Jeff Bridges Abides, in or out of Character
Was working with T-Bone on Crazy Heart similar at all to the way you would work with a director on a movie?
JB: Uhhh...yeah, there are similarities. Certainly. One that comes to mind is [how] T-Bone did a wonderful thing for me. Bad Blake is supposed to be from Fort Worth, where Bruton and T-Bone are from. T-Bone gave me a list of all the music that he listened to growing up, which was music that Bad would have listened to. It was a very eclectic kind of mix.
It wasn't just Hank Williams and Merle Haggard, it was Ornette Coleman, who's also from Fort Worth, of course Dylan and the Beatles and Leonard Cohen, all those guys. So when we were putting all the music together, he wanted to kind of create a kind of alternative universe - something that wasn't exactly what we think of as country, but something that maybe alluded to that but wasn't copying those guys.
Was there ever a moment when you thought Crazy Heart might not get quite as big as it did?
Yeah. We were fortunate enough to have Scott Cooper as our writer and director. It was his first film that he directed, and he was so talented and skilled at that. It was a wonderful environment for all of us to work. From the very beginning we thought, "Oh, this is going to be cool." But you never know how a movie's going to turn out, creatively and artistically or financially, successfully putting [people] in theaters.
Then all these elements started to fall into place, with T-Bone and Stephen, Scott Cooper, Maggie Gyllenhaal was so great [and] Colin Farrell was so great. Fox Searchlight was our distributor, and they did a brilliant job of getting the movie out. All those elements came together and we hatched a good one, but you never know. One of those elements could have fallen out and the thing could have fallen apart.
And also we've got to mention Ryan Bingham, who wrote "Weary Kind." That was making Bone real nervous. We had to get that song and Ryan, who was originally cast as an actor in the film, came over one day and said, "Hey, I wrote this song -- maybe it'll work in the movie." I remember that day when we listened to that cassette tape, and the big smile on T-Bone's face - the sigh of relief, knowing that we had our tune.
Not just Bad Blake, but how closely have you personally identified with the musician roles that you've played?
Oh, quite close. I love music. Another movie that comes to mind is The Fabulous Baker Boys. I'm a big fan of [jazz pianist/composer/arranger] Bill Evans, who was kind of my role model for that particular film.
Do you think the Dude might have been a musician at some point in his life?
Oh, the Dude picks, I would imagine. I can see him playing an old Dan Electro or something, with a little Princeton amp. We should have had that on the set.
Jeff Bridges & the Abiders play Warehouse Live Saturday night with Run Over Twice and the Vinyl Ranch DJs. Doors open at 8 p.m.
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