King of westerns

King of westerns


King of westerns

In the contemporary Western Hell or High Water, which generated buzz at Cannes, Jeff Bridges comes full circle in his portrayal of a steely, wisecracking Texas Ranger whose final mission is to track down two brothers who are robbing banks to pay off the lien on their deceased mother’s property.

Bridges, 66, was weaned on the Westerns that his father, Lloyd, appeared in, like High Noon (1952). “Growing up, whenever he was in a cowboy movie and he’d come home, I’d get in his boots,” said Bridges, who in 2010 starred as Rooster Cogburn in a remake of True Grit.

Based in Los Angeles, Bridges was in Austin, Texas, to promote the movie, written by Taylor Sheridan, who played David Hale on Sons of Anarchy and also wrote the screenplay for the drug war thriller Sicario. He had brought along his guitar because he has a gig later. Bridges also has a band, the Abiders, referencing a classic line in The Big Lebowski.

In an interview, Bridges, finishing his thoughts with an elongated, stoner-esque “man,” talked about the presidential campaign and ruminated on the Dude. These are edited excerpts from the conversation:

How did the famous Texas Ranger Joaquin Jackson help you get into character?

He supplied us with everything, from how you wear your clothes to what the attitude is. He didn’t project a vicious guy, or a tough guy — he was secure in himself. And sweet and open, a gregarious guy. I read his (memoir), One Ranger. It was terrific.

For all its violence, the movie makes a strong statement about finding peace.
It had so much to do with the ambiguity about righteousness and points of view. The movie used to be called Comancheria. That referred to this whole area that was run by the Comanches, and then the white guys came and kicked them out. And now the banks are doing that, you know? And who is right? It’s wrong to rob banks, yeah, but is it right for banks to loan people money, knowing full well they can’t pay it back?

One robbery scene evokes the debate over open and concealed carry. What sort of commentary is the movie making?

I didn’t really see it as making a statement one way or the other. I think it was reflecting society back to itself. There are a lot of people getting killed by guns in our country for reasons, from my understanding, that are preventable. So many guns that are left loaded, unlocked. So you can educate. That doesn’t seem to be too controversial — education.

You’ve said, “I don’t dig Donald Trump.” Why?

I said I’m going to vote for Hillary Clinton. But my philosophy is that everything’s workable. If Trump is president, I’ll work with that guy. I don’t know if he’s terrible or what. He’s refreshing in that he doesn’t speak in that political way. I don’t quite understand why everybody hates Hillary so much.

It’s been 45 years since The Last Picture Show. What did you take away from it?

I’ve got a stand-in — one of my dear friends, Loyd Catlett, who was born in Wichita Falls. He was a 16-year-old, kind of hired to teach all us California kids what a Texas kid is like. We’ve done over 60 films together.

What makes people adore the Dude?

He is who he is and doesn’t mess around with trying to be something else. It’s kind of a mystery to me. I’m one of those guys that spins through the clicker when I’m watching TV. When one of my movies comes on, I’ll watch a scene or two. With Lebowski, I say, oh, I’ll just watch John Turturro lick the ball. But then I get hooked. Each time you see the movie, it’s richer.

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