Jeff Bridges came one step closer to fulfilling his Oscar destiny by winning the Best Actor prize at last night's Screen Actors Guild awards for his performance as a run-down country singer in Crazy Heart. Here's a link to my interview with Bridges, which ran in today's paper.
I normally don't like writing actor profiles based on telephone interviews, because you miss so much of their personality and presence if you're not in the room with them. But Bridges' youthful voice and speaking manner are so distinctive, I immediately felt like I was riding shotgun in his car when he called me Tuesday afternoon while he was driving to Santa Barbara.
At the end of the interview, I asked Bridges about his upcoming one-two punch of Tron 2.0 and True Grit, both due in December. He didn't have much to say about Tron other than it was a lot of fun to make and everyone was great, blah blah blah yawners.
True Grit starts filming in March. Here's what Bridges said when I asked him how it felt to be taking on one of John Wayne's most iconic roles (and the only one to win him an Oscar): The tough old coot Marshal Reuben J. Cogburn.
"I'm not thinking of it on those terms. I get my direction from [Joel and Ethan] Coen, who aren't really thinking of it as a remake of the John Wayne movie but as another version of the novel by Charles Portis, which is a wonderful book and was very big when it came out. That's really what the Coens are referencing, and that's what I'm doing as well. I'm not really going to study The Duke's performance or anything like that. I'm just looking forward to working with Matt Damon and Josh Brolin. It's going to be a wonderful team."
I also asked Bridges how he felt towards that gigantic flop Heaven's Gate (which he co-starred in) all these years later.
"Over 50 percent - maybe it's as high as 80 percent - of the moviegoing experience depends on what kind of baggage the audience is bringing in with them and what kinds of reviews they've read. A movie like Heaven's Gate was doomed, because of that initial hysterical review [written by Vincent Canby in The New York Times] that ruined other people's experience of seeing the movie. Everyone saw it through the filter of this critic's eyes. He was supposed to know what a good movie is and he missed it."