- Career Timeline
- Season 1
- Episode 96
Jeff Bridges Breaks Down His Career, from 'The Big Lebowski' to 'The Old Man'
Released on 07/19/2022
Momentum has a lot to do with it.
That's kind of, how I roll.
This is been my path in life.
Like I said, I may resist it
but I notice as I look back, I said,
This is what you do man.
Hello, I'm Jeff Bridges
and this is the timeline of my career.
Well, I initially wasn't attracted
to acting and that's probably
because my parents wanted me to become an actor
and what kid wants to do what their parents want 'em to do.
I had a lot of other interests.
Music and art, painting and so forth.
And my father, Lloyd Bridges, he said,
Jeff don't be ridiculous.
That's one of the wonderful things about acting.
You get to explore all of those interests
that you have and you're gonna be called upon
to do all those things.
And I resisted and resisted and maybe I did 10 movies
before I finally said,
Oh yeah, this is something I can do.
This is, there's a lot of joy in this
and I really enjoy working with all these other artists.
So I'm glad I followed the old man's instruction on that.
[Man] May I?
My first credit was in a movie called
The Company She Keeps at six months old.
It was a movie directed by John Cromwell
and Jane Greer, a wonderful actress
was supposed to be holding a little baby
and my mother said, Oh, here hold my son
and I was a very happy baby.
And I was supposed to cry in the scene,
be kind of a whinger.
So my mom said to Jane, Oh, just pinch him, he'll cry,
so she pinched me and I cried.
And now we cut, oh, maybe 30 years later
and I'm making a movie called
Against All Odds with Jane Greer,
she was in the original called Out of the Past
and we had a scene together
and I'd say, Jane, I'm having trouble.
I can't quite get the emotion.
Could you just pinch me?
And she pinched me,
I was able to achieve the emotion that I was going for.
Jane Greer, amazing actor.
You really asking my girl for a date?
You turn me loose.
I'll turn you loose any time you're ready to fight,
come on, let's have it out.
I think I might have been
the first guy cast in that movie.
Casting is such an interesting,
important part of making movies.
It's probably 99% of what it takes
to make something successful.
But in my case with Last Picture Show
I, from what Peter said, I walked through the door
and boom that would,
the character walked through and oh that's the guy.
I can remember having launched with Tim Bottoms
and Cybill and we're having lunch
and we weren't allowed to see any of the dailies,
the stuff that we'd shot the day before,
Peter was very private about that stuff.
But we had this feeling
and all of us were pretty green at the time
but we said, Man something feels special
about this thing, doesn't it?
Yeah, it sure does, and it was,
I think that movie that just kind of stands by itself.
It's not like any other movie and no movie's like it,
it just hangs there, beautiful, beautiful film.
Peter, who we lost recently,
what an amazing filmmaker.
I still was thinking,
you know I'm not sure if I want to do this,
make this my career.
I was still kind of wondering what I was gonna do
but it felt, gosh, it felt amazing to get that recognition.
Well, Merry Christmas, come on let's have some fun.
[Man] I recognize it.
Oh, well he was so innovative.
Steven Lisberger I believe it was his first movie.
There was nothing like it, I mean,
we shot it in 70 millimeter, black and white.
All the sets were black duvetyne
with white adhesive tape on them
and all of hand tinted by women in Korea.
I mean, it was just a bizarre idea
and the sound stage, lined with video games
that we could all play for free.
And I would get on, I remember a game called Battle Zone,
this tank thing, and I'd be called to the set.
And I said, No, man, I'm preparing,
I'm preparing for the show.
And I would get in there to get into the world.
[Man] Taking him into the maze.
Well that, you know, that CGI thing,
I've done, quite a bit of it since then
but that is like the,
the most primitive form of acting
that goes right back to your childhood
where you have to pretend,
there's no giant Cyclops you've gotta,
you've gotta conjure that up for everybody.
It was such an, so unusual.
And it's funny, I think doing things that,
it seems like it's more risky to do something so unusual
but in in a way I think it's safer
because there's nothing to compare it to, it just,
sits there by itself.
Being what it is.
Rose, I have a theory about love and sex.
Does anybody want coffee?
Oh, I'd love some.
Regular or decaf?
I can make cappuccinos.
What I remember was having a wonderful time with Barbara
and what a great director she is,
you know she gets a lot of,
I don't know, I guess flack in a way
or she's kind of known for being a perfectionist,
but to have that perfection directed towards you,
it's a wonderful feeling.
She was, really wanted to make sure
that I was, getting everything I needed
and you know, how I felt she was,
wonderfully inclusive and had a great vision for herself
but open at the same time,
that's my favorite kind of director.
I think one of the things about actors and directors
each actor, needs something different from a director
and the directors that can, read that
and give the actors what they need to relax
and so the best work can come through,
I think it's very important,
she certainly knew about that.
We had a wonderful time,
but I enjoyed working with her very much.
Greg, why don't you come to the kitchen and help me.
[Mother] Rose, why don't you go put the coffee on.
