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Author Topic: THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT: Acting 2: Bridges's Performance  (Read 11622 times)
Matt
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« on: June 27, 2004, 10:51:45 AM »

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It was Jeff Bridges, not Clint, who gave Cimino his biggest scare. The night before they were to begin shooting, the actor knocked on the director's door around midnight, looking distraught. As Cimino recalls it, the dialogue went something like this:

"I've got to talk to you," said Bridges.

"Sure, come in."

"I can't do it."

"What?"

"I can't do it."

"You can't do what?"

"I can't play this character."

"What do you mean, Jeff?"

"He's too good. He's too good. I'm afraid I can't be as good as he is, and I'm really worried."

"Well, I'm not worried."

"What do you mean, you're not worried? You've never even made a movie before, how can you not be worried?"

"Well, I'm not worried because I have the best actor in the world to play the role, and if I didn't have you, I don't know who would play it, because I didn't have a second choice."

"He said, 'Really,'" as Cimino remembers, "and his whole face changed, and he said, 'OK,' and he walked out the door. I closed the door, I went into the bathroom and promptly threw up."

Bridges's memory of this scene is slightly different. He would remember Cimino saying, "You are that guy. There's nobody else who's going to be that character, so whatever you do is appropriate. You don't have to worry about trying to emulate somebody else, because you're it, you're the prototype." That, said Bridges, "was very liberating."
(Clint Eastwood: A Biography, by Richard Schickel, p. 308-309)

Jeff Bridges was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his performance as Lightfoot. It was the first nomination for any actor in an Eastwood film. What do you think the Academy saw in Bridges's performance that garnered the nomination? Do you feel this is one of the best performances in an Eastwood film? List specific scenes that you feel were his best. Was there anything you disliked about his performance?
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misty71
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« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2004, 05:46:43 PM »

I think bridges was perfect for this film :)

awesome acting, very convincing and natural, I like his high-pitched laugh, its funny.

I though he was awesome in the final scene and also in all the scenes interacting with geroge kennedy
hilarious

I saw him recently in k-pax (it took me a while to see this one because of the ridiculous name and awful cover) and I have to admit, I liked the movie a lot

bridges is definately a great actor
I guess the apple doesnt fall far from the tree :)
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KC
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« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2004, 06:25:49 PM »

For some current background information on Bridges (Thunderbolt and Lightfoot is mentioned only in passing), check out this interview in today's New York Times. It should be available for free on the Times site for a week.

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/06/28/movies/28BRID.html
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Chessie
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« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2004, 11:06:33 AM »

I liked Bridges. I thougth he played the part really well.  He was really funny.   My favorite part was when he got dressed up in drag, that had to be one of the best moments ever, he was just so pretty  ;D
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Christopher
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« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2004, 02:36:59 PM »

That link is taking me to a page to register, but it doesn't surprise me that Thunderbolt and Lightfoot would only be mentioned in passing. I've never understood that. I've seen Bridges do interviews and this movie almost never even comes up! ??? It seems to be very underrated and underappreciated.

As far as Bridges performance, he just about steals the whole film. His work is fantastic throughout. I think he should have won the Oscar that year.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2004, 02:47:21 PM by Christopher » Logged
KC
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« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2004, 08:54:23 PM »

Chris, you do have to register to read anything on the Times website, but registration is free and relatively painless. You can always fib to them, too. ;)

Here's the next to last paragraph, which mentions Thunderbolt and Lightfoot.

Quote
He has learned how to pick and choose his collaborators. "I've had great luck with first-time directors," said Mr. Bridges, who has bet on rookies like Robert Benton ("Bad Company"), Michael Cimino ("Thunderbolt and Lightfoot"), Steve Kloves ("The Fabulous Baker Boys") and Rod Lurie ("The Contender") over the years. "There's a certain power to naïveté. You don't know what can be done and can't be done. You just go for it. If a first-time guy is open to listening to all these experts he's going to surround himself with, you can come up with some really great, fresh stuff."

« Last Edit: June 29, 2004, 08:56:45 PM by KC » Logged
mgk
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« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2004, 01:36:57 PM »

There are just so many great things to say about Jeff Bridges' performance as Lightfoot in this film.  The most beautiful part about it for me was the fact that he absolutely never looked like he was acting.....it just seemed so natural.  Maybe Cimino was right and Bridges was the prototype for this character and it just came naturally.  Now, if it didn't just come naturally....then there is even more to say about that performance.  To see Lightfoot thoroughly enjoy every word that came out of Thunderbolt's mouth and hearing him with that high-pitched laugh were just simply enjoyable.  Then, to see him so completely different after Red beat him so thoroughly is such a drastic change and he pulls it off so well and ended up eliciting such a remarkable performance from Eastwood in that final scene.

Bridges just made Lightfoot such a likeable character.  I think the audience could feel that he was a friend as quickly as Thunderbolt did.  I mean......what's not to like?

He certainly deserved the Oscar nomination and, as far as I know, Bridges has never had a performance as good as this one.
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« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2004, 09:13:32 AM »

I feel Bridges had the liberty to improvise alot and just do what comes natural in this film, which makes it all the more realistic and his character more likable. He really brights up this film. In some ways, he steals the show from Eastwood, since Clint's so laid back and pretty much observes as Bridges does his thing throughout the movie. Whether Cimino encouraged this freedom, I don't know, but it worked. Also made the ending minutes all the more impactful as he never lost his spirit and charisma until his last breath, with the film ending (appropriately) within a minute or two afterwards, closing the curtain on a unique story & friendship..
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allycat
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« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2004, 03:10:47 PM »

I agree with mgk. I loved Jeff’s performance in this film. His acting was so natural, it’s hard to believe that he was worried he wouldn’t be able to do the character justice. I think his rapport with Clint in this film is great, and you really find it hard not to like his character!

