Jeff Bridges talks ‘True Grit’

Posted by · 9:14 am · October 18th, 2010

I was talking with a filmmaker/Academy member yesterday who asked me where I saw the Oscar landscape heading over the next few months. We had the usual (by this time of year, unfortunately boring) conversation with me making the usual points, before he offered, “I think it’s going to be ‘True Grit.’ It just feels that way. And I think Bridges is going to get two in a row.”

It’s a meaningless Sunday afternoon discussion, mind you, and not indicative of anything more than one guy’s view. But here’s someone who hasn’t seen a number of the big contenders that have received plenty of press as of late, but all he could think about was the Coens’ upcoming western adaptation. If anything, it’s indicative of how much of a hold the film seems to have on the industry sight unseen, as I frequently encounter this kind of anticipatory giddiness.

I’ve been reading Charles Portis’s novel as of late, and striking to me has been the simplicity of the dialogue and near mundane way the prose plays out (typical in most western novels, but not stylized in this way). Dare I say it reminds me very much of Cormac McCarthy and, specifically, “No Country for Old Men.” No surprise, then, that the Coens were drawn to the material, and that’s a point actor Jeff Bridges makes in a recent interview with Cowboys & Indians magazine.

Says Bridges:

You really feel that you are back in the 1890s…The book’s dialogue and story are a bit eccentric, and the Coen brothers keep that rhythm going and create the sense that you’re back in the era when the story took place. It’s a great place for Ethan and Joel to be, and when you read the book you can imagine the two of them directing this movie.

And on the production:

I get to do the classic reins-in-my-mouth riding while firing the guns when we were in hot pursuit of Tom Chaney, the killer of Marries’ father. I tried these tricky moves on a mechanical horse first before Joel Coen asked if I wanted to try it for real.

It’s a nice trip down memory lane for the actor, not unlike my extensive sit-down with him from last year. He talks his love of horses (leading, of course, to talk of playing Charles Howard in “Seabiscuit”), working on “True Grit” and “TRON Legacy” simultaneously (going from black leotards on a sound stage to wind-blown dusters on New Mexico exteriors) and again sings the praises of “Crazy Heart” director Scott Cooper, calling the film a “high point in my career for so many reasons.”

The issue is on newsstands now but you can save some trees and read the full piece online here.

[Photo: Cowboys & Indians]

→ 15 Comments Tags: , | Filed in: Daily

15 responses so far

  • 1 10-18-2010 at 9:58 am

    Bill C said...

    I am so excited about this movie. True Grit was an excellent movie back in the day and the lack of quality westerns makes me want this to succeed. The Coen brothers usually put forth a solid effort and with a cast that includes the dude himself Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon, I can’t imagine it not succeeding. I’m having a action hero poll on my blog feel free to participate.

  • 2 10-18-2010 at 10:03 am

    Pete said...

    Even as his nomination seems iminent (if not 100% guranteed), Jeff Bridges might find it nearly impossible to win Best Actor for his role in True Grit.

    The quality of his performance may not matter just as it won’t make the slighest bit of difference if he’s ten times better than Wayne was. The mere fact that this was the sole success of an iconic (not to me personally but to many others) actor may prove to be a very big obstacle to just about any other actor. It’s very hard for me to argue this point as it does not represent my own views but I think that Academy members mind think that awarding Bridges is somehow disrespectful to Wayne.

    And it doesn’t help that Bridges work in True Grit is not, in any way, a tribute to the old one. It is clear that he is not “channeling” the old performance. The new movie version (likely for better then worse) is consciously meant to replace the old one. If it succeeds, the rewards will be huge. But call me crazy but I can’t help but think of the obstacles.

  • 3 10-18-2010 at 10:14 am

    larry said...

    Remakes don’t win Best Picture. And remakes of Best Actor-winning performances don’t win Best Actor.

  • 4 10-18-2010 at 10:22 am

    James said...

