Jeff Bridges is an extremely versatile actor and has created another fascinating character in his latest film Crazy Heart. The story revolves around Bad Blake, a broken-down alcoholic country singer who lives on the road, performing his former hits in small-town dives. Bridges does all his own singing and guitar playing, with original music written by Stephen Bruton and T Bone Burnett. The cast includes Maggie Gyllenhaal as a young journalist, Robert Duvall as his good friend, and Colin Farrell, as a successful country singer.
Mirror: Was your character modeled after someone in particular?
Bridges: My biggest role model was Steven Bruton whose life parallels Bad’s in many ways. He was a working musician who played these small clubs. He shared stories about how he’d drive hundreds of miles from club to club and didn’t want to stop so he would carry a Sparkletts bottle to pee in.
Mirror: How did you prepare for the addiction aspects of your character:
Bridges: I looked to myself as I’ve been redeemed. Also, I’ve been married 32 years and in a long marriage, there’s a lot of redemption.
Mirror: Your singing in the film is pretty amazing. Who were some of the singers who influenced you and how long did you rehearse?
Bridges: Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, and Bob Dylan to name three. Also, T Bone made a wonderful graph of music that Bad might have listened to. It was pretty eclectic and even included Leonard Cohen. We had six months worth of jam sessions.
Mirror: Your performance in the film is brilliant and intensely emotional. How did you decompress after those wrenching scenes?
Bridges: I did an interview once where I was asked if I was one of those guys who take my roles home with me. I said I didn’t think I did. My wife happened to be in the room and she just rolled her eyes back. I asked, “Why did you do that Sue,” and she said, “You just don’t think you do.” I guess I’m not aware of it and suppose it just subsides.
Mirror: What is the secret to your long and wonderful career?
Bridges: My family comes to mind. I took a lot of cues from how my dad ran his career. My mother was the rock of the family who always supported him. My wife is very much like my mother and really holds us all together.
Mirror: Did you learn something specific from your dad?
Bridges: I learned the importance of reinventing yourself. I saw the frustration he had when he did his series in the 60’s called Sea Hunt. He played a skin diver by the name of Mike Nelson and pulled it off so well, that people thought he really was a skin diver. After the series ended, he got lots of scripts but they were always about skin divers, which drove him crazy. He couldn’t escape his strong persona. I really tried to avoid that. I wanted to mix it up not only for my own growth as an actor, but also for the audience to see me as different characters. There’s a song in the film called “Somebody Else,” and that’s how I feel about continuously reinventing myself.
Mirror: It’s your birthday in two days, so Happy Birthday and get your tuxedo ready!
Bridges: (Smiling) Thank you.
Jeff Bridges has been nominated four times for an Academy Award and his riveting, flawless performance in this outstanding film, seamlessly directed by writer and producer Scott Cooper, should earn him that long overdue Oscar.
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