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Bev Cohn: The Unabridged Jeff Bridges
(This article originally appeared in the Santa Monica Mirror.) Before the nationwide release of Crazy Heart late last year, Jeff Bridges sat down with a few journalists and talked about his life and times and the road to that could culminate in a possible Oscar. Well loved and respected in Hollywood, Bridges finally received the recognition that has been a long time in coming. At the conclusion of the interview, your reporter ended by saying "Get your tuxedo ready," and as it turned out, he indeed needed that tuxedo.

Jeff Bridges with guitar in the movie CRAZY HEART
Jeff Bridges in Fox Searchlight Pictures' CRAZY HEART. Photo Credit: Lorey Sebastian.

The Unabridged Jeff Bridges
Beverly Cohn

eff Bridges is an extremely versatile actor and has created another fascinating character in his latest film Crazy Heart. The story revolves around Bad Blake, a broken-down alcoholic country singer who lives on the road, performing his former hits in small-town dives. Bridges does all his own singing and guitar playing, with original music written by Stephen Bruton and T Bone Burnett. The cast includes Maggie Gyllenhaal as a young journalist, Robert Duvall as his good friend, and Colin Farrell, as a successful country singer.

STB: Was your character modeled after someone in particular?

Bridges: My biggest role model was Steven Bruton whose life parallels Bad’s in many ways. He was a working musician who played these small clubs. He shared stories about how he’d drive hundreds of miles from club to club and didn’t want to stop so he would carry a Sparkletts bottle to pee in.

TB: How did you prepare for the addiction aspects of your character:

Bridges: I looked to myself as I’ve been redeemed. Also, I’ve been married 32 years and in a long marriage, there’s a lot of redemption.

TB: Your singing in the film is pretty amazing. Who were some of the singers who influenced you and how long did you rehearse?

Bridges: Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, and Bob Dylan to name three. Also, T Bone made a wonderful graph of music that Bad might have listened to. It was pretty eclectic and even included Leonard Cohen. We had six months worth of jam sessions.

Jeff Bridges with Maggie Gyllenhaal in the movie CRAZY HEART
Jeff Bridges and Maggie Gyllenhaal in Fox Searchlight Pictures' CRAZY HEART. Photo Credit: Lorey Sebastian.

TB: Your performance in the film is brilliant and intensely emotional. How did you decompress after those wrenching scenes?

Bridges: I did an interview once where I was asked if I was one of those guys who take my roles home with me. I said I didn’t think I did. My wife happened to be in the room and she just rolled her eyes back. I asked, “Why did you do that Sue,” and she said, “You just don’t think you do.” I guess I’m not aware of it and suppose it just subsides.

TB: What is the secret to your long and wonderful career?

Bridges: My family comes to mind. I took a lot of cues from how my dad ran his career. My mother was the rock of the family who always supported him. My wife is very much like my mother and really holds us all together.

TB: Did you learn something specific from your dad?

Bridges: I learned the importance of reinventing yourself. I saw the frustration he had when he did his series in the 60’s called Sea Hunt. He played a skin diver by the name of Mike Nelson and pulled it off so well, that people thought he really was a skin diver. After the series ended, he got lots of scripts but they were always about skin divers, which drove him crazy. He couldn’t escape his strong persona. I really tried to avoid that. I wanted to mix it up not only for my own growth as an actor, but also for the audience to see me as different characters. There’s a song in the film called “Somebody Else,” and that’s how I feel about continuously reinventing myself.

TB: It’s your birthday in two days, so Happy Birthday and get your tuxedo ready!

Bridges: (Smiling) Thank you.

Jeff Bridges has been nominated four times for an Academy Award and his riveting, flawless performance in this outstanding film, seamlessly directed by writer and producer Scott Cooper, should earn him that long overdue Oscar.

Let Bev know what you think about her traveling adventure.

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Thanks so much for those lovely tourism photos, especially of Ireland. I certainly enjoyed all the places you suggested, and am working towards my next vacation. Don’t forget Cuba. That’s an exciting place.

Rosalie, Los Angeles

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Enjoyed your article on Mira Sorvino. Such an interesting background – family, education, career and now human rights activist. I'm not a gossip mag fan so getting more meaty news about movie celebrities from you gives me hope that there are some inteligent life forms in Hollywood.

Peter Paul, Pasadena, CA

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Thank you, Bev. This reminded me to go see the movie, "An Education," which I had already almost forgotten about, having seen the preview a few weeks ago. I enjoy this actress quite a bit--she has a uniqueness about her and she pulls me in. I enjoyed this.

Sandeee, Seattle, WA

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Thank you Beverly,I really enjoyed reading about your intimate conversation with Forest, of whom I am a great admirer. I look forward to seeing the film "Our Family Wedding."

Yoka, Westlake Village, CA

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Thank you for the sending me the beautiful article you wrote about Ireland. We will use your recomendations for hotels in the Southern part. We plan to also go to Dublin and some other Northern cities so I will get some recommendations for these from others. After reading your article, I am getting more excited about going. I think we will be in Ireland for 8 days altogether.

Leah Mendelsohn, Santa Monica, CA

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Very much enjoyed Ms. Cohn's article about Munich, especially the visuals. Though it has been 25 years since my last visit, the piece brought back countless pleasant memories of the city and the people!! Many thanks.

Lawrence, Los Angeles

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Marianplatz and that general area is truly one of the best Christmas celebrations in the world. Between that and Oktoberfest (which I can only imagine) Munich is one of the greatest cities in the world for major annual events.

Christopher Dale, New York, NY

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Hi Bev, you have done some wonderful pieces on some great celebs...Great work. The travel articles are just wonderful too.

Scott Mueller, Huntington Beach, CA

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Your great Zurich article makes me want to go there for the holidays! I love the photos, too, especially the ones of you in the sleigh, the view over the houses and the zoo!

Anna Marie, Santa Monica, CA

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Lovely article! As a European, and having been to Zurich (albeit in summer) I can vouch for this lovely city. Great pictures, too!

Helene Robins, Santa Monica, CA

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Hi Bev,

Nice review, nice seeing you, nice website interface "...Talk to Bev" - Enjoy your Thanksgiving!

Richard D. Kaye, Marina del Rey, CA

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Hi Bev,

Your interview with John Cusack is very interesting. I always wondered why these actors/actresses always get top billing when really, if you think about it, the real work come from the animators, writers and tech whizzes who spend far more hours on the movie than those actors. I know, I know, it's the all about marketing. The names of these actors are what bring in the big bucks. Still, I think these actors are way overpaid for the "little" that they do.

I remember that once upon a time, the early animation classics never mentioned the voices behind the characters. I think it was only later when Walt Disney tapped into the voices of known celebrities like Walter Matthau in the Jungle Book or Zsa Zsa Gabor in The Rescuers that the voices became a marketing magnet.

Keep up the good work. I enjoy your interviews as you peer into the lives of the Hollywood celebrities.

Peter Paul of South Pasadena, CA



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