Jeff Bridges’ Crazy Heart a Winner
Crazy Heart has Jeff Bridge singing about life, love & awards
Jeff Bridges is getting a lot of attention lately. And he deserves it. He gives a huge performance in a little film called Crazy Heart, which just might capture an Oscar for the four-time Academy Award nominee.
Bridges plays Bad Blake, a hard-drinking, hard-living country singer who had fame and headlining gigs in the biggest arenas, and now is reduced to singing for small groups in bowling alleys.
He drinks too much and there’s more than a little jealousy regarding his former protégé Tommy Sweet (Colin Farrell), who is now a singing sensation.
Then in walks Jean (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a small town journalist who discovers Blake’s true story and helps give his crazy heart another chance.
“You don’t get a chance like this too often. I’m lucky,” says Bridges about the way he’s been getting attention for his performance, creating a buzz for Hollywood’s awards season.
And yet Bridges admits “because there wasn’t any music attached to it,” he passed on the script the first time he saw it. Then when his friend T Bone Burnett got involved, Bridges signed on. “I knew the music was going to be top notch, and that got me to the party really quick.”
T Bone Burnett is the Grammy-winning and Oscar nominated composer and producer (“Walk The Line,” “O Brother Where Art Thou?”). And he brought in an impressive young singer-songwriter Ryan Bingham to co-write the Crazy Heart theme song “The Weary Kind,” which gave Bridges the opportunity to sing with all his heart and soul.
At the press day to promote the Fox Searchlight film, Bridges told everyone that he was drawn to music as a youngster. “I’ve been playing music since I was a kid,” he says. And that’s one of the reasons he enjoyed playing Bad Blake.
Playing a musician, who spends his life on the road, going from gig to gig, isn’t that much different from his life as an actor. “There is a similarity to acting and singing.”
Bridges explains, “My wife told me that we’ve been apart 11 months this year. That’s tough. That’s the hardest part for me. But we’ve been married for 33 years and we’ve done this a lot together, so we know the routine and how much we depend on each other. It’s great to have a partner like that.”
One of the things that Bridges finds appealing about country music “is that it’s dealing with human emotions that people can relate to. We can all relate to not only the fear of failure, but the fear of success and what we do to ourselves when we get successful. Once you get to the top of the mountain, there’s only one place to go. You roll down.”
So how do you deal with that? Bridges reveals, “A lot of us deal with it by numbing ourselves. That’s our strategy. We slow ourselves down. So I can relate to that, just as a human being. Just being alive, you struggle with that.”
Bridges didn’t struggle getting his start in the acting world. He proudly says his dad, the late Lloyd Bridges of Sea Hunt fame, was his mentor and sort of pushed him into the business.
“Unlike a lot of actors, he really encouraged all of his kids to go into show business. He loved it so much. I remember when I was a little kid he’d say ‘Hey, you wanna be in Sea Hunt? You’ll get out of school. You can make some money and buy some toys.’ So I’d say ‘Okay.’ He gave me the basics of acting, teaching me how to do it.”
The music came naturally, and Bridges says he especially enjoyed the jam sessions with all the great musicians who worked on the film. Also part of the film is another fellow who has a passion for country music– Robert Duvall, who produced the film and has a supporting role as Blake’s buddy.
Crazy Heart, written and directed by Scott Cooper, has music that is a tribute to all the great country singers who wrote songs that have left an indelible impression in our hearts and minds. And now Jeff Bridges has our attention too.
The hard-working actor has already been nominated for numerous critics honors, a Golden Globe and SAG award. And he seems to be a heavy favorite for an Oscar nod. To see if he picks up an armful of prizes, tune in the 67th annual Golden Globes January 17 on NBC; the 16th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, January 23 on TNT and TBS; and on ABC, March 7, the grand-daddy of them all the 82nd Academy Awards.