Crazy Heart. She had a stroke. We were raising some funds to help her out and did a concert on her behalf. It was cool.  We hooked up with a local band, got up there and did our thing. 

Q: What was it like working with the Coen brothers again?

A: The Coen brothers make very special, very unique films. They're fantastic. I've worked with a lot of great directors and they're all very different. Look at Scott Cooper who directed Crazy Heart. He was a first time director. He'd never even directed a high school play, never written anything and he makes that movie in 24 days. He was so gregarious and enthusiastic about it and the whole company was on fire because of his enthusiasm and it was genuine. It wasn't fake. So there's that kind of director and then you have the cooler directors, which the Coen brothers fall into. There isn't this giant excitement, but there is a coolness on set in a very good way, you know? They both get wonderful results. Look what they did with The Great Lebowski. You'd think they'd be funny guys, but no, they're not that funny. It's not like they don't have a sense of humour, but they're not like cracking jokes. They're very pleasant and they like to surround themselves with people they have worked with many times before so there's a family atmosphere on set. Scott Cooper was so different to them, yet they're all great ways to approach the work. I like both ways. 

Q: You played an alcoholic in Crazy Heart and again in True Grit. How have you managed to stay sane and clean all these years in Hollywood?

A: I definitely got hung over enough times (laughs). I think it's luck, I guess. I can see how people would go that way, but it hurts too much. Don't you think? You learn that lesson over and over again, but there are some people who don't ever learn that lesson. They get in a bad groove, but I just didn't go that way. I could be a little healthier though. I really admired my father. He was very health conscious and one of our main discussions when we were growing up would be habit. I would say 'Dad, each moment has to be fresh. You've got to live each moment like there's no other'. He said 'Yes, that's a wonderful thought, but that's not the way life is. We're habitual creatures. We develop good habits or bad habits. You want to develop good habits'. Now, all these years later, I can see his point (laughs). 

Q: How does meditating every day before you go on set help you, especially with doing something like True Grit?

A: It's important to me to just sit still and be aware of what's going on. With acting, thoughts and feelings are so much a part of that work. In meditation you become aware of what's going on in your mind. You feel all those thoughts. When you're making movies there's all these terrible things to think about like (sounds stressed) 'What's my line? How am I going to deliver this? I really want to do this right'. You can really work yourself up. Meditation helps you let go of thoughts. It makes you more aware of everything and when you quiet your own mind down you can pick up all of these wonderful things that the universe is supporting you with that you wouldn't be privy to if you were so busy listening to your own thoughts. It helps in my work. 

Q: How do the Coen brothers work together?

A: They said early on in their career, one of them wanted to take the producer spot and they wanted it filled by one of them, because they didn't want someone else coming in. What it looks like to me is that they write, produce and direct all together. Ethan walks around with a stick and I don't know what he's thinking about. Joel is the older brother and I think he says 'action'. They both come up and give you tips, like a normal director would. I feel comfortable asking either one for advice. It's very loose and there's never any fighting between them. It's quite amazing in that sense. I just love their movies. 

Q: Have they changed their directing style over the years?

A: No, not really, no. Joel cut his ponytail. That's about it (laughs). 

Q: When did you first read the book, True Grit?

A: I read it as soon as I found out about this film and it's always exciting when you're making a film based on a book because the book fills in all the gaps and answers any questions you might have.  

Q: You, of course, are a musician. What's on your iPod?

A: I just came off a great tour with Elton John, Leon Russell, John Mellencamp and Elvis Costello. T-Bone Burnett put this thing together and we just got back a couple of days ago. I had a wonderful time. So I'd have to say those albums that Bone made with Leon Russell and Elton John are great. Elvis' new album is also wonderful. I'm also into this guy, Benji Hughes and his piano player, they were on this tour. His band is just phenomenal. 

Q: Is your True Grit more violent than the original?

A: Probably, yeah. Probably a little darker too.  

Q: How comfortable are you riding horses?

A: I love it. Whenever I see a script which says I have to ride a horse, I'm happy. I have a ranch up in Montana and I had to bury my horse, but I used to love to ride up there. 

Q: What is the most challenging role you've ever done?

A: They all have their challenges in different ways. Crazy Heart was a big challenge because it involved the music and music is a big part of my life. I guess the basic challenge is, will you do this justice? Are you doing something you care about? Are you going to be able to have true grit and see it through to the end? 

Q: You have had a very long and successful marriage. What is it that makes your marriage so great?

A: I don't know. It's the mystery of love. Look at her (shows a photo from his wallet). She's not bad looking.  

Q: Are you a romantic?

A: Yeah, I believe in it but I'm not real good at it. I see other guys and I say 'I wish I could do that'. My brother for instance, he loves to buy his wife clothes. He dresses her almost like a Barbie doll. It's just not my style. I wish I was like that. 

Q: What do you do for your wife?

A: I rub her back at night. That's about it. She deserves so much more. That picture I carry around, that's romantic isn't it? I should do more of that. 

Q: What do you think is the secret of a long marriage?

A: Not getting a divorce (laughs). You know what I mean? In each marriage, especially when you've been married a while you're going to have tough times. When you reach those tough times, you draw a line and if your partner crosses that line, you think 'Well, is that it or am I going to have to enlarge my concept of what love is and be able to embrace that?' You open your heart and it means so much to you that it becomes too precious to lose. So next time you're tested you say 'I canít lose this. It's too wonderful'. Life will test that all the time.  

Q: Was it luck you met your wife?

A: Whenever I doubt if she is the woman I should be with, I think about so many moments in our relationship which have happened over the years and there is no doubt. She's my leading lady.




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