Speaker I think we should talk about how the sort of I know you one of the producers in Crazy Heart. Yeah. And I'd love you to tell that story sort of how this whole I think that film, to my mind, is kind of a trajectory from you doing Tender Mercies, Marshall.

Speaker A little bit. Little bit. Yeah, a little bit. Yeah. Nose connection. Country music has always been kind of resonates with certain filmmakers and for film making audiences. Yeah. And so how did this whole thing for you. Well I know Scott did an adaptation of the novel and he he's a good writer. He writes quickly and they they thought of different people, I think. And I think Jeff at one time had turned it down so they might other people then it came back and when people were they came aboard, then it became solidified as far as a reality is far away.

Speaker Jeff was concerned when he's looking at a piece of a piece of work like this, when you start looking at a script from a young writer, what what moves you when you start? I mean, it's like going back to. Yeah. I mean, it this kind of writing is unparalleled. So that script is a I mean, you come out. That's it, doesn't it? There's a cosmic script. So I guess what I'm trying to say is this is a young guy. This is a new script.

Speaker Yes. From a book called. That was an original script screenplay by Horton.

Speaker And was. You know, he he he loved the love the novel. And he was looking to make that adaptation, which he did. And then and then I think that I sent a letter to Jeff. Would you consider doing this? You know, we try to make it.

Speaker It's. I know what the word is foolproof as possible or worse. Yes.

Speaker And so and then when T Bone Burnett came on board, then, you know. And then the investors when it first. They weren't sure about Scott because it was a first time. Right. There was somebody that turned us down. I forget who we should forget. Then we'll go to somebody else. So we got the right people. Scott's a very bright guy and he had his vision and he should be the guy he directed. He was great. And he now he's turned down a her descriptions. Are you getting the right one? That is a follow up.

Speaker Well, interestingly, I said there's no Nazi in the welcome to during the duration of making this film. But of the five Academy Award nominations that Jeff has had over his lifetime. Three of them are first time directors.

Speaker And he really I think he loved working with Scott. That's what he said. Yeah. Who are the other two directors you work with?

Speaker Scott. Steve Clovis. Excuse me. Mark Bronzeville. Michael Cimino. Thing about life goes way back here.

Speaker Peter Bogdanovich with the one was Last Picture Show. Well, he was up for that, too. That was my way. That was the first one he was in practically.

Speaker He was a kid. I knew I knew Jeff before he was an actor. SAT on the grass and play the guitar. Play touch football and everything with the father. I knew and I knew Bo in the family. And then, you know, way back Mike, when we were young, my brother said, there's an interesting acronym movie which was The Father. And then caught our attention then as the years went by, was Bo. The day that the family's very charismatic. And then Jeff became the one, you know?

Speaker Absolutely. And again, this this long trajectory. So over this period of time and now at this point to come around on this Academy Award nomination with A First-Time director in doing this music, doing this so well, when I first knew Jeff, who sat on the grass and played a guitar.

Speaker So he's always been into music. I didn't know the family that well, but I knew cash I knew bore more. And we all should play tennis and everything and touch football. But he was always into music, as I understand it. Jeff with the guitar and folk singing and some country music.

Speaker So I think it was not a big stretch for him to jump into this for, you know, full force for you and for any of this sort of kind of getting him into that where we saw some wonderful footage of him working with deep roots and working with him to sort of figure out where this character was.

Speaker No one was around so much that was wounded and in in t bone. And they all work together closely.

Speaker And the music part of the whole project where you are you. Yes. And in terms of music for yourself, having done that beautiful tender mercies part is it is it is that country stuff particularly compelling to you?

Speaker Always has been. Since I was a kid, my brothers both were operatic singers and at my apartment in New York City had been owned by Caruso at one time on Eighty-six and Broadway. Twenty five foot ceiling or people from the Metropolitan Opera haha would be warming up and I'd be playing Lefty Frizzell on the second floor and they say, would you please keep your music I. Well as my music and that's your music. And I like both. Obviously I grew up listening to tenors. My brothers and so forth. But I've always liked country music when I was in the army left in Brazil. Hank Williams know Hank Thompson. And so I've always like country music. So it wasn't that wasn't a stretch for me to step into that and do that in that movie anymore than probably it was for Jeff and in this movie. The difference being for me in this movie, he had no support system as a character. My character in the other movie, I had a support system because I married a woman with a stepson and I had a baptism and somehow they helped me get out of it. But with Jeff's character, he was pretty much isolated and on his own as a solo act, trying to survive, you know, in spite of it and with it and with his demons.

