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Jeff Bridges on Crazy Heart

Published December 14, 2009 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Fox Searchlight
Jeff Bridges plays a hard living country singer in Crazy Heart. He goes from town to town drinking it up in dive bars and bringing the local floozies back to his motel. As an actor, Bridges is a bit more successful than his character, but he can still relate to the lifestyle.

The Dude is Living Hard in Crazy Heart


“My wife told me that we’ve been apart 11 months this year,” Bridges said. “That’s tough. That’s the hardest part, for me. But, we’ve been married for 33 years and we’ve done this a lot together, so we know the routine and how much we depend on each other. It’s great to have a partner like that. But, there is a similarity to acting and singing. One of the things that’s appealing about country music, in general, is that it’s dealing with human emotions that people can relate to. We can all relate to not only the fear of failure, but the fear of success and what we do to ourselves when we get successful. Once you get to the top of the mountain, there’s only one place to go. You roll down. So, how do you deal with that? A lot of us deal with it by numbing ourselves. That’s our strategy. We slow ourselves down. So, I can relate to that, just as a human being. Just being alive, you struggle with that.”

Bridges could also relate to the film’s story of a mentor. Bad Blake’s protégé, Tommy, went on to become a huge solo star, but Tommy always remembers who gave him his break. “Well, my dad was my mentor,” Bridges related. “Unlike a lot of actors, he really encouraged all of his kids to go into show business. He loved it so much. I remember, when I was a little kid, he came up to me and said, ‘Hey, you wanna be in Sea Hunt? There’s a little part.’ That was a TV series my dad had in the ‘60s. And, I said, ‘I don’t know.’ And, he said, ‘Well, you get to get out of school. You can make some money and buy some toys.’ So, I said, ‘Okay.’ Then, I remember him sitting me on his bed and giving me the basics of acting and teaching me how to do it. And, of course, my brother is my mentor. He took up where my dad left off. We worked on scenes to get my agent.”


Crazy Heart Poster Crazy Heart


There were more mentors in Bridges’ path as he made his way in Hollywood. “I remember a big turning point in my career was doing a movie version of The Iceman Cometh, and I got to work with all these masters, like Robert Ryan, Fredric March and Lee Marvin. Most of my scenes were with Robert Ryan and I learned a lot from working with him, about fear and insecurity. I remember doing a scene with him, across the table in a bar, and we were waiting for the scene. He took his hands off the table and there were two big puddles of sweat on the table and I said, ‘Bob, gee, after all these years, you’re still frightened, nervous and scared?’ And, he said, ‘Oh, yeah. I’d be really scared if I wasn’t scared.’ That let me know that fear is always going to be with you. It’s how you deal with that. It’s hopeless to think you’re going to get rid of that.”

As Bad Blake, Bridges performs his own songs. He’s had albums “dropped” in the past , so this was just staying in character. “When I first got the script, there wasn’t any music attached to it, so I took a passer on it. And then, when I found out from my good buddy, T-Bone Burnett, that he was going to do it if I was going to do it, then that filled in that empty, missing piece. So, when he got involved, I knew the music was going to be top notch, and that got me to the party really quick.”

Crazy Heart opens to theaters on December 16th.

For the trailer and more movie info, go the Crazy Heart Movie Page.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Fox Searchlight
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