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Jeff Bridges, who plays the mentor in The Giver (which is the adaptation of the bestselling novel), has a special connection with the book. He confesses the Bridges family made a film of The Giver a long time ago. He also talks about advice he’s received from his dad, his impression of Taylor Swift and his thoughts about retirement.
Q: Is it true that you originally wanted to make this film with your father?
I originally wanted to direct my father, Lloyd Bridges, in the film and I wanted to make a movie that my kids could see. They were all young kids at the time. And I was looking at a catalogue of children’s books and came across this wonderful cover of this grizzled old guy. And I thought, “Oh, this is great.” I read it and I was knocked out on a kid book level but also as an adult. I thought, “Oh, this is a movie I’d love to see.”
Q: You actually shot a version of this film with your dad as The Giver?
Q: Any way that could be on the DVD?
Beau’s son, Casey Bridges, was our DP on that session at our parent’s house. We read the whole book. Bud Cort was the narrator. It was like 18 years ago. Bud read all the narration in the book. Dylan who now works for Universal as a publicist plays Jonas. Casey tells me he’s got it so hopefully it will be something on the DVD.
Q: When young actors work with you, do they ask you for advice? And do you offer it?
We just jam, you know? It’s a musical expression but it also works for movies too. Brenton plays guitar. We did a lot of jamming, but having fun. My dad Lloyd Bridges taught me all the basics of acting. The main thing I learned from my dad was really just in observing how he worked and the joy that he had in doing what he loved doing. I got to work with him twice as an adult and for both those movies, whenever my dad came on the set, that joyful vibe came with him. It’s contagious and it runs through the whole company. Everybody goes, “Yeah. This is kind of fun. This is kind of advanced pretend.” So we had little games we used to do and play.
Q: Working with Taylor, what kind of actress is she?
Taylor, gosh. She was so remarkable. She flew in. I think her first day of work was right on the heels of arriving in Cape Town and certainly exhausted. I had experienced that myself. But she was such a pro and so up for being involved and playing. I hope she continues the acting because I think she’s very talented in addition to being a great songwriter and performer. She was just wonderful. And I believe she was Harvey (Weinstein)’s idea. He said, “You’re being taught piano. Who would be really great for that part?” Taylor came to his mind and I’m so glad she stepped on board. She had read the book, I believe, and was a big fan of that. She’s terrific.
Q: Do you want to keep up with the acting or would you eventually like to retire and go fish or something?
Yeah, those are two streams that you articulated exactly. I’m 64 now so I’m moving along pretty good. I’ve only got a few – there’s a limited time. I got a lot to do! I got a lot of ideas, a lot of things I want to realize. And that creates a certain amount of pressure. It’s like Walt Disney – Jiminy Cricket – you’ve got a good angel. I remember Goofy or Pluto – these are both actually angels. One guy is saying, “You got to get to work. You’ve got a lot of stuff to do.” And the other guy is saying to me, “Come on, Jeff. Just relax. Do you want your whole life to be a giant homework assignment?” So it’s balancing those two things. It drives my wife crazy. But this is a one-of-a-kind experience for me. I’ve never had that kind of passion or intention for a project — holding it for 18 years — so it’s very gratifying to see it come to fruition.
The Giver opens in theaters August 15th.