Speaker Exactly. And the redemption still come.

Speaker Yeah. Yeah. It's more of an individual struggle than a mini collective thing.

Speaker But in this case, it was also the same sort of dynamic. It was still a woman with a child, right? That's right, Dad.

Speaker But the thing I liked about that woman and many women when women would not do this.

Speaker She said that's it, pal.

Speaker Many women will go back to him, but once her offspring were threatened, I'll be a friend. But no more no more lover, which I thought was interesting from from a woman's point of view, that woman could be that strong. Many women would not be that strong.

Speaker I think you're right. And I also think that one of the things that to me is is extraordinary about this is that rather than I think rather than sort of falling off into, then he will continue to sort of disappear. He will continue to sort of corrode why he does it.

Speaker And he does. But the original script he did and the book he did, but they wanted a little more up thing, the studios, which is understandable. Well, why not?

Speaker Exactly when I did. In one sense, one of the things that I think, you know, you didn't want to greet this film is the Rock Virgin or the music version of The Wrestler Way. Right. You know, it is still important, I think, for there to be a believable redemption. And there is a believable.

Speaker Yeah, I think so, yeah. And these guys go back and forth, back and forth. I know he looked at a documentary my wife did not. Billy Joe Shaver's Billy Joe the Great Willie Nelson says the best living songwriter. And Billy Joe goes up and down, up and down, up and down, back and forth, you know, so there it is. Quite a quite a a world they live in, as they say.

Speaker And I think the depiction of the world is is pretty, right.

Speaker Yeah. Can be. Can be. And sometimes it's it's worked out to be rough. They don't try to get out of it. Sometimes they they work at it to be different and steeped in that.

Speaker When you started thinking about casting this, so Jeff became somebody, did you realize really the depth of how? I mean, you knew he played music, you knew he'd been one of these guys is just sort of hung around his guitar. Did you expect this kind of performance or did you expect this kind of ride for this film?

Speaker Yeah. No. Because, you know, first of all, he's an actor. And then if he does music, secondary is fine for an actor. When he won Academy Awards, say, hey, pal, I've been always bragging about you. I remember I called one of these talk show guys that were like talking about Titian at Nishan. And I said, hey, look, here's a guy off the beaches of.

Speaker Santa Monica took an hour at most any those people in the actress studio. Forty fourth and ninth in Manhattan for remnants of the group theater. Here's a kid who, you know, it just does it instinctively, although he's fathered and he did get together, talk about like Michael checkoffs. So he had a good mentor in his father, but, you know, was a wonderful natural actor that that came to fruition through the years in a continuing way. And he didn't need the actors who didn't need New York. He did. If he decided to be a stay, Jack, I'm sure he could have done it.

Speaker Well, it's very interesting that you bring a check up again, because he does. He isn't. I mean, several years ago, they're filming Misfits. And Eli Wallach was talking about the difference between Clark Gable. And to end. Oh, my God. Ritter, Ritter and Clark Gable being out of Hollywood, straight actors, no method. No, none of that Actor's Studio training. And of course, there they all were.

Speaker Eli and I guess are the other worth or had some, you know, antagonisms who directed I forget John Houston, the misfit who did John Houston.

Speaker He did a great movie for me.

Speaker Well, it was interesting about it is that I think there's a lot of people who probably share that feeling, but they're the character of Gable. That kind of actor is much more where Geoff falls. This is not a study social.

Speaker More Spencer Tracy. There was a great actor except the critic for the Havana newspaper ripped him when he did. Oh, man. And she said it was a it was an Anglican with a wide girth trying to play a Latin, you know. So you always have your weaknesses. And those people who don't fly, you know, a guy like Spencer Tracy was a wonderful actor.

Speaker And again, a very natural. Very, very natural. Yeah.

Speaker Very much so.

Speaker Talk about this. Like, do you I mean, did you when you started seeing that this film is really catching on. People were really grabbing hold of this nice ride. And this was a.

Speaker Oh, yeah. It's a nice shot. I mean, you know, even when we did get low, I think these two films would have fit in very well in the 70s. They say that was the end of rich, wonderful filmmaking within the system. Now it's outside the system. And some people say they have been good movies made since the 70s were that these these movies could just press your crazy hard to fit into the 70s. Better than some of them, maybe.

Speaker Well, also I mean, it also has a great authenticity to it. Yes, it it great. You know, this, again, is such a great feeling of truth inside of it that it feels to me that it's kind of timeless and where it falls. Yeah, exactly. Like a precious little film. Right. Feels. It feels like an intimate film, but it doesn't feel right.