Lightfoot as a character is very confident. He picks up women easily. He manages to get a girl to get in his car and stay with him just by acting cute. “Don’t you like my face?” A phrase that sums up Lightfoot’s cheekiness but also sense of loyalty is one he uses twice, “In for a penny, in for a pound.”He first uses it in the following exchange with Thunderbolt:

Quote
Thunderbolt: Better off getting’ as far away from me as you can, boy.
Lightfoot: In for a penny, in for a pound.
Thunderbolt: Lonely country, kid.

He has his little quirks and phrases. Another one he uses is ‘beggars can’t be choosy.’ I think these phrases emphasise his positive but also rather philosophical outlook on life. At no point in the film did I feel his character was shallow or superficial. He's just so passionate, spontaneous, he almost gets Thunderbolt out of a rut, 'wakes him up' as it were...

Scenes that were his best:

The end scene. And the beginning scene! Didn’t dislike anything. Hard to pick just one though. I don't want my posts to overlap so I'll post more about Lightfoot's death in the relevant thread.

I haven't seen Jeff in many films besides ones like Starman and Tron, so I can't really compare his performance here to his others, but this is easily his best performance out of everything I've seen of his so far.
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Matt
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« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2004, 06:04:17 PM »

We wrote to Jeff Bridges when we were preparing this film discussion, and asked if he had anything he'd like our members to know about working on this film. We just received the response. Here it is:

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Hi Matt,

Here's a quote for the discussion on Thunderbolt and Lightfoot.  I hope it's not too late.

Working on Thunderbolt and Lightfoot is a real highpoint in my career, for many reasons.  Here they are in no specific order:

First of all, we all had a great time working on that movie.  It was a terrific cast and crew.  The location was fantastic - Montana.  I fell in love with the state and ended up doing two more movies up there (Heaven's Gate and Rancho Deluxe).  I met my wife there and now live there part of the year.

Working with Mike Cimino was a great experience.  He not only directed the movie but wrote it as well.  Clint gave Mike a big break with T & L.  This was Mike's first movie that he directed.

I really enjoyed working with Clint.  He set the tone and it was a real happy one.  He's got a great sense of humor and works with a lot of the same cast and crew members so often that it had a family quality. 

This movie remains one of my favorites - I'll always remember the great times we had.

All the best,
Jeff
« Last Edit: March 13, 2005, 09:48:06 AM by Matt » Logged
Christopher
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« Reply #10 on: July 20, 2004, 06:21:29 PM »

Hey, that is cool!
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allycat
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« Reply #11 on: July 21, 2004, 02:40:48 PM »

Matt, this is so fantastic! I am so over the moon that Jeff took the time to write to us! :D

I think you can tell in the film that Jeff is enjoying himself. And he quite rightly should regard it as a high point in his career. It's a great performance and one he should be proud of (and at such a young age, too). Jeff's performance here makes me want to go and see all the other films he's done which I haven't seen yet.

I'm not surprised that the location was inspirational, too. It makes me want to travel to Montana. This year, I'm doing NY and Boston, so maybe next time, eh ;)

It's interesting to see Jeff's comment about the 'family quality' that Clint creates on set. Not the first time that I've heard that from people with whom Clint's worked, so it's good to hear. Clint has quite the reputation in that respect!

It's clear that working on Thunderbolt and Lightfoot had a real impact on Jeff and he has fond memories of the experience. Really nice to get his feedback and have such a great person participating in the discussion. Now all we need are Clint's comments...? ;D
« Last Edit: July 21, 2004, 02:42:22 PM by allycat » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2004, 03:18:28 PM »

Hey I just noticed the Bridges response myself. For some reason overlooked the thread today. Wow, that's right-on.
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« Reply #13 on: July 22, 2004, 10:21:38 PM »

That's really cool.    ;D
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« Reply #14 on: July 24, 2004, 02:50:19 PM »

i wonder if clint took some of bridges buddy style into the which way movies - because i get the same feeling in those movies as in thunderbolt and lightfoot

as for bridges he was great - his cheekiness is a great foyle to red
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« Reply #15 on: July 26, 2004, 08:24:42 PM »

i wonder if clint took some of bridges buddy style into the which way movies - because i get the same feeling in those movies as in thunderbolt and lightfoot

Great observation vik.

WKC.
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« Reply #16 on: August 19, 2004, 07:21:36 AM »

I would like to thank Mr Jeff Bridges. Jeff has bought truth and unique character to every movie he has been in , and made mediocre movies acceptable from Stay Hungry , to Tron , King Kong and Blown Away  , thanks Jeff . Jeff has traversed several genres and still kept his dignity , well done.
.

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mgk
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« Reply #17 on: January 30, 2005, 06:02:04 PM »

Thanks to everyone for participating in this discussion. This topic is now closed, please post any additional thoughts in the General Discussion forum.
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« Reply #18 on: September 03, 2011, 05:54:56 AM »

This topic has been temporarily unlocked.  Feel free to post any additional thoughts or discussion here.
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The Schofield Kid
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« Reply #19 on: September 03, 2011, 06:31:34 PM »

as for bridges he was great - his cheekiness is a great foyle to red

But it proved to be his downfall. Where his cheekyness and likeability didn't rub the others the wrong way, Red loathed him from the beginning.

Bridges is great in this film, the cheeky grin, never left his face until the last few moments. Someone already mentioned that it looked like he wasn't acting and it just seemed so natural and that's true of a lot of Bridges performances over the years.
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