Mother, I made dinner,
why don't you put the coffee on.
Walter how am I gonna--
Call the fucking shots.
[The Dude] Oh, that's it, I'm outta here.
Oh, come on, Dude.
You just tell 'em, tell 'em we made the drop
and everything went, you know?
Oh yeah, how'd it go?
Well, all right, Dude's car got a little dinged up.
Walter, we didn't make the fucking hand off, man.
They didn't get the fucking.
They said, Jeff, We've written something for you, man.
I said, Oh wonderful.
I was a big fan of their,
Blood Simple and their early stuff
and then I got the script and I said,
Wow, you guys must have been spying on me
in some of my, you know, high school days or something.
This is, you know, wonderful.
It's nothing like I've ever played before,
I don't know why you've got me in mind
but I'm sure glad they did.
Yes, it's, that's a wonderful film.
Those guys are masters, they know how to do it.
The Big Lebowski every scene it just,
it's so chockfull with great stuff.
They write together
and I remember asking them, I think, Joel, I said
How do you guys write and direct together?
I love my brother Bo but I think God,
I think that would be kind of a nightmare with,
'cause we all have these different opinions and,
I think they said something like,
Well, we work it out in the writing time when we're all,
when we're writing it,
so when we actually are there shooting it, you know
we've ironed out all our differences
and they create a very, very relaxed atmosphere.
They're a great audience too
which is helpful for actors.
They, they're your audience right there
when you're doing it.
It's just a really good movie
and all the characters
and the way everything is executed,
from the set design or the wardrobe,
everything is just, just right.
[Donny] Where you going, Dude?
[The Dude] Going home, Donny
Run your nose that you're clean of the perjury
but he's got the world thinking something on a bad soapbox.
[Man] That went well.
[Second Man] Did I just--
Goddamn crystallized, the difference
between being guilty and being responsible?
[Woman] Are you asking me to step down sir?
No, no, it's not gonna be that easy for you
and it's not gonna be that easy for them.
So Rod Lurie, another first, I've had wonderful
times with first time directors
and this was Rod's first movie.
Although I remember reading the script
and yelling to my wife,
Hey, I think that one here, this is good.
And because I think I had just played The Dude
and now I'm being asked to play
the President of the United States
and I loved to switch up,
with my roles as much as I could.
So I, especially in my early career,
I really tried to to mix up my roles
so I would wouldn't get typecast.
So the people who were hiring me said,
Oh yeah, he could do that and that
and also would pleasantly confuse the audience
so they could imagine me playing different roles.
So playing the president was terrific
and, again, I got to work with Joan Allen
and she was so brilliant in The Contender.
I will do whatever you say.
Show them why Lane Hansen is
my nominee with your closing statement.
Well, that, that went well.
Did I just paint a target in the back of my head?
Your head, what about my head?
What do you think the over under
on the stock drop is gonna be?
[Tony] Optimistically 40 points.
[Obadiah] At minimum.
Tony we're a weapons manufacturer.
Wow, John Favreau man,
what a director, what a great filmmaker.
It was Marvel's first adventure in making movies,
it was so lucky to have John on there and Downey
because both of them are so,
they're terrific improvisers and,
we spent a couple of weeks working on the script
and rehearsing together
because we didn't like the original script.
And we thought, oh yeah, we fixed this, fixed that.
And then came the first day of shooting
and Marvel kind of threw out our script
that we had been working on said,
No, that's, that's no good, it's gotta be this, that.
And so there was a lot of confusion
about what our script was, what we were gonna say, you know?
And we'd spend hours in one of our trailers,
going over lines and say, oh, you play my part,
I'll play your part.
Exploring how we gonna do it.
Oh, oh John would say, Oh, I know a writer.
Let me see, he might have some ideas.
When you were doing this thing,
meanwhile the crew is in the sound stage,
tapping their feet saying
When are we gonna get this thing going?
And it drove me absolutely crazy
until I made a slight adjustment in my brain.
And that adjustment was Jeff, just relax.
You're making a $200 million student film,
just relax and have fun.
And that, that kind of did the trick
because here I get to play with these two incredible artists
and just jam,
and that's what we ended up doing.
And I, for my money, that's the best Marvel movie.
I know I'm biased, of course.
But man, I thought that was, it was a wonderful experience.
And John Favreau again, he was able to deal with the suits
and deal with the actors and be a writer.
And man, he's all of it, man, he's wonderful.
Hey Mr. Blake, you right man?
Oh yeah. I'm good.
We're back on.
It's wonderful to be here.
If I've learned anything over the years
give you people what you want otherwise you ever get.
Yeah, Crazy Heart, what an experience.
Yeah, I turned it down several times
maybe for a couple of years and it kept showing up.
The reason that I gave myself
was that there was no music,
and no matter how good the story is,
if there's no, it's all about music
and if you don't have the music,
but that was just, that was kind of a lie
I was telling myself
I think what was really going on
was that the idea of doing a music movie like that
was such a thrilling idea because I love music.
I play guitar
and I write songs and I said, Oh, this be so great.
