The film "Crazy Heart" is built on the idea that "the harder the life, the sweeter the song." But that rule doesn't really apply to the sweet life of Jeff Bridges, who will go to the Kodak Theater tonight as the odds-on favorite to win Best Actor.
He chatted with Bill Weir on a drive through Los Angeles.
Bill Weir: So, I've got to ask you about the performance in "Crazy Heart." The big concert scene. You did that at a Toby Keith concert?
Jeff Bridges: Yeah, a Toby Keith concert.
Weir: So, it was just like between sets? You got to jump up and do it? How did that work?
Bridges: Yeah. That was basically it. Halftime.
Weir: That's I guess what you have to do when you're making a $7 million movie, right?
Bridges: We had two songs to do at their halftime. And it was fun.
Weir: Are you able to anticipate when you're acting -- you're in a character like Bad Blake, do you know that people are going to love him? Do you know the movie's going to hit the way it does?
Bridges: You're not really thinking about that stuff, you know? I guess you have expectations to pull it off as best you can. And you're going for that. Not really thinking too much about the audience or anything like that at that point. And then viewing the movie, you know, it's funny. With the first few times that I see the movie, it's very hard for me to even follow the story because I'm -- it's like a home movie to me, you know? Remembering all the guys and what we did after that shot, you know? All those kinds of things.
Weir: So, how do regard award season? What will it mean to you to win an Oscar?
Bridges: Well, I get to have that neat little statue, you know. It's great getting the nod. You know, getting the "atta boy" from those guys who do what you do. That's a wonderful thing. And also, it brings attention to this movie that I'm so fond of and we want people to go see, so it helps that kind of thing.
Weir: Do you actually have fun at the ceremony?
Bridges: I find it pretty anxiety-provoking. You know, I get pretty -- you know, it's a good place to work on our angst, you know. You know, forgetting what you're going to say if you happen to win, wondering if, you know, people's names you're forgetting that you should know. There's a lot of tension involved. But that's all good practice for relaxing, you know.
Weir: Do you watch the other nominees' work? Do you know who you're up against when you're sitting there on awards night?
Bridges: You know, I've been so busy pushing "Crazy Heart." It might've gone straight to DVD. But Fox Searchlight, they became our hero, and picked us up, and they wanted to put it out right away. So that meant that we couldn't publicize it in a normal way. So, we went right to doing all these Q&A's and working right away. And I haven't really seen -- actually, I saw -- "Up in the Air" the other night, and loved George [Clooney]'s performance, and that whole movie was wonderful. I saw Avatar.
Weir: How long have you been married?
Bridges: Thirty-- we're going on 33 years now.
Weir: How'd you manage to pull that off?
Bridges: Pull what off?
Weir: Being a strapping Hollywood star? One woman for 33 years?
Bridges: Oh, I fell in love. Love at first sight.
Weir: Yeah. How'd you meet her?
Bridges: Well, a long time ago, I mean, once upon a time I was making this movie in Montana called "Rancho Deluxe." And I could not take my eyes off one of these girls who's working at the place. Beautiful girl. She had two black eyes and a broken nose. You know, juxtaposed in that beauty, I was mesmerized.
And I finally asked her out. I said, "Would you like to go out with me?" She said, "No." I said, "No." She goes, "No." She goes, "It's a small town. Maybe I'll see you around." And her prophecy proved to be true. We met at the club or something and danced, and fell in love, and that was it.
And now we cut, 15 years later, we're married, we got three girls, and I'm opening my mail in my office. And I get a card from the makeup man on the movie where I met my wife, Sue. And the letter says, "I was going through my files, and I came across a photograph. Two photographs of you asking this local girl out for a date. I thought you might find it interesting." And I look at the photograph. And it is a picture of the first words I ever uttered to my wife asking her out for a date and her saying no, and the picture was taken.
Weir: That's fantastic.
Bridges: Not only that, but it's a close-up of her. And now, I have that in my pocket. I carry it with me all the time. So, you ask me, how keep it together -- having a beauty like that, that helps. But also, practice. You know, it's like that punch line to that joke. You know, how do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice. Same goes true for marriage, too. You got to practice all of the stuff, you know. You get a bump, and that's an opportunity to get a little deeper, right? Marriage is a great thing, man. I really love it.