Jeff Bridges & Maggie Gyllenhaal Crazy Heart

Jeff Bridges & Maggie Gyllenhaal Crazy Heart


Cast: Jeff Bridges, Maggie Maggie Gyllenhaal, Colin Farrell and Robert Duvall
Director: Scott Cooper (feature directorial debut)
Written By: Scott Cooper (based on the novel by Thomas Cobb)
Produced by: Scott Cooper, Rob Carliner, Robert Duvall, Judy Cairo, T-Bone Burnett
Executive Producers: Jeff Bridges, Michael A. Simpson, Eric Brenner, Leslie Belzberg
Genre: Drama

Four-time Academy Award® nominee JEFF BRIDGES stars as the richly comic, semi-tragic romantic anti-hero Bad Blake in the debut feature film CRAZY HEART from writer-director Scott Cooper.

Bad Blake is a broken-down, hard-living country music singer who's had way too many marriages, far too many years on the road and one too many drinks way too many times.

And yet, Bad can't help but reach for salvation with the help of Jean (MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL), a journalist who discovers the real man behind the musician.

As he struggles down the road of redemption, Bad learns the hard way just how tough life can be on one man's crazy heart.

Release: February 18, 2010

Jeff Bridges Immerses Himself In Bad Blake

Jeff Bridges is one of those chameleonesque actors who is perhaps better known for the indelible characters he has played than for his own persona. His memorably naturalistic performances include the charming Texan Duane Jackson in Peter Bogdanovich's THE LAST PICTURE SHOW (garnering his first Oscar® nomination for supporting actor); the irreverent Lightfoot, sidekick to Clint Eastwood's bank robber in Michael Cimino's THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT (his second Oscar nomination); the computer programmer Kevin Flynn, imprisoned inside a computer in the groundbreaking TRON; the alien who crashes to earth in STARMAN (his third Oscar nomination and first for best actor); the lounge pianist Jack Baker in the seductive romance THE FABULOUS BAKER BOYS; the shock-jock talk radio host Jack Lucas in THE FISHER KING; the air crash survivor Max Klein in FEARLESS; the quintessential slacker Jeff Lebowski, aka "The Dude," in the Coen Brothers' THE BIG LEBOWSKI; U.S. President Jackson Evans in the political drama THE CONTENDER (which garnered a fourth Oscar nomination); the industrialist super-villain Obadiah Stane in the blockbuster IRON MAN; and, most recently, psychic Army Officer Bill Django in THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS.

With Bad Blake, Jeff Bridges would vanish once again into the skin of another man, exposing Bad's genius and flaws, his loneliness, foolishness and hopefulness, in the course of his unexpectedly life-changing romance with Jean Craddock.

"I think people are going to look at this as one of Jeff Bridges' signature roles," comments Rob Carliner, "one that you'll always associate with him." For Scott Cooper, the role was always destined to be played by Jeff Bridges. "We knew from the beginning we wanted Jeff without question," he recalls. "He is one of America's finest actors. Every gesture he makes is earned; every thing he does is real. And I knew he was already a very talented musician."

Jeff Bridges says he was drawn like a magnet to the script. "Oh, there were so many wonderful elements to this one," he remarks. "Music, for one, comes to mind. I've been playing music since I was a kid so that was a big draw for me. I also loved Scott's script. We got along instantaneously and he's very talented. He knows country music backwards and forwards and his enthusiasm is contagious. Then there's Bad Blake, who is such a human guy. He's like all of us, with lots of positive qualities and plenty more faults."

He continues: "It was also a chance to work Bob Duvall, who is one of my favorite actors and with some old friends - T Bone Burnett, Stephen Bruton and our production designer, Waldemar Kalinowksi - who all worked on HEAVEN'S GATE together."

Jeff Bridges approached from a music angle first. Although he has been a serious musician for years, and has even recorded an album (BE HERE SOON in 2000), nailing Blake's particular mannerisms was key to the role, as was getting down the style of a man who was once a legend and now performs live as much as Bad Blake does. To immerse himself in that very particular world, Jeff Bridges spent days and nights working with T Bone Burnett and Stephen Bruton - playing and singing and soaking up atmosphere - until it was second nature to him. Only then did the character begin to instinctually emerge.

"Both the acting and the music need to be on an equal level - and they are," observes Carliner.

"Jeff could already play and sing, but he really studied hard to be Bad Blake," the late Stephen Bruton noted. "We tried to make his performances accurate to what a man who has been playing every night for 40 years would really be like, which was a very interesting challenge."

Adds Cooper: "Jeff had to perform in many different ways -- when Bad is drunk, and when he is very sober and very somber. Ultimately, he did it all so delicately and beautifully that it became something iconic."

For Jeff Bridges, T Bone Burnett's hard-knocks style of support was invaluable. "I kind of went in wanting my hand held and T Bone didn't do much hand holding," he admits. "He said, 'go on fly, get out of the nest and do it.' It helped a lot that the songs were so terrific and created their own little Bad Blake country music world. You have that feeling you've heard them all before."

The character came to life through music, but also through his half-sly, half-terrified interplay with Jean Craddock, the journalist played by Maggie Gyllenhaal. "Bad and Jean are true star-crossed lovers," Jeff Bridges says. "It's that kind of boom, love at first sight with them. That's how it was when I met my wife so I kind of know how that goes. Jean's a great character and working with Maggie just transcended all my expectations."