Speaker Yeah. I mean, now once again. As if the independent filmmaking was within the system in the 70s.

Speaker Now it's legitimately outside the system because they make these big 100 million dollar movies. She had to raise one hundred million dollars with its name that it might fail anyway. Then the race of 10 million.

Speaker Was it hard to get this film made?

Speaker Yeah, well, kind of. But to get the money. But, you know, they got it. They you know, they they got it. You know, it's always a little difficult to get seven or eight million dollars.

Speaker Yeah, I it just was in London. I have to talk to you about this. I just was in London to see Terry Gilliam and he's telling me that you're going to be Don Quixote. Yeah, but he's lost his mind.

Speaker Oh, he just happened. It happened the day we were there. He had just really hit you in Europe. Was there two weeks ago. And I got the London. And the first thing he said to me is my financing just fell through.

Speaker I'm supposed to do a movie in Scotland with a guy with some money. If I go do that, maybe I can introduce the two women. Yeah. Yeah. But I mean, you know, he wouldn't have thought of me. I played a part of a Cuban barber at one time.

Speaker He remembered that a Latin guy. I think I have a way of playing. It should be a one I read. The novel, it... It could be a wonderful project. Working with Terry is a very ingenious guy, you know. But, you know, who knows? You know. You know, I mean, somebody said there's a list of the ten best films that never get made on a yearly basis. And hopefully that's not going to stay that way, don't he? Haughty and end.

Speaker And, you know, did you see that film Lost in the Margin, which Jeff actually did the narration, which is all of his, which were now the one of Terry's demise, trying to get this made the first time?

Speaker Or did did you after that? It did. All right. Right. Well, now it's a totally different script. It's very interesting. And I have some really, I think some good ideas how to approach the part. I think, you know, I've I've started riding horses again to ride well to to be able to look like you ride badly. You know what I'm saying? But I'm riding horses. I can only ride horses now if I have a project in my you know, because they're not machines, you have to be careful. So I don't know. We'll see. Hopefully it'll still happen.

Speaker Well, I hope it does. Yeah. Because it could be pretty interesting. Beautiful. Yeah. I mean, I think this. Yeah. You and Terry. Yeah. Yeah. Something about that.

Speaker He came to visit me on my farm in Virginia. I mean and that's only happened twice. Usually people don't come in to visit you either. Keep looking at his watch tickets to track the play.

Speaker He's still came to visit me to come to this country for 30 days a year. I know he doesn't like it or we I take it to Texas, you might like it is a part of Texas. I love you might like it.

Speaker Do you feel do you feel particularly, I mean, your part to increasing at such a great business?

Speaker Yeah, but it just I took the part negative Welburn more. I just took it to help and do as best I could, you know, and so forth and so on. Could have been more. Could have been more.

Speaker Did you wish to be more. Do you just.

Speaker Well I'm not one that always asks for more. Sometimes I like a small part, I really do. I got took on a road recently but I took it to help the film. You know, they say you have to be in it to help the film. I'm not so sure that's true, but maybe. But it was OK to be in it. Yeah, it was. Sing a little song at the end. I sang a song at the end and then Billy Joe Shaver's who wrote that song, called us and thanked us for using his song. I thought, well then I find out I guess you should thank us. We had to pay you forty thousand dollars. I know that would have opened my mouth on a different song.

Speaker Well, the songwriters, that's the other part of it, I think is sort of fascinating is that he not only is he performing in this place as part of a songwriter. Yes. Songwriters are so themselves. I think that a remarkable.

Speaker Yeah, well, there's Steve on Vanessa. Pretty interesting guy.

Speaker Very, very talented guy.

Speaker And we were fortunate to have him when he said Jeff said that he was because he wanted it really ultimately that he came back.

Speaker That's why I said it solidified the whole thing. I don't know if he would have done, but he got together. They got to get kind of independent and. Well, that's so independent, totally from the director, but somewhat to really confirm and find out what they wanted to do. And I think that bolstered. You know, Jesh confidence and in the end in the whole project.

Speaker I think also it have what happens if he doesn't? It's very obvious here and we actually are lucky enough to have some of this footage. He really immerses himself also in learning about people who have these lives.

Speaker Yeah, who's that? Well, Jeff, does he? Yes, of course. So what he did was with Broten in terms of just how Broden helped him a lot with what would I do here?

Speaker What would I do there?

Speaker You know, in a brewton or a guitar was a wonderful guitarist and chilling him. He told it that it had given him a timeline of BBT.

