Continuing with our series of interviews with the cast of TRON: Legacy, if you’re a fan of Jeff Bridges, you’re in the right place. That’s because at the Los Angeles press junket, I got to participate in a roundtable interview with “The Dude” and he talked about the new technology that was used to make Tron, how he prepared to play both Kevin Flynn and Clu, how he decides which project to take, his upcoming album and tour with T-Bone Burnett, the Coen Brothers, and a lot more. Hit the jump to either read or listen to the interview:
Since many of you like reading transcripts and others like to listen to an interview, I’m offering two ways to get the interview with Jeff Bridges. You can either read the complete transcript below or click here for the audio.
Finally, here’s a link to all our TRON: Legacy coverage which includes on set interviews, movie clips, behind the scenes footage, and all the posters and images that have been released.
TRON: Legacy gets released December 17.
Question: Is that the book? (Book is possibly one of three things: “The Art of Tron” which covers aspects of pre-production and post-production of Tron, “Tron: Betrayal” which is a Tron: Legacy prequel comic-book, or “Tron: Legacy: Out of the Dark” a paperback novelization)
Jeff Bridges: Yeah I haven’t even seen it yet, it just came in today!
I didn’t know you did the book for Tron
Bridges: I wasn’t gonna, cause I didn’t take too many pictures on that. There’s a lot of pictures of me actually in this (laughs). It’s kind of bizarre, I usually don’t like to do that. Pass it around and see.
You did such a great job
Bridges: Thank you, thank you so much
You’ve been promoting this for a while, but could you talk about your first time seeing the final version of this?
Bridges: I haven’t seen it yet. You guys are ahead of me on that score.
Have you seen any of the finished footage of you working with 1982 you?
Bridges: No, I haven’t seen that. I’m dying to see it, I’ve seen some of the earlier incarnations of Clu and I was impressed. But I haven’t seen the final one, they’ve been polishing it right up until the end.
What was that experience like for you, first of all acting with yourself, and then also knowing that there’s a version of you now that can exists from any point in your career on a hard drive and that you can play yourself at any age?
Bridges: I mean it’s opening a whole new deal, man. They can combine actors! A little, you know, Bob Duvall, Lou Costello or something and then they push a button and fuse those guys, and they have some other actor drive that image. It’s really going back to becoming a writers medium, because now anything’s possible. There’s no sets, no costumes, it’s all done in post. Even the camera angles, where the camera is. It’s crazy.
As an actor how’d you split those two characters in your head for your performance? How did you approach each one differently?
Bridges: Well you know the technology—or what was required of me in just acting those two parts really helped. With playing Flynn where I was my own age, it was often practical sets and a costume. And then when I would do Clu it would often be shot in a thing called the volume. It could be any size room, with sensors that look almost like these little sprinkler things. They’re not cameras they’re computer sensors. And you stand in a T like this, and they [capture] ya and you’re in the computer. And you’re [in] a leotard with all these dots on your face and this funny helmet with cameras, so just that in itself puts you in a different—you know it’s nice to imagine in your head what it must be like to live in a grid or something, just [being] in that strange circumstance that helps that.
Bridges: Oh man, it’s so chock full of stuff. I’ve got True Grit coming out, I don’t know if it’s coming out before or after Tron (it comes out after). And then on top of this thing, the cherry on this sundae is I’m making an album with T-Bone Burnett right now (laughs). I mean right now! After I leave here I’m goin’ to the studio and we’re cuttin’ some more tracks with this band that’s just phenomenal.
Bridges: That is cool.
When is the album gonna be out?
Bridges: We don’t know. But sometime next year.
Did you put something of Jeff Lebowski in Neil Flynn?
Bridges: You know there is a little bit of a connection between Flynn and Lebowski, The Dude. Since I’m playing it there’s that natural—but they’re of the same generation so I think they would get along, those guys. Maybe not, maybe The Dude would say “Relax! Just take it easy Flynn” (laughs).
The Dude’s digital reality would probably be a lot different.
Bridges: Yeah yeah I think so.
What kind of drugs do you think we would find inside this world?
Bridges: I bet that Casper—or no what’s his name, Zeus right? He was called Casper for a while. But Michael Sheen’s character, he’s probably got some amazing psychedelics, or I don’t know what he’s got in those green drinks. Blue or green, what are they?
I love the color of those. The icy blue.
Bridges: Yeah yeah.
Bridges: I thought, “eh you really wanna do that?” I can understand with all the technology that’s available now, it’s kind of a no-brainer why they would wanna do it. But I didn’t really wanna participate unless the story was good. And I was most interested in taking part in creating a modern day myth; you know I thought we could use a good myth about technology to help guide us through these particular modern waters right now. And so I asked if I could bring on board a friend of mine, Bernie Glassman, who’s a Zen Master. He has a wonderful site called Zenpeacemakers.org. And if you wanna find out about Bernie, Google his name or go to that site. I was just at a symposium that he held for socially engaged Buddhism, and I wanted to get some of his input on this so he was brought on board and put some of the kind of Zen spin on it.
