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Jeff Bridges is still the Dude

Bridges on Iron Man, Tron and the joys of acting.

Jeff Bridges is still the Dude

Jeff Bridges really is The Dude. Now that he’s got his shaggy beard for Iron Man, doing an interview in a tropical shirt and shorts seems even more like Lebowski. Granted, he was in Hawaii (for Surf’s Up) so he dressed the part. Bridges always has a Dude-like attitude though, deep and mellow, un-phased by all the trappings of Hollywood fame.

CraveOnline: How has it been filming Iron Man?

Jeff Bridges: Well, let’s see. It’s been wonderful working with Jon Favreau who’s the director of the film. He’s a wonderful actor that I’ve admired for a long time. I remember first seeing him in Swingers. He wrote that, did such a great job. And Robert Downey Jr. We were talking about improvisation in this, well, we’re doing a lot of improvisation in Iron Man to discover scenes and getting off the written page and doing a lot of work like that. I know Jon is very interested in grounding it in as much reality as he possibly can. That’s kind of informing the whole thing. The suit for instance, I don’t know if you saw the first suit, the primitive kind of suit, it looks like, oh yeah, maybe that could happen. It’s all plausible.

CraveOnline: How far have the special effects come since Tron?

Jeff Bridges: [Laughs] Man, leaps and bounds. I remember when we did Tron, we were so excited, seeing it and then I remember about a week after the opening going home and seeing all that technology in a commercial. Just boom, just made it passé like that. That’s the way technology is. It happens so fast.

CraveOnline: Are you a comic book fan?

Jeff Bridges: I used to read comics when I was a kid.

CraveOnline: Including Iron Man?

Jeff Bridges: You know, Iron Man, he wasn’t part of the Fantastic Four, was he? He was in The Avengers, right? No, I wasn’t too much into Iron Man. I was more of a Superman, I was into Green Lantern.  I shouldn’t be saying that. Those are DC guys, aren’t they? Is Green Lantern Marvel or DC?

CraveOnline: DC.

Jeff Bridges: Eh.

CraveOnline: Are you not tempted to take photos on Iron Man? It’s so visual.

Jeff Bridges: Sort of but not really because I’m kind of a supporting player in it so I’m missing a lot of the action, the day to day work of the thing. And also, a lot of the special effects are going to happen in post so there’s not really too much there. It’s kind of frustrating with this Wide Lux camera, it shoots film. If there’s no focus, the light in the places where you film is usually so low, to get a good shot it’s kind of tough. I kind of got out of the groove of it for some reason.

CraveOnline: For the non-comic book fans, who are you playing and why this look?

CraveOnline: I’m playing Obadiah Stane who in the movie version is Tony Stark, that’s Robert Downey’s character, Iron Man, sort of his mentor. I run his company, Stark Enterprises.

CraveOnline: And the beard?

Jeff Bridges: The beard is just there, you know.

CraveOnline: Your last film, Surf’s Up is about maintaining the joy in your craft. How have you maintained it in acting?

Jeff Bridges: Yeah, well, different things come to mind when you say that. My mom would often say, “Remember, don’t take it too seriously.” I say, “Oh yeah, thanks.” My wife, whenever I’d go off to work and I’d be kind of anxious, she’ll say, “Remember, have fun.” Oh, I forgot, thanks for the reminder. Because sometimes we do forget. We take it all too seriously and there’s a lot of joy to be had wherever you are. Tap in and kind of get out of your way and there it is. That part of this story is very good I think.

CraveOnline: Did you have a similar relationship with your brother Beau?

Jeff Bridges: Me being Cody, Beau being Big Z? Not really, no. Beau was eight years older than I am and my dad was working a lot in those days so it was kind of like a surrogate father. He taught me all the sports. He was always small for his age, I was always big for my age but he was an excellent athlete and he was scouted by the Dodgers. He played on the UCLA basketball team so he would kind of, since I was bigger for my age, he would teach me all the sports stuff and kind of vicariously have me go out and [be his knight?] or whatever. I enjoyed it for a while. It was fun to be close with him but I didn’t get into the competitive side of it. He has a wonderful way, my father had this too, of getting great joy out of competition. Maybe it’s just that I’m so competitive that I don’t like to even get in there. I don’t like to loose. Maybe that’s it, I don’t know. But Beau and my dad would love to compete at like tennis and all that stuff.

CraveOnline: Are you still doing music?

Jeff Bridges: I play all the time. I played not too long ago. I think I’ve got another album in me. I’m going to get my buddies together collecting songs. My friend John Goodwin, he’s got a lot of music. If you go on my website by the way and you go to the music page, you can hear a lot of John’s music. You can stream his album that’s available on iTunes and it’s called Up to Here. John Goodwin, not Goodman, but Goodwin.

CraveOnline: Is there any other hobby you want to do?

Jeff Bridges: I do a lot of ceramics. My website’s kind of fun for me. I get to do drawings on that. It’s kind of fun. A lot of family time these days. My oldest daughter Isabelle is getting married so we’re kind of all gearing up for that.

CraveOnline: Do your kids have any interest in acting?

Jeff Bridges: You know, I don’t know. Unlike my father, I didn’t make it as available to them as he did with us. And I’m kind of, not that my dad was a stage parent or anything but he just enjoyed it so much and he wanted to turn his kids on to it. And he was right. I’ve enjoyed it myself and have had a wonderful life because of it. But I went through a period where it was awkward for me. Whenever you’re the child of a famous person, you get judged in odd ways because of that. Then I remember when I first started my acting, I thought, “Oh, I just got this job because of who my father is,” a lot of nepotism stuff. I’m a product of nepotism I’ve got to say. I don’t think I would have gotten into it if my father wasn’t so enthusiastic. Anyway I chose to not do that with my kids and I’m kind of regretting that a little bit now because now they’re in their ‘20s and they’re at that crossroads where they’re starting to ask themselves, “Well, what am I going to do?” And I’d say, “Do you ever think about acting? You’ve got it in your blood, you’ve got three generations of it and I’ll help you work on the stuff.” They say, “Eh, I don’t think so.” So I don’t know. I wouldn’t be surprised if any of them kind of stumble into it someway.

CraveOnline: Are you going to be an easygoing father in law?

Jeff Bridges: I’ll be easygoing father in law. The guy that she’s marrying, Brandon Dash, is a wonderful guy. They’ve known each other for many, many years and toured Europe together. I figure if they can survive Europe