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quinta-feira, 25 de fevereiro de 2010

Jeff Bridges interview: songs in the key of Oscar



http://www.telegraph.co.uk/

Jeff Bridges talks about how music inspired his Oscar-nominated turn in 'Crazy Heart’ .


By Marc Lee
Published: 5:34PM GMT 24 Feb 2010


Link to this video

It’s a bit of a cliché to say of a particularly powerful performance that the actor “inhabits” the role, that he “is” that character up there on the big screen. But, in his new hit movie, which has made him favourite for the Best Actor Oscar, Jeff Bridges is so utterly convincing as a country singer that he really has become one.

Crazy Heart features some great onstage performances from Bridges. There’s an edgy rawness, an authenticity about them, as if he’s truly drawing on a lifetime of lost love and tough breaks (“I used to be somebody, now I’m somebody else,” he reflects ruefully in one song). And his solo tracks are the highlights of the accompanying soundtrack album.

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In the movie, Bridges plays Bad Blake, a singer once on the verge of stardom who is now in his late fifties and reduced to playing bars and bowling alleys in small-town Texas. His only anaesthetic against grim reality is a daily overdose of Jack Daniel’s, until a light comes into his life in the shape of Jean (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a journalist and struggling single mother half his age.

When I ask Jeff Bridges whether he had to dig deep into his own soul to make Bad come alive as a character, he dismisses the idea that that sort of thing is necessary: it’s all about the “magic trick” of acting, he says, and the way your fellow actors help to raise your game (“Maggie was just wonderful to work with”).

But there is no escaping the way Bridges has once more called upon his talented inner musician, just as he did in The Fabulous Baker Boys, which he made with his brother, Beau, and Michelle Pfeiffer back in 1989 – although fond memories of that movie initially put him off this latest project.

“[Crazy Heart] was a wonderful script, a great story,” he says, “but the bar had already been set pretty high as far as making movies about a musician’s life with The Fabulous Baker Boys.”

In that movie, Bridges plays a brilliant jazz pianist who has abandoned the music he loves to make a living with his brother (played by Beau) as a piano-playing duo in the soulless cocktail lounges of Seattle. Though the Bridges boys are fabulous together, it has to be said that the most memorable moment belongs to Pfeiffer as she drapes herself across a piano to exude a show-stopping version of Makin’ Whoopee.

“I had a great time making that movie,” says Bridges now. “It had such wonderful music – all those pop and jazz classics. And on Crazy Heart, while the script was great, [in the early stages] there was no music attached to it, so I took a pass on it. But then, about a year later, my friend [the musician and songwriter] T-Bone Burnett said he was interested in doing the music, and I said, 'Oh God, let’s go!’ So a lot of the songs were written especially for me.”

There are eight new songs on Crazy Heart, most written by Burnett and five of them sung solo by Bridges. There are also a handful of country classics, such as Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way.

Bridges is so convincing in the role of Bad partly because the movie’s director, Scott Cooper, approached the character as if he had actually existed.

“Scott said that if Bad had been a real person, he’d have been the fifth Highwayman. In the Eighties and Nineties they were this group of country-music icons – Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson. Scott said Bad would have been the fifth one, which gives you some idea of the status of the man.”

Burnett was also good at defining Bad. “He did a really wonderful thing,” says Bridges. “He gave me a breakdown of the music Bad would have listened to growing up in Fort Worth, Texas, where T‑Bone grew up. It would have been Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen – not just this narrow [country music] thing. So Dylan was a role model for me: I watched some of his performances. And certainly Kristofferson. I knew Kristofferson. I still know him: saw him not too long ago.” Bridges clearly found the experience of making music again in Crazy Heart a thrill: does that mean there’s another album in prospect?

“Yeah, I’d like to do that,” he says. “There was a whole batch of great tunes that didn’t make the movie, that were cut for one reason or another – they just didn’t serve the story right, or whatever. And there’s a bunch of other tunes I’ve written.”

Over a long career, involving a startling variety of roles, Bridges has established himself as the coolest dude in Hollywood. He’s so laid back: it all looks so easy for him. But, come Oscar night on March 7, he admits he’s going to be far from relaxed as he waits to learn whether the nomination – his fifth – finally snags him the coveted Best Actor statuette.

“Can you imagine it?” he says, a slight agitation in his voice. “Can you put yourself in that position? It’s just odd. It’s odd, it’s tense, and I don’t like being tense, I don’t like being anxious.”

Not that he isn’t delighted to have been nominated. “To me, personally, it’s great to get the nod from the guys who do what I do. And it would be wonderful to have that little gold guy. That would be a cool thing. I’d like that.”

The film has also attracted Oscar nominations for Best Original Song (The Weary Kind by Ryan Bingham) and Best Supporting Actress (Gyllenhaal). Bridges is unstinting in his admiration for his co-star, but what did it feel like having an on‑screen affair with a woman comparable in age to his own daughters (he has three, born in 1981, ’83 and ’85)?

“I thought about having a more age-appropriate relationship, but the story didn’t lend itself to that somehow. It felt better to be this way. As for how that felt – well, I still think of myself as 25. I can’t believe I’m 60 years old! Come on!”

It’s also hard to believe that it’s 38 years since his first Oscar nomination for his role in Peter Bogdanovich’s The Last Picture Show. Now, though, it seems that the recognition of his peers may finally be in sight.

The momentum is behind Bridges in the closing stages of the race, particularly since his victory last month at the Golden Globes – often an indication that Oscar glory lies ahead.

You’ve been close on so many occasions, I say, how does it feel his time? Is he confident? “We’ll see, man,” is all he’ll say in that characteristic honeyed drawl, before sauntering – ever so coolly – out of the room.
'Crazy Heart’ is on general release. The 'Crazy Heart’ soundtrack is available on New West Records
Bridges up for Big Lebowski sequel

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