    Can’t wait to see it. Wish the naysayers would stop dismissing the film as this typical Hollywood remake. The Coen brothers make the films they want to make and its baffling to me how some disregard them as merely adapting from the original and not the book. I mean the original and this look completely different in tone.

  • 5 10-18-2010 at 10:23 am

    Pete said...

    “Remakes don’t win Best Picture.”

    True Grit may not be “Hamlet” and it may not be “The Departed” and it’s almost certainly not like “West Side Story” and yet…

    Nobody knows anything.

  • 6 10-18-2010 at 10:48 am

    Angry Shark said...

    It’s not a fucking remake. It’s a re-adaptation. They’re ignoring the Wayne movie and basing it off the novel. Anyone who says it’s a remake is an ignoramus.

  • 7 10-18-2010 at 11:34 am

    Georgia said...

    Oddly enough, it was watching the “Toy Grit” mash-up that I was struck by how perfect Bridges’ voice was. I just thought he’s got right to the heart of the character (again). But why should I be surprised that after year after year of giving great naturalistic yet iconic performances that he’ll probably give another one?

  • 8 10-18-2010 at 12:19 pm

    Roy said...

    I can’t help thinking, in terms of best actor, that Firth and Bridges will swap places from this year, especially if the King’s Speech gains momentum for best picture.

    The Social Network would seem favourite for adapted screenplay, so maybe, unless it does hit really big, True Grit’s best chances may be in cinematography and the supporting actor and actress categories?

  • 9 10-18-2010 at 1:46 pm

    Lance said...

    I think to figure out if Bridges can win 2 in row, you have to look at Tom Hanks succeeding in this area and Russell Crowe failing in this area.

    Their second performance had many similar elements – They outdid their first performance and they were in the movie that won best picture of the year. Why did Crowe fail? I think because the academy wasn’t ready to crown him one of the greatest actors of all time. I don’t think they’ll have the same problem with Bridges, but I think he’ll still need to clearly be the best of the year, outperform what he did last year and be in a movie that wins best picture.

    A lot of stars have to align for this to happen. He’ll probably need a lot of luck!

  • 10 10-18-2010 at 3:48 pm

    Loyal said...

    The odds of Bridges winning back to back are about .01%. His odds would certainly improve if he were the only person nominated for Best Actor this year.

    Really, who was this filmmaker/Academy member you were texting during the Redskins game?

  • 11 10-18-2010 at 3:54 pm

    John H. Foote said...

    I am jumping with this because I said it about a month ago over at, Bridges will win two in a row, and he will win for “True Grit” — it’s not about beating Duke, or doing Duke it’s about inhabiting the character written by the Coens based on the wonderful Portis book, which was reasonably well adapted the first time, though they chose not to follow through on some of the more harsh elements of the book — the language is marvelous, and look at that trailer, Bridges looks the part, sounds the part…Give him the damned Oscar already…And this could go all the way to Best Pic you know…

  • 12 10-19-2010 at 6:55 am

    Pete said...

    John, what you are saying makes perfect sense but has little grounding in reality. The Oscars are more subjective then the reality itself. You cannot claim with absolute certainty that something will win just because it’s the best.

  • 13 10-19-2010 at 3:31 pm

    daveylow said...

    I have to say that those who are predicting Bridges will win two Oscars in a row haven’t seen Firth in The King’s Speech. The Academy will want to give it at least a few of its top awards and Best Actor is the natural one to give, along with the supporting award to Rush.

  • 14 10-20-2010 at 12:34 pm

    Twofer Maybe said...

    I think Bridges has a good shot at a two-fer too. I’m also glad that another western is coming to the screen because there are far too few. That it will be directed by the Coens is a plus.

    Speaking of Bridges, just saw his 1979 film “Winter Kills”. A film that also stars John Huston (in a red Speedo no less!), Anthony Perkins, Eli Wallach with a cameo by Elizabeth Taylor, cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond. Amazing.

  • 15 12-09-2010 at 7:04 pm

    Glen said...

    Jeff Bridges The best man for the job