Artwork by BUBBLE GUN
FRESH AIR: As the child of two Hollywood actors, Jeff Bridges can’t remember the first time he was on a film set. He wasn’t yet 2 years old when he appeared in the 1951 film The Company She Keeps with his mother, Dorothy Dean Bridges. Later, he and his brother, Beau Bridges, sometimes appeared in the TV series Sea Hunt, which starred their father, Lloyd Bridges. But despite his early exposure to show business, Bridges tells Fresh Air‘s Dave Davies he wasn’t always sure he wanted to be an actor. “I had a lot of different interests,” Bridges says. “I wanted to get into music and painting. … And my father said, ‘Oh Jeff, don’t be ridiculous. That’s the wonderful thing about acting is you get to incorporate all of your interests in your parts.’ ” Looking back, Bridges is glad he listened to his dad. Over the course of his career, he has appeared in scores of films, including The Last Picture Show, The Big Lebowski and Crazy Heart, for which he won the Best Actor Oscar in 2010. In his latest film, Hell or High Water, Bridges plays an aging Texas ranger tracking two bank robbers. The actor says that no matter what the role, he tries to approach each film with the same spirit as his father. “That joy that he brought with him into the set was kind of contagious, and it would spread through the company,” Bridges says. “He really wanted all his kids to go into acting, because he loved it so much.” MORE
NPR: Embracing small heist-film cliches while cannily dodging big ones, Hell or High Water is a sort of present-day mashup of Bonnie and Clyde, No Country for Old Men, and Heat. It follows two thirty-something brothers on a campaign of small-time bank jobs across West Texas. Chris Pine, hungry to prove starship captaincy is not his only skill (it’s not), is the handsome and smart one. Ben Foster is the loud one, a hot-tempered ex-con whose impulsiveness seems destined to kill them both.
They’re desperate, as we’ll learn, but still cautious: They choose their targets strategically, and strike early in the morning, before those banks fill up with concealed-carrying customers. (This is the Lone Star State, after all, though the movie was shot in New Mexico). They take only the loose drawer money — no bill-bundles that could contain a dye pack, and they certainly aren’t going to hang around trying to open a vault. Crime flicks far more fetishistic and lurid than this one have attended to this sort of how-to; what these two know about robbing banks they probably learned from movies. But this one has something up its sleeve.
Hunting the brothers are a pair of Texas Rangers. Jeff Bridges stops just shy of reprising his phlegm-choked role as Sheriff Rooster Cogburn from the Coen brothers’ remake of True Grit, playing a slow-moving but conscientious lawman on what is — of course — his last case before retirement. He affectionately peppers his stoic partner, Gil Birmingham, with racial invective. “You know I’m part Mexican,” Birmingham says after one especially artful indictment of his Native-American heritage. “I’ll get to that,” Bridges croaks. MORE