Speaker Bowdon between what he mean a timeline or timeline of who this guy would have listened to in his life. So when he's a young guy and one of the things is very nice of his footage that exists is that talks to him. But one, when you were young, you played this this way. You know how you're you know, you're over your head, you're older, you're kind of messed up. My voice is doing this. You play it more this way. And and apparently they sort of suggested to him, here's to you to listen to all the way along. You've listened to Waylon Jennings here in the West Bank while he was here. And by about now, you're listening to Merle Haggard or whatever. And I think it was something very interesting and understanding, getting in in getting sort of schooled in that right. Listening, even listening and then how to evoke that.

Speaker Yeah, a lot like Waylon Jennings. Yeah, I knew. Well, I'm pretty well. Yeah, exactly. I knew a few of those guys ever since turned to Mahshid. Interesting. Gosh.

Speaker What did you do in Tender Mercies. Was this or this was this, was this just evocative of your own love. How do you how do you mean what. Well, what was did you have somebody that was sort of propelling.

Speaker Well, when I finished a Willie Nelson said, did you eat Murro? And as I said, not particularly. Although I loved Merle, you know, Hagger I like I always have liked him, but it was a place for Italy, Texas. I would sing with a band every Cheri Nitish real honky tonk place and people would dance. But it was a great feeling. Hopefully won't be too many fistfights, but I would sing with the band, you know, which was nice. And Jeff did too, I think tonight to sing at the Beekman Theater. I have some, as I maybe do in L.A., maybe I can. But here it's wonderful. Yeah. Big success in Boston, I hear.

Speaker I think that I just think that the the. I got to say, just the truth of it is so is with is what's so compelling in this film. And I think that's why when I say to you, it feels like sort of the next, you know, next generation of tender mercies, it's because there's that.

Speaker Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. Yeah. I mean. Yeah. Very much so. Yeah.

Speaker I mean overseas is a remarkable. Who's that tender mercies you remember.

Speaker Yeah. It's a nice movie. Yeah. I think it was a nice movie Horten for you know when we did the crazy. I mean I get low.

Speaker The funeral scene, the first day they were filming the coffin comes out. My wife, my wife's off camera talking. When the cameras rolling, she got the news and Horten footage just died like full circle. I was telling you should see this, you know. And when we talk to help towards help and producer Crazy Heart, Horten for sir, will you please tell Jeff for me how much I like his works? Were I? One of the first things I told Jeff when I saw him was a great, great restraint.

Speaker And there's great. It's very I think he's an extraordinary writer in that film to me, that character. I mean, characters have had a rather different character. That's a you know, you are much more beaten down in some way.

Speaker Yeah. Yes. He has more, you know, and he has a support system on that new wife and child. Yeah.

Speaker But when you first I mean, you're very quiet. Yeah. That's not quite the same demeanor that, you know, that bad is doing.

Speaker Yeah. And I think that the music we touched upon was a little more country pooka. Well, I said thinking crazy was more like. Country rock or, you know, more like whenever I'm not so sure, there's little different, little different, but, you know, both authentic, anything, no one else you want to tell me, you know?

Speaker Yeah. Boo Radley. Boo Radley. That was my first one. It was like full cycle bull rally, too.

Speaker When we filmed the sheening in and get low, you know, it's like Horton was there like was so goose pimples, like he was there. They died in the death scene.

Speaker Kind of the perfect. I mean, you are the perfect fit.

Speaker Yeah. We get like I did a play visit that neighborhood playhouse way back called the Midnight Caller that night. Kim Stanley came, Robert Mulligan Horton and his wife played a drunk guy, kid, guy, you know, looking for somebody, his girlfriend. And about two years later, when they were to cast a party, To Kill a Mockingbird, Horton Foote's wife said, What about that boy? He shot the neighborhood playhouse. So that's where, you know, Robert Mulligan, the drug. He had been there that night. So it was my first part.

Speaker And I did about four or five nice films with Horton Computability The Convicts we did tomorrow from the Faulkner short story did quite a few. Yeah. He was the one who really was a great writer. Did you see the nine hours, the play here in New York? Nine hours. I would have sat the nine hour one day. We did it seven hours and to the next. Beautiful stuff. Beautiful. Each one of our great playwrights of all time.

Speaker Yeah. And Lonesome Dove, by the way, had a great one.

