The film, due out in theaters on Wednesday, shows off Bridges’ acting chops in the role of drunken U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn in the post-Civil War era Western, a 180-degree turn from his recent role as a tech-whiz trapped in a computer grid of his own making in the futuristic “Tron: Legacy.”
“True Grit,” first adapted in a 1969 film that won John Wayne an Oscar as Cogburn, is based on Charles Portis’ novel about a 14-year-old girl (newcomer Hailee Steinfeld) who teams with Cogburn and a Texas ranger (Matt Damon) to avenge her father’s death. Bridges sat down with Reuters to talk about the film and how his career has changed since his Oscar win.
Q: The book was already made into a 1969 film. Weren’t you wondering why the Coen brothers wanted to make this?
A: “I was curious. But they said, ‘We aren’t remaking the movie, we are making a movie of the book ‘True Grit’ by Charles Portis. Have you ever read it?’ And I hadn’t, so I did. I could see why they wanted to make this movie. The book is wonderful and it reads just like a Coen Brothers script.”
Q: How did you create a character different to John Wayne?
A: “I don’t know how, but his portrayal is not something I would refer to as I’m studying my lines. I took it as a totally fresh thing. But whether subliminally something leaked in, I don’t know.”
Q: Your character is a pretty good gun slinger. Was that you doing the shooting, or was there a stunt person?
A: “I don’t really mess with guns too much outside of the movies, but yeah, that was really me shooting in the film. But whether I hit the target or not — that was some movie magic.”
Q: You spent pretty much the entire movie on a horse. Do you ride?
A: “I love riding. To be communicating like that with another species — it’s a wonderful team that you develop.”
Q: You won your first Oscar in February for playing alcoholic singer Bad Blake in “Crazy Heart.” How has your career changed since then?
A: “I thought maybe I’d get a big flood of wonderful scripts but that hasn’t happened for some reason. But I’ve gotten into my music a lot, and I think that’s a direct result of ‘Crazy Heart.’ I’ve just cut the basic tracks for an album with T-Bone Burnett (who wrote “The Weary Kind” from ‘Crazy Heart’). It should be out next year on Blue Note Records.”
Q: You come from an acting family. Was it your destiny to follow your father Lloyd and brother Beau into acting?
A: “My dad was very proactive about all his kids going into the movies. Not for any vicarious reasons or anything. He just loved it so much he wanted to share the joy.”