Jeff Bridges is up for Best Supporting Actor at this year’s Oscars for his performance in the powerful neo-Western Hell or High Water, his seventh career Academy Award nomination (he won in 2010 for his performance as a crusty country singer in Crazy Heart). Despite all his awards and nominations, Bridges is a down-to-earth guy who is up for just about anything, including appearing in comic book movies like 2008’s Iron Man.
The difficulties of making Iron Man have been well-documented, but clearly the experience did not sour Bridges on the idea of diving back into the universe of comic book superheroes and supervillains. On the contrary, Bridges seems eager to once again visit playing a bad guy (or maybe even a good guy) in a fantasy world ripped from the pages of comic books.
The newly-nominated Bridges participated in this year’s edition of the THR‘s Actor’s Roundtable and said he would indeed be open to acting in more comic book movies in the future (via Heroic Hollywood). Bridges explained how his approach to acting makes him right for roles that require him to disappear inside a comic book character:
“You know, early on in my career, I really stood out to try and not develop a strong persona and mix up so the audience would have an easier time projecting whatever character I was playing.”
Bridges then talked about his experience playing Obidiah Stane in Iron Man and specifically about the challenges of working without a script:
‘Jon [Favreau, Iron Man’s director] dealt with it so well. It freaked me out. I was very anxious. I like to be prepared. I like to know my lines, man, that’s my school. Very prepared. That was very irritating, and then I just made this adjustment. It happens in movies a lot where something’s rubbing against your fur and it’s not feeling right, but it’s just the way it is. You can spend a lot of energy bitching about that or you can figure out how you’re going to do it, how you’re going to play this hand you’ve been dealt. What you can control is how you perceive things and your thinking about it. So I said, ‘Oh, what we’re doing here, we’re making a $200 million student film. We’re all just f—–’ around! We’re playin’. Oh, great!’ That took all the pressure off. ‘Oh, just jam, man, just play.’ And it turned out great!’
Distinguished, awards-caliber actors appearing in comic book movies is of course nothing new. Marlon Brando paved the way for big-time stars taking small roles in superhero movies when he played Jor-El in the 1978 version of Superman (and Brando was paid handsomely for his small appearance). In recent years, distinguished older thespians like Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Robert Redford and Martin Sheen have tried their hand at comic book supporting roles with varying degrees of success.
Some top-drawer actors of course have had bad experiences in comic book movies, and lost their desire to ever be associated with those kinds of roles again. Sean Connery famously retired from acting altogether after his experience working on the Alan Moore graphic novel adaptation, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Bridges had his own experience being in a flop based on a comic book when R.I.P.D. tanked, but clearly that didn’t affect his enthusiasm for comic book material in general.
It’s heartening to hear Bridges’ positive remarks about comic book material and his willingness to dive into those roles. Comic book movies may largely be about special effects and action, but as we’ve learned, they don’t work that well if they lack a human element. Actors the caliber of Bridges bring that touch of humanity to material that might otherwise seem a bit distant from real human experience (of course directing and writing are key to that as well). Bridges clearly likes working in action movies generally, as he will be appearing in Kingsman: The Golden Circle (the sequel to a comic book movie), which is set to open October 6th, 2017.