The cabanas at the Hard Rock Hotel in San Diego make for a much-needed dose of tranquility, compared to the chaos across the street at the San Diego Convention Center during Comic-Con. Recent Oscar-winner Jeff Bridges warmly welcomed us in to his temporary haven, and offered to share the fresh fruit and vegetables he was having for lunch. For this particular Five Favorite Films, we thought we’d try and change things up a bit; Mr. Bridges has an extensive filmography, so we thought we’d ask him to share five favorite films that he himself had appeared in. He was game for that, saying “I think the five I’ll give you will be ones maybe ones that are little more obscure, ones that people might not know about.” With that, here are Jeff Bridges’ Five Favorite (Jeff Bridges) Films.
I made a film not too long ago that was originally called The Moguls, and then they changed the title to The Amateurs. Written and directed by a fellow by the name of Michael Traeger. First time director, I’ve had great success with first time guys. He assembled a brilliant cast. We had Ted Danson, Glenne Headly, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Joey Pantoliano, Tim Blake Nelson, Bill Fichtner, a wonderful cast, and it was about a small town making a porn movie. This was before that movie that came out, Zack & Miri Make a Porno. Anyway, it was a wonderful film, got great laughs, and then it got picked up by a distributor who went bankrupt and took about five or six movies down with him and the movies got very small releases. It’s a film that I’m very proud of, makes me laugh, I think people will like it, so you might check that out.
Another movie that I’ll maybe bring some attention to… not one of, but I think the strangest movie that I’ve ever been involved with, with the strangest character was a Terry Gilliam movie called Tideland. And this one is really great. We had a wonderful time making it. You know, these big-budgeted movies… Fisher King was a pretty big-budget movie and Terry kind of goes after these big-budget things that need a lot of money to pull off what he has in mind. But this one was very low-tech and not a giant budget movie. We shot it in Canada and I play a junkie rock star in it for some of the film, and for a lot of the film, I’m a carcass, you know, a dead body. It’s based on a great book with the same title by Mitch Cullin, and very, very surreal. I’d even stretch it and say it’s the weirdest movie that Terry has ever made, for my tastes (although everyone’s got different tastes). But it’s macabre.
Let me talk about Last Picture Show… that’s just popped into my mind. For me, that’s a movie that is kind of like no other movie, and no other movie is like it. It just kind of sits there by itself. I guess Peter Bogdonovich is to blame for that, and of course Larry McMurtry, the great writer. We had a chance, like Tron, where we got to do the sequel to Picture Show; twenty years later we shot Texasville. There are three more installments that Larry wrote, that I’m hoping will get made.
Let me say Crazy Heart, because it’s in my head. It’s prompted where my life is going now, because with Crazy Heart, it really fired up all my music. I’ve been doing music since I was a teenager; I put out an album a few years ago and built a label with Michael McDonald and Chris Pelonis. With Crazy Heart, I got to play with my two dear friends, Stephen Bruden and T-Bone Burnett, who I met on Heaven’s Gate, thirty years ago or something like that. With this music that was stirred up with Crazy Heart, now I want to continue doing that. So I’m going to take the rest of the year and get into my music; I’ve formed a little band up in Santa Barbara, where we’ve been playing some local gigs and we’re going to go out and play some more. That’s going to be fun.
You know what movie popped into my mind? Bad Company. Do you know that movie? This was Robert Benton’s first film, another first-time director that I had great success with. Gordy Willis shot it, you know, the guy who shot The Godfather. This one takes place in the 1860s. It’s about two guys, myself and Barry Brown (a wonderful actor who’s no longer with us), that are running away from the draft of The Civil War, so they decided to go West. An interesting sideline to that; we get a band of guys that fall in with us, John Savage is one of those guys, and who do we run into during our travels but David Huddleston. You know who he is… the Big Lebowski!
RT: Is Tron: Legacy the only other sequel you’ve done, apart from Texasville?
Jeff Bridges: Yeah!
What lured you back 30 years later?
Pretty much the same thing that brought me to the original party, which was taking advantage of the most up-to-date technological advancements. This film was certainly chock-full of that kind of stuff. You know, making a movie without cameras, using these optical sensors; it’s fascinating.
Does the new technology change how you’re working?
Very much so. It’s actually made the whole acting process come full-circle; I think of acting as coming out of a child’s imagination. When we were kids, we pretended to be things. And then as you become a professional actor, you get to wear the costumes, and be on the sets. Those outer elements make it easier for you to get into the reality of where you are as the character. And you learn how to work with the camera, and the lighting and so forth. Now, with this motion capture technology, where there are no cameras, you’re in tights with sensors, black dots on your face, and a hundred of these optical sensors pointing at you, and everything, from the costumes, make-up, camera angles, lighting, the set, everything is done in post-production. So if they say “Let’s start this scene on Jeff’s ear, and we want to whip by and go around his hand,” it’s all done in post. Initially, that kind of rubbed against my acting fur. As I was saying, I like to have the costume and such, that all adds to the experience. So the big challenge for me was to lose my resentment, because there’s nothing like resentment to be the biggest buzzkill going. In that resentment mode, it’s very hard to let the good stuff come out; you want to be relaxed, and enjoying it to a degree. Once I recognized that resentment in myself, I worked at dancing to the tune that was being played. It was like you’re going to party and they’re playing Viennese waltz, and you came here to cha-cha, man, and I’m f—ing pissed, you know? So you have to dance the dance that’s being played. Once I got into that groove, I noticed it was very much like pretending when you were a kid, when you didn’t have all the fancy costumes and sets, and you had to do it in your mind. That’s a new kind of skill, and it will be interesting to see how it’s developed in the future; you know acting schools and teachers will deal with that. It’s a different thing.
Tron: Legacy, starring Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, and Olivia Wilde, opens in the US on December 17.
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