Speaker That was my favorite part. But you know some. Well, I don't want to talk about all this. I mean I mean, you know, I took out a thing I did years ago. I didn't realize it that I did a scene that I thought as good as I've ever done when I played Joseph Stalin. That's the closing scene with my daughter. Talking about the wife who committed suicide by committing suicide, she betrayed me, his paranoia that I think it's as good as I've done. Although another TV thing. Why not do TV? It's all action and cut anyway. You know, that was very different from Lonesome Dove, my wife from Argentina. She still had to see lots.

Speaker Oh, yes.

Speaker It's a Bible in the state of Texas. Families get together at least once a year, sometimes more to watch it as a family.

Speaker Well, between McMurtry and Rick. Well, I mean, these guys were in it murdering Jeff. The Last Picture Show. So here it was, McMurtry with Jeff and Last Picture Show.

Speaker And this guy and now Scott is writing. When I did a film just did down in the hill country of Texas, empire of the summer moon on the Comanches that were there. He's he's conferring with Larry McMurtry now as we speak. Got to do this big epic on the Comanches, which I hope this horse is getting trained, will be here. Yeah.

Speaker This one was just which just made you think about sort of that little ride of McMurtry and and Jeff and.

Speaker But somebody told me the military thought Tommy Lee Jones and I should have switched parts to eat, right? I don't think he's right about that.

Speaker In which Marshall died? Oh, I don't agree. I don't either. I think, you know, no idea. Let me just talk a little bit. One more thing about sort of the Americanness of Jefferson American.

Speaker He's a very you know, I feel like he you you to evoke such a, I think, just deep sense of middle America. That's just what The Lonesome Dove.

Speaker Yeah. That's why I would try to emphasize. Now, when I went back after 20 years, I hadn't seen it where I played Stalin. I will I, I think I caught some. But, you know, you can go outside of America. But I like to represent American characters, especially in certain rural Southern people. And Jeff's the same way, although he's probably done other things.

Speaker I mean, I think that do, as they say, is just astounding when you mentioned it. And then also thinking a little bit about Don Quixote, should it happen. Yeah. And you have done the table stuff. Yeah. But, Jeff, interestingly, I think. I think when you see what you think about him is that this guy is.

Speaker Really?

Speaker An American specimen is absolutely, absolutely in the best sense of the word.

Speaker Exactly, yeah. He. He did a movie with. What's your name? I can think of a name right now with a Dutch director. It was a remake in America.

Speaker The vanished, vanishing, what was it called the vanishing, the vanishing. So I went to hear who the actress was. Who is Sandra Bullock Sen.

Speaker I went to Sandra Bullock and I said, Let me ask you something. Was Jeff imitating the director of the movie? She said absolutely. He used that Dutch accent of the guy. It was obvious to better what that people knew that. But I figured he was doing. He did it well.

Speaker Yeah. Yeah. Yes. But I know what you mean.

Speaker He's you know, he's he represents many things that aspects of America and a very valid way.

Speaker Yeah, he really does. I mean, you can go from being a Tucker, the guy with the big dreams, the big couple. You know, you got to have a character to this burned out guy here, which is just another you know, he can be a president. And yet he's a very American. He's.

Speaker It is. Yes. You know, I liked him as a president with Gary Oldman and Joan Allen. It was an interesting movie. The three of them were wonderful together.

Speaker Yeah, very much so.

Speaker But the core of him, the gist of him, I think remains extremely comfortable, comforting and comfortable to people because there's something that is actually this is their patrimony in his mind.

Speaker Yeah. I think, you know, in common from California, the beaches. And he is a very American guy and without half his head of water, without having to go to New York to do that whole thing, scratching a navel and all that stuff like the Actors Studio. He didn't he didn't need that or why would he need it?

Speaker Even these. And he said to us, too, that when Terry Gilliam cast him in Fisher King as a New York deejay. That he sort of that this is not. And then, of course, he played it great because New York is part of America. Two of you really.

Speaker Of course. But he doesn't have that. Well, what was that? Well, he was I was in Fisher King when he when he was what I was he was very good in that.

Speaker That was my favorite movie by Terry Gilliam. Very interesting movie. But he still. But he didn't seem like a New York Yorker. You just seemed like it could be a Midwestern American who. A disc jockey. Right. Did very well.

Speaker Yeah. Finds himself. Oh, yes. Absolutely.

Robert Duvall
Interview Date:
American Archive of Public Broadcasting GUID:
"Robert Duvall, Jeff Bridges: The Dude Abides." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). 01 Jan. 2010,
(2010, January 01). Robert Duvall, Jeff Bridges: The Dude Abides. [Video]. American Masters Digital Archive (WNET).
"Robert Duvall, Jeff Bridges: The Dude Abides." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). January 01, 2010. Accessed May 29, 2022


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