Jeff Bridges refuses to make a bucket list.
He acknowledges his age, but says he’s of two minds about what to do with the next few decades.
“There are two streams in my soul,” Bridges, 64, says. “Those streams have appeared because there is a limited time and there is a lot of s— I have to do. I have a lot of ideas I want realized. That creates a certain kind of pressure.”
He has an analogy about the rest of his life.
“I remember seeing a TV show where Walt Disney had a cartoon of Goofy on his shoulder,” Bridges says. “On one shoulder was the good Goofy with wings. On the other shoulder was the bad Goofy with horns. Now, I have that Goofy on my shoulders.
“One says, ‘You better get to work.’ The other guy says, ‘Come on, Jeff, you better relax. Do you want your whole life to be a homework assignment?’ ”
His latest project has made it through quite a few classrooms. Bridges stars in “The Giver,” based on the best-selling 1993 book about a seemingly perfect community without war or pain or suffering. A teenager (Brenton Thwaites) decides to break out and try to live a different way much to the displeasure of his mother (Katie Holmes) and elder (Meryl Streep). “The Giver” opens Friday.
Q: Isn’t it true “The Giver” started out as a project for your father, Lloyd Bridges?
A: I desperately wanted to direct my father in the film. He so loved the material and we discussed it often. Somewhere in my garage there must be an old Beta video of me directing my father in the role with my nephew playing one of the teens. I still have that tape. Maybe it should go on the DVD of the new movie.
Q: How did you find the book?
A: At the time I found the book, I wanted to make a movie with Dad that my kids could see when they were little. I remember finding this book, “The Giver,” when I was looking at a catalog of children’s books. I saw this grizzled old guy on the cover. I read it and I was knocked that this wasn’t just a kid’s book. It touched me as an adult, too.
Q: Is it bittersweet that now you took the role as the older guy?
A: I finally qualified as the grizzled guy. You won’t hear me complain. It feels wonderful.
Q: Does acting still have the same thrill for you after all of these years?
A: I embrace the fear of it, and love that I still feel that way when I get a new role. When it comes to acting, I just like to jam. It’s a musical expression, but it also works for making movies. You just jam.
Q: How do you choose roles?
A: Often when I come to a crossroads over a role, I will ask myself, “How will I feel if I let this one go?” For “The Giver,” I felt just terrible even thinking about letting it go. When I feel that level of terrible, I think, “Just go for it.”
Q: You’ve been married for over 37 years to Susan Geston. What is your secret?
A: We love each other. We look at how it keeps getting better in all areas including sex, intimacy, and emotions. What is better than having this intimacy with someone who knows you better than anyone else in the world? That’s awesome, man.
Q: What did your dad teach your about life?
A: My dad taught me all the basics of acting. He set me on his bed when I was young and said, “Make it feel like it’s happening for the first time. When my mouth stops, you talk.” That was my acting advice. The main thing I learned from my Dad was observing the joy he had acting. I worked with him twice as an adult, and when my dad came onto the set, that joyful vibe came with him. I had to stop myself in that moment he arrived and say, “This is kinda fun. This is advanced pretend.”