Bridges on Bridges

Fox Searchlight/Everett Collection

The actor recalls some key movies from his impressive filmography.

From a faded country music star to a grizzled U.S. marshall, a disgraced dee-jay seeking redemption, an extraterriestrial visitor and an iconic slacker hero, Bridges has brought to life a wide range of characters in a diverse array of films. Here are some anecdotes from the actor on some of his better-known roles.

Crazy Heart (2009)
“There were a bunch of awards, and I was kind of numb. The weirdest one was the first, and I got up there and wanted to make sure I acknowledged Scott Cooper. But what did I do? I said, ‘I’d like to acknowledge my great director: Chris Cooper!’ And out of the audience I hear my wife yelling, ‘Scott!’ My God, it was my worst fear!”

The Big Lebowski (1998)
“I invited my family — and then I realize, ‘Wait a minute, I’ve invited them to see me go between the legs of all these beautiful women, looking at their snatches!’ And I’m pulled through, and look up and there are these big tufts of pubic hair! I found out afterward they’d gone to the makeup artist and had crepe hair put on. Thank God my stand-in tipped my wife, so the trick was on me.”

The Fisher King (1991)
“I was originally concerned about Robin Williams. He’s a comedian, and I imagined, during that long speech with him in a coma, that he’d be f---ing around with me. But he was just the opposite. He was so supportive. My perception before the movie was different than at the end. At the end, I perceived him as an incredible actor who just happens to have that comedy thing in his kit bag.”

The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989)
“[My brother Beau and I] have two different versions of this story, when we did the fight scene. My version is that we didn’t have an ‘out’ word, a safe word [if things got too rough]. His version is that the safe word was ‘Ouch!’ What a ridiculous word! So when he was saying ‘Ouch!’ I didn’t hear it as a safe word; I heard him acting. I ended up really hurting his hand.”

Starman (1984)
“I set up a video camera and videoed [me and a choreographer friend] working on movements in my office, and I would often work nude because the Starman was nude. So I’m in my office, nude, in my corner, with a video camera on me, in this weird fetal position — and I remember my wife sticking her head in. There was this long, Jack Benny-ish look and she just closed the door.”

Heaven’s Gate (1980)
“[Director Michael] Cimino was quite strict; he wouldn’t let anyone go, even if you weren’t shooting for weeks. And Kris Kristofferson had hired all of his music buddies, and we would jam all the time. Later I picked up the review in The New York Times, and it was the most scathing thing, and the quote I remember is, ‘If they shaved Cimino’s head, they would find three 6’s.’ ”

The Last Picture Show (1971)
“There was all kinds of personal drama. I had a fling with Cybill Shepherd, but it was kind of a rebound thing for me; I had just gone through my first big heartbreak, so I wasn’t too invested. But then I saw Peter [Bogdanovich] going for it — and that was the big drama on that movie, their relationship. He was like apologetic, and I said, ‘Peter, that’s not a problem!’ ”