Did you love science-fiction books and movies when you were very young?
Bridges: Yeah I loved Ray Bradbury, [Robert] Heinlein you know, I liked him. 2001 I don’t know if you get movies that are much better than that, I loved that. Starman I was in [that] movie and really enjoyed that film. Yeah I loved, as a kid growing up, I loved science-fiction.
Bridges: Yeah. You know what we’re working on currently? And it’s a lot of fun to do this, and doing it with Tron you know was a wonderful experience, especially having [Steven] Lisberger on board, the guy who wrote it and directed it. And I go to do that with another movie, The Last Picture Show, twenty years later we did Texasville. And now I was just in Texas with Peter [Bogdanovich] and we’re looking at doing the next installment of the Texas—there’s actually five books that Larry McMurtry wrote about those characters and so we’ve done two and we wanna do the next thing. I don’t know if that’s ever happened before, you know every 20 years goin’ back and doin’ that. So that’s something that I’m hopin’ will come about.
Would you do The Dude again if the Coens came to you?
Bridges: Oh yeah, are you kidding me? I don’t think they will, but it’s kind of set up like that with the, “I happen to know there’s a little Dude in the oven” or what does he say, I can’t remember the line. But you know it’s set up for that (laughs).
I’m curious, you’ve obviously reached a point where a lot of people are approaching you with scripts, wanting you to do their projects. What’s your criteria for wanting to take on a role or get involved with a project? How does it happen with you?
Bridges: I guess, a couple of things come up as you ask that, I’m drawn to movies that I wanna see, and those are usually movies where the filmmaker is kind of ahead of you, you don’t know quite what’s gonna happen, I like goin’ to movies like that and I like being a part of movies [like that]. My M.O. is funny, it’s usually very resistant. You know I really try hard not to work, not to engage, because I know what that means. What hard work it is, it takes me away from my family. My wife and I were separated last year for 11 months. You know she comes for visits and stuff but it’s just, that’s the down side of it. And also when you engage in one thing, it’s very possible that something’s gonna come right around the corner that you can’t do because you’re already doing this. So I really try to resist engagement, and when I can’t resist, that’s what I end up doing. You know, when it’s just too groovy, like the Coen brothers or Crazy Heart or Tron, when it’s just too appealing I can’t resist it.
What is the big moment in the movie?
Bridges: Of Tron?
Bridges: Yeah I would imagine, the climax of the film. I guess, I don’t know, I haven’t seen it yet. What do you think?
Bridges: The finale. Yeah, oh it’s good? Good.
Oh I liked when you saw your son. I have a little nine year old and his group of boys, that’s a great connection. They’re gonna love this movie.
Bridges: Yeah? Oh great. Good. Garrett [Hedlund] was so wonderful to work with. And Olivia [Wilde].
Like the daddy’s son
Bridges: Well that’s because, you know we had a connection off [camera].
There’s so many different characters in your career, is there something, some book, some dream, that you haven’t done that you want to do?
Bridges: Well I mentioned the Picture Show, those characters; I really would like to see that. And I’ve got a few other movies that I don’t wanna talk about, you know I don’t wanna dissipate the energy behind it. So I don’t wanna mention those. But my music, was I just in here talking about my album? Yeah I just said that. The music is a big force in me now. I really feel like—I’m goin’ on 61 years old now and I’ve been playing music since I was a teenager, and now for some reason all the stars are aligned and it’s just comin’ out. That’s my big dream that’s being realized as we speak.
Isn’t it interesting to be an Oscar winner and there’s still this big dream that’s got you jazzed?
Bridges: Yeah, and then what’s so weird about it is that the Oscar was about a musician and it’s all connected. And with my dear friend T-Bone Burnett and this guy standing in the back here, my friend Johnny Goodwin—he’s my oldest friend, we go back to the fourth grade making music and art together. He wrote a song in Crazy Heart and on this new album he’s got a bunch of songs. So it’s all of these dreams kind of coming through. I’ve gotta say I blame Scott Cooper, the director of Crazy Heart, for making that happen. He was one of the best directors that I’ve ever worked with.
I know you gotta go, but are you thinking about going on tour next year?
Bridges: Oh yeah, absolutely!
So we’ll see you performing in venues?
Bridges: I think so. You know what name we’re going for, are you a Lebowski fan?
Bridges: We’re calling ourselves “The Royal We” (laughs). What do you think, is it too weird?
I think people are gonna love it. Do you sing, do you play?
Bridges: Play, write, sing yeah.