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Oscar Time for Jeff Bridges, who talks about first-time directors

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   Jeff Bridges is making the rounds at Oscar time, praising the Coen brothers, who directed him in True Grit which got him another Oscar nomination. Joel and Ethan Coen got Oscar nominations too, for Directing and Adapted Screenplay for True Grit.
  Bridges has a special place in his heart for the Coen brothers, who gave him one of his most iconic roles as The Dude in The Big Lebowski.
    But if you look over Bridges incredible body of work you'll see that he has really embraced first time directors, and he is quick to praise them too. That's no surprise considering first time director Scott Cooper was at the helm of Crazy Heart, for which Bridges captured his first Best Actor Oscar last year.
   At a recent PBS' American Masters session, Bridges chatted with me about his newbie directors, and what they mean to him.
   "I've had great luck with first time guys. If you look at my filmography, it's just riddled with wonderful first time directors, from Michael Cimino (Thunderbolt and Lightfoot), Bob Benton (Bad Company), Steve Kloves, who did The Fabulous Baker Boys, and Scott Cooper too."
   But you have to wonder at this stage of the veteran actor's career-- just how much direction does he need?
   "Probably not much," Bridges admitted to me, "but I like it. I really look to directors to move me past my own conceptions, you know, to help me transcend myself. I don't want to be playing myself in every role. So when I get a different guy's thoughts on it, it really helps."
   Bridges said he lets the first time directors know "He's the man. And I'm going to do my best to give him all my stuff. And they can cut it up and make a collage out of all my stuff, and move it around and paste it. And that's the way movies are made."
    Knowing that, Bridges has a lot of respect for the director's position "as the main collage artist. He's going to cut all my stuff up. So I want to make sure that I give him what he is going to need in that editing process."
   So Bridges said, "I particularly love working with first time guys who are just coming into it and they don't know what they can't do. They're fresh. And it's a wonderful thing to be part of that as an actor."
   Bridges reminded that "Orson Wells did Citizen Kane as his first, and we haven't done much better than that."

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Guest Tuesday, 26 May 2015