But love is not necessarily enough for Bad to change his hard-living ways and his alcoholic hazes eventually bring their simmering romance to a boiling crisis point. "Playing drunk is full of traps," notes Cooper. "Most actors always over play it, but Jeff underplayed every single scene, every single emotion. I think everyone who sees him will think of Bad Blake in terms of someone among their family or friends in some way because it's that true a performance."

Jeff Bridges said that his approach to playing Bad's descent into addiction and bad behavior - and his struggle to get himself back -- was to keep it ordinary. "I didn't want to build up the pressure of it," he says. "I wanted to always stay as relaxed as I could and just create that empty space where whatever is going to come out, has a chance to come out."

That seemed to be exactly what happened once production began. "This was just a wonderful role," Jeff Bridges summarizes. "Between the music, the acting and getting the chance to work with so many great players, it was one of the most intense, enjoyable experiences of my life."

Maggie Gyllenhaal Brings Out Bad Blake's Crazy Heart

Bad Blake's life might have gone on just the way it always had - from one minor tour to the next, one soulful bar to the next, one hard drink to the next - if he never met Jean Craddock. But once he does, Bad is destined to try to be better than he ever has before.

Finding the right Jean was so vital to making Bad's love story feel real, that Jeff Bridges became very involved in the casting sessions, and it was Jeff Bridges who ultimately chose Maggie Gyllenhaal. Gyllenhaal has twice been nominated for a Golden Globe® - for her role as a mentally unstable employee in the Sundance Festival winner SECRETARY; and for her performance as an ex-con trying to start again in SHERRYBABY - and drew accolades as Gotham City lawyer Rachel Dawes in the blockbuster THE DARK KNIGHT. But it was the energy that emerged between her and Jeff Bridges that convinced everyone she had to be Jean. "She and Jeff had tremendous chemistry the first time they met," says producer Judy Cairo of the choice. "Maggie is ageless...she's just an old soul. And she looks so perfect with Jeff. She has an earthiness, a rootedness to her that engenders great empathy."

Maggie Gyllenhaal instantly liked Jean and also felt she knew Jean. "She seems like a real person to me," she says. "Someone who is strong in some ways and yet knows she is weak in others, and that's what I look for in the people I play - that they feel real. That appealed tremendously to me."

In playing Jean she wanted to get at all the things that make Jean who she is: her charming naiveté as a new journalist; her fierce devotion as a single mother; her terror of getting her heart stomped on again; her tendency to be tempted by the excitement and pleasures of bad boys; and, most of all, her completely unstoppable feelings for Bad Blake.

"This movie can only work if you feel like Jean and Bad are completely crazy in love with each other," she says, "and despite the fact that he's much older and they might seem like improbable lovers, they're drawn to each other like magnets. You have to see that Jean is fighting through all of that to make decisions that are rational and reasonable . . . and she's having a really hard time with it."

Maggie Gyllenhaal also had to dig into what draws a woman to a man like Bad Blake in spite of all the brightly flashing danger signs. Although the actress herself is a big country music fan - drawn mostly to what she calls "old, folksy country" - she knew it was more than just Bad's talent and beautiful songs that would move Jean to take so many risks.

"I think Jean accepts a lot of these things in Bad because she herself is kind of drunk on love for him," she explains. "I also think there's a part of her that loves how it feels to be bad. But, she's a really emotional person and there are parts of Bad that are so wonderful, the way he cares for her son Buddy which really moves her, the way he's so loving with her, even when he's drunk. She just doesn't want to acknowledge that there's this gaping hole that will ultimately make it impossible for them to be together."

The fact that Maggie Gyllenhaal is a fairly new mother herself lent her further insight into the push-and-pull her character experiences between what's in her heart and what she knows she needs to do for her son.

"This is the first film Maggie's done since she had her baby," points out Judy Cairo. "So I think playing a character that has a young child who might be in jeopardy really hit home for her. It's something she called upon during those emotional scenes."

"I have played mothers before I was one," notes Maggie Gyllenhaal, "but I do think it's incredibly difficult to act like you're a mother if you're not. There are so many things I understand better now. For example, there's a little scene where I put Buddy to bed, and when I did that I was thinking how if my daughter were going to sleep in a strange bed in a place she didn't know after a plane ride, she would be having a hard time with it. That might not have occurred to me before."

Maggie Gyllenhaal's toughest scenes came at the climax of the film when Jean is forced into making a choice between Buddy and Bad. Even she was taken aback at her emotions. "When we shot the scene where Jean leaves Bad's house I was so much sadder and more upset than I knew I would be," she explains. "And when he comes back to her, I thought I would feel stronger in that scene than I did. I thought I would feel calm and resolved but instead, I knew there was that feeling in Jean of 'I wish he would touch me, I wish he'd push me over the edge here.' But of course he doesn't, he couldn't, and that was really hard."

Those scenes shattered every heart on the set, notes Scott Cooper. "Maggie is so raw and true that I couldn't have been any happier with how she played Jean," he says. "Maggie, much like Jeff, elevates the story with so much texture, flavor and emotion."

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