But once it becomes a reality
and you actually make it,
then you can fail,
you can drop the ball.
And until that time, when you actually,
engage in that, it's in the dream world,
and you're not gonna fail, you're not gonna succeed.
But you're certainly you're not gonna fail.
You know, it's a bit like,
that wide receiver going out
for that perfectly thrown pass
and you're just praying that your hands
are gonna grab that ball.
I find that,
the movies that are most exciting to you
also produce the most anxiety
because you don't want to drop the ball.
You wanna, do justice to this great gift
that you've been given.
Again, first time director,
I've had such wonderful luck with these guys.
And, you know, Scott,
was a terrific movie buff, a writer,
which always helps tremendously.
He was excited about what you were gonna,
what you are gonna give
and so supportive and what do you need?
And being also, he was an actor himself.
So he knew, what actors are looking for
and the fear and the anxiety that we all have,
and how to work with that.
So I was offered the thing,
many times, I kept turning it down,
telling myself, well there's no music,
but I was really kind of afraid to ruin a dream.
And I run into T Bone who we met on Heaven's Gate
T Bone says, What do you think
about this Crazy Heart movie?
I said, Why do you ask, are you interested?
I say, Yeah, but this good story, good script
but there's no music, you know?
And he says, Oh, that's the easy part, man.
I said, You're kidding.
He says, No, no, come on, you wanna do it?
I said, Are you interested?
He says, I'll do it if you'll do it.
I said, Oh, well now how could I
that didn't feel right to turn that opportunity down.
I said, Well, maybe it's all falling into place.
I said, Okay and off we go.
The star of the show.
Legendary Bad Blake.
Oh, you're the brave girl with stories of El Dorado.
How much money you got there?
I save $50 to retrieve Chaney and you did not believe me.
Yeah, well, I did not know.
You know, talking to Joel and said,
Joel, why do you wanna make this movie?
I mean, this is, John Wayne's, big movie.
And why do you guys wanna do that?
And he says, Have you read the Charles Portis book?
And I said, No.
And then I read the book and I understood why
because the book read like a Cohen brother movie,
it was just so perfect.
And so I jumped in, but God,
that was one, of the wonderful experience that was.
Great, great actors.
Hailee's so terrific.
Very difficult part,
to play that kind of intelligence,
And I remember the first scene we shot
was her waking me up.
And I said to Joel and Ethan, Oh, she's gonna be so great.
This is, we're so lucky to have her.
I love playing westerns.
That's one of my earliest memories with my dad is,
him coming home from work with his cowboy hat and boots
and I would put them on, walking around.
Love, love, Cowboys, love that.
What a great part of our history, the West.
Save your money.
Meet me here at seven o'clock tomorrow morning,
we'll begin our coon hunt.
[Police] There just one? Yep.
There's supposed to be two of them.
Maybe the town folks got one.
Well, if they did, they got the smart one,
this old boy's out of his mind.
Hell or High Water,
I really love that picture.
David Mackenzie was wonderful to work with,
created a great environment on the set
and like my favorite directors had a real,
strong vision of the way it ought to be
but also open at the same time.
So it would take ideas from all of us actors and,
God, he made a great movie I think, I really love it.
Maybe one of these bank robbers is gonna want a gun fight
and I can dodge my retirement in the blaze of glory.
My name is, is Dan Chase,
I'm at 92 Neville Street in Norwich.
A man just broke into my house with a gun.
He fired at me, I fired back,
I shot him, I think he's dead.
I read the script and I read the book
and those started to entice me
and I said, well, Jeff, you know, the next step
is you gotta meet with the creators of these things.
And I having conversation with my son say,
Yeah but you know,
you don't like to meet with those guys
because their dreams can be contagious, man,
and you're going to get sucked into their thing.
I said, Yeah, but I like the script.
I like the story, that's your next step.
And I said, Okay.
So I met with John Steinberg and Warren Littlefield
and Dan Shots and they got me, man.
I got their dream, I caught their dream
and I said, Oh, these guys, they can do it.
They know what's needed.
And they're prepared to bring that to the party.
So I came on board and then all of a sudden,
I was saying the casting, not only the actors
but the crew, that's so important.
And they started to assemble this great team
of John Lithgow,
Amy Brenneman, Alia Shawkat,
there's just, everybody started to come together
and exceed your expectations.
You always have high hopes
and then when it comes together to be
pleasantly surprised, it's better than I thought.
That's what keeps you coming back.
They cast these master stunt coordinators,
Henry Kingi and Tim Connolly,
and these guys, they knew how to make it look real.
They were experts in their field, masters.
They make it look easy,
but it takes a lot of hard work to give it that
feeling of, oh, it's nothing, it's just a fight.
As I was saying I resist engaging in projects,
do my best not to, because I know if I do this
I won't be able to do that.
And I don't even know what that is
but I want to, it's something by about surrendering
what you don't know is gonna happen.
That's a challenge for me
but I've been I've been very fortunate.
I've touched a lot of stuff I wanted to touch on.
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