Jeff Bridges Talks 'Hell or High Water' and the One Constant in His 70 Films

No, that's not an Oscar speech in his pocket.

ByAngela Williams
January 18, 2017, 3:09 PM

— -- Six-time Oscar nominee Jeff Bridges may very soon have another nod to add to the list. He’s now starring as a no-nonsense Texas Ranger tracking down a pair of bank-robbing brothers (Chris Pine and Ben Foster) in the Western thriller “Hell or High Water.”

“I had a ball making it and I love the way it came out. It's just terrific,” Bridges said in a recent appearance on “Popcorn With Peter Travers.”

Bridges, 67, said he trained for the role under the guidance of a real-life Texas Ranger who took the time to show him the ropes.

“We were all very fortunate to have Joaquin Jackson on the set with us. He's no longer with us now. He passed away last year. But he was a very renowned Texas Ranger,” Bridges said. “He, of course, told us how to wear all the gear. And how to behave. But he was on the set. And just being in his presence, you kind of get something you know. He was a wonderful source for me.”

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Peter Travers asked Bridges whether he sees “Hell or High Water” as a political movie because the banks are presented as the villains in the film.

“Yeah, they kid of are,” Bridges, 67, said. “One of the things that appealed to me about the script was the ambiguity because it’s not right to steal. But, then, is it right for the banks to lend money to people they know can’t pay it back? That’s not so good.”

That’s when he paused the interview to pull a piece of paper from his pocket.

“Is that your Oscar speech?” Travers joked.

PHOTO: Jeff Bridges and Peter Travers at the ABC News studios in New York City, Jan. 4, 2017.
Jeff Bridges and Peter Travers at the ABC News studios in New York City, Jan. 4, 2017.
Maryellen McGrath/ABC News

Bridges said he wanted to share a quote from Russian novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn to better highlight his take on the film. He read, “If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”

Bridges added, “This judgment of right and wrong, we have to kind of soften that a little because we all have both aspects.”

Bridges also took a look back on his career, including his first Oscar nomination at age of 20 for “The Last Picture Show (1971).” He said there’s one constant that has been there for most of his films throughout the years, his stand-in, who acts as a substitute for the actor while crews check lighting and camera setup before filming.

“A fella named Loyd Catlett. And he was a 16-year-old kid in Archer City [Texas],” Bridges said of their first meeting. “And by the way, the first bank that the guys rob in “Hell or High Water” is Archer City. Isn’t that wild?”

“Loyd was hired as a 16-year-old kid to play a part in the movie [“The Last Picture Show”]. And he also was hired to teach us California kids how to be Texas kids. And we have now done over 70 films together. He’s been my stand-in for 70 films, through all of these movies.”

Be sure to watch the full interview to see Bridges talk about his first film role at 6 months old, and how he starred opposite the same actress 35 years later.

“Hell or High Water” is in theaters everywhere.

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