Crazy Heart the Jeff Bridges film Directed by first timer Scott Cooper opened to rave reviews in New York and Los Angeles. Then had a debut in Royal Oak with an advanced screening at Landmark Theatres/Main Art on Main Street. This was a special advanced screening and no tickets were sold for this show.
Scott Cooper hosted an exclusive Q&A immediately following the screening with a one on one interview with he and I in a near bye empty theatre. I was the only reporter allowed to interview him after the screening and I felt very privileged to do so.
Photo by Larry Garcia-DetroitCountryMusic.com/Venupix
Crazy Heart is about Bad Blake, a country singer who lives a pretty hard life with too many marriages, too many drinks and way too long on the road.
In Crazy Heart, a screenplay based on a 1987 novel by Thomas Cobb, Bad Blake is a character recognizable in every outlaw country singer from the last 40 years. Blake was once a bigger star in his field but now plays in bowling alleys and dives. Time and over indulgence have put wear and tear on this character, which makes him lovable yet a little forlorn.
Cooper said that he never really saw anyone other than Jeff Bridges for the main character and he may not have made the movie if he didn’t get on board.
After spending 24 days filming in New Mexico, Cooper felt like he had captured the essence of Bad and other characters portrayed in the film. You really feel like you’re there with every scene being set up with precision with everything from lighting to staging of the furniture.
I sat down with Scott Cooper for a few minutes and he explained how his life has been quite a whirlwind since the first Premiere in LA and New York and he is still running from town to town promoting this amazing film.
Cooper had said he thought this was an award winner and the release date was set with that in mind. He also told me when he set out to put this production together that he had everything very clear in his mind how he wanted it but realizes when you hire geniuses in their field like T-Bone Burnett you sometimes just have to let them do their thing.
Obviously this movie has turned into an multi award winner, Crazy Heart was nominated for the three categories and won two Oscars including Music for "The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)" and Best Actor in a Leading Role Jeff Bridges. This is the fifth Academy Award nomination for Jeff Bridges. He was previously nominated for The Contender in 2000, Starman in 1984, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot in 1974 and The Last Picture Show in 1971 as Leading Actor and Supporting Actor category.
Photo-Jeff & maggie - Maggie Gyllenhaal, left, presents Jeff Bridges with the award for best male lead for "Crazy Heart" at the Independent Spirit Awards on Friday, March 5, 2010, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
Photo-Ryan Bingham, and T Bone Burnett accept the Oscar for best achievement in music written for motion pictures for "The Weary Kind" from "Crazy Heart" at the 82nd Academy Awards Sunday, March 7, 2010, in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
The following is an interview with CMT News writer Chet Flippo-Jeff talks about his Oscar Winning role as Bad in Crazy Heart.
CMT: I understand that you rejected the script for Crazy Heart when it was first submitted to you.
I did! Because -- not that it was a bad script, but it was missing an essential ingredient. It didn't have any music! Quite a few years ago, I did a movie called The Fabulous Baker Boys and that set the bar pretty high for me as far as doing a story about a musician. On that, we had the great Dave Grusin, who was a musical hound who organized all the music, but we also had all these great jazz and pop standards to work with, but on this one we had nothin'!
Then about a year later, I ran into my old buddy T Bone Burnett and he said, "What do you think about this Crazy Heart script?" I said, "Why do you ask? Are you interested in that?" He said, "Hey, I'll do it if you'll do it." And I said, "Come on! Let's go, man!"
You have been very careful throughout your career about choosing scripts. Is that something you learned from your father, Lloyd Bridges, who became typecast as a scuba diver?
Yeah! He got his big break -- you remember Sea Hunt? Well, my father was a classically-trained actor who also sang beautifully, and not many people remember that he replaced Richard Kiley in Man of La Mancha on Broadway. But back in the early '60s, he got this great part of Mike Nelson in Sea Hunt and he pulled that off so well that people thought he was a skin diver, and so he got nothing but scripts about skin divers. And so that kind of gave me a heads up about -- don't develop too strong a persona because people will think that's who you are. So I have really tried to mix it up.
Is there any of the character Jack Baker in the character Bad Blake?
Well, their love of music is certainly there. Passion -- their passion for music. One of the things T Bone did that helped me get a hold of this character was that he made me a chart of the music that Bad Blake would have listened to growing up. It was Jimmy Reed and all of those guys, but it was also Ornette Coleman. Music is not a narrow kind of thing. One of the guys who gave us a great song for the movie is Greg Brown. He's kind of done it his own way. You know, radio is a different deal these days. It's hard to get on board that train. But he's done it his own way and he has a great fan base that supports his music.
In becoming Bad Blake in the movie, did you approach the character first looking at him as a musician or as a person?
I worked on it in the same way that I work on all my parts, really. Just look at aspects of myself that kind of parallel the guy, really. And music is certainly a thing that both Bad and I share. I love music and I know that he does -- or did -- how do you describe that? But I used a lot of that. But one of the cool things about having the music kind of after the fact -- and having somebody as talented as Bone at the helm -- is that we tailor-made the songs that were written specifically for the movie to be what the character was all about. There's a wonderful song called "Somebody Else" -- "I used to be somebody and now I'm somebody else" -- and that kind of sums up Bad Blake pretty well, I think.
You have worked as a musician before.
Yeah. I put an album out a few years ago called Be Here Soon that one of the homeboys here [in Nashville] Michael McDonald produced and sang on.
What was it like working with the late Stephen Bruton on this movie?
He was something. You know, the birth of the music for this movie really started 30 years ago when we did Heaven's Gate and [Kris] Kristofferson, who was the star of that movie, had all his musicians with him. T Bone and Bruton and all of them and that was six months of jamming every night after work, man. So there were a lot of connections there. And Kris was certainly, you know, a role model for Bad Blake. One of the things that the director Scott Cooper told me early on was that if Bad Blake were a real person, he'd be the fifth Highwayman. And that made sense to me and that helped me out a lot.
How did you physically try to look like one of the Highwaymen or country music outlaws in this role?
Gee, I don't know. It's funny. Some of that preparation comes unconsciously or subconsciously. Of course I had looked at those guys, I had looked at Waylon [Jennings], and Willie [Nelson] and Johnny [Cash] and Townes [Van Zandt].
What was your approach to singing in a role like this?
T Bone directed me, which helped tremendously. And T Bone turned me on to a wonderful vocal coach in L.A., Roger Love, and the key, as you say, is not to overdo it. That's something I apply to not only singing but also to acting.
How did you go about portraying a character who has a constant alcohol buzz on in the film?
One of the things that I do when I start working on a script is that I will do a breakdown -- so that I have the whole script broken down for my character in each scene. So, if he's an alcoholic, since we shoot scenes out of order, I keep track of my character. What he weighs and how he walks, what kind of physical shape he's in, how much he's drunk. What he's like in each scene. This guy was not in great physical shape, so that meant I could eat that second pint of Haagen-Dazs. While I didn't work drunk, it meant that I could have that second drink after work, so a little hangover wouldn't be too bad.
Photo-Jeff Bridges poses backstage with the Oscar for best performance by an actor in a leading role for "Crazy Heart" at the 82nd Academy Awards Sunday, March 7, 2010, in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
Photo-Jeff Bridges, left, performs with T Bone Burnett at the Independent Spirit Awards on Friday, March 5, 2010, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
Scott Cooper – Director, Writer, Producer
Composer: T Bone Burnett
Related link - Entertainment Examiner