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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

Interview with Jeff Bridges

Aired December 28, 2011 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Tonight, true Hollywood royal, the dude himself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: You are the dude. I mean, to millions of people around the world, Jeff Bridges, you will always be the dude. I can't pretend anything else.

JEFF BRIDGES, ACTOR: Isn't it a good one?

MORGAN: Just one of the best movies

BRIDGES: So, good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Jeff Bridges, actor's actor, Oscar winner, starred in some of the biggest movies for the past 40 years, "The Last Picture Show, "The Fabulous Baker Boys," "Tron," "The Big Lebowski," "Crazy Heart," "True Grit," and many more.

Tonight, Jeff Bridges, his life, his work and his latest passion, that's his music. The great Jeff Bridges for the hour -- the dude.

This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

(MUSIC)

MORGAN: Good evening.

Is it possible to have a 40-year career in Hollywood, a makeover, 60 movies and still have a reputation as Mr. Nice Guy?

Well, apparently it is if you're Jeff Bridges. And he joins me now for me to test his theory.

Everybody tells me, in the business and out, you're the nicest guy in show business.

How do you plead? It's a standing charge.

JEFF BRIDGES, ACTOR: I'm going -- I'm going for guilty with that one.

(LAUGHTER) MORGAN: Have you always been easy to work with?

Because the running theme of all your co-workers has always been you're just the nicest guy to work with?

BRIDGES: Yes, I think I have, you know. You know, I take my lead from my old man, Lloyd, Lloyd Bridges, you know, my dad --

MORGAN: Yes. Right.

BRIDGES: -- who loved show biz so much and, yes, I got to work with him as a kid on "Sea Hunt." You know, whenever there was a -- a role for the little kid, he'd say, come on, get out of school and come and play with dad, you know, that kind of thing.

But as an adult, I got to work with him twice on "Tucker" and a movie called "Blown Away." And it was a little different experience. You know, as an adult, I saw, when he came on the set, how much fun he was having and how that fun was kind of contagious, you know?

And when you're having fun, you kind of relax and your best work kind of bubbles out.

MORGAN: And your mother, actually, came up with a similar -- a similar sort of entreaty to you, to have fun in your life --

BRIDGES: Oh, that was -- that was the tip that she would always give me. And my wife does it now, you know, whenever I go off to a job. My -- my mom used to say and my wife says now. She'd say, remember, have fun and don't take it too seriously, you know, and that --

(LAUGHTER)

BRIDGES: -- that's really -- that -- that's a good --

MORGAN: And have you --

BRIDGES: -- a good tip.

MORGAN: -- have you learned that or have you -- because I noticed it's an interesting career path you've taken. You're taking this year off to do music. But you also made about 10 movies before you were really convinced you wanted to do this at all.

BRIDGES: Oh, absolutely.

MORGAN: The tear in your life has always been between the music and the -- and the movies.

BRIDGES: Yes, well, you know, like most kids, I didn't want to do what my folks wanted me to do. You know, I had my own ideas. And, you know?

MORGAN: They were both movie stars. BRIDGES: Well, no. My mom wasn't a movie star. They -- they met at -- in UCLA, you know, in the drama department. And my mom is probably the best actor of the whole bunch. But they -- yes, they were so, you know, encouraging about the, you know, about showbiz and my dad loved it so much.

And I, you know, I dug it, you know, pretty much.

But I -- I -- I had this music thing going, because I just -- I really loved and I had those -- those dreams. But then the movie thing took off. And it was like I, you know, a path of least resistance kind of thing. And I -- like I said, I enjoyed it.

And so at a certain part of my -- I can tell you kind of what -- the moment. You want me to tell you the --

MORGAN: Yes.

BRIDGES: -- you know, this is kind of an in-depth interview --

MORGAN: Oh, yes.

BRIDGES: -- I can go into those kind of things, right?

I was making a movie called "Last American Hero." This was maybe -- well, maybe my --

MORGAN: I remember it.

BRIDGES: Yes -- the 14th or 15th movie. And it was about playing a stock car driver.

And normally after a film, I had this feeling of -- oh, I never want to make another movie again. You know, it uses a funny kind of muscle, you know, this pretending business. And I said I don't want to pretend anymore. I just want to, you know, be me, you know, that kind of thing.

So, I was going through that period right after that film. And about a week after that film was completed, I got a call from my agent, very excited. And he said, oh, I've got great news. John Frankenheimer wants you in "The Iceman Cometh" with Robert Ryan, Fredric March and Lee Marvin.

And I said, oh, that's -- that's nice. I'm going to pass. He said, what do you mean? I said, I'm -- I'm bushed, man. You know, I'm going to pass. He said, you're kidding me? I said, no. He hung up.

And about five minutes later, Lamont Johnson, the director from "Last" -- "Last American Hero" called me up. And he has this very low voice. And he said --- I heard you turned this "Iceman Cometh" down.

I said yes, I'm -- I'm bushed, Lamont.

And he says, you're bushed? You are an ass. (LAUGHTER)

BRIDGES: And he hung up on me. He hung up on me. And I said, oh, let me -- you know, I'm -- I'm one to do experiments on myself from time to time. And I thought, well, I -- I'm wondering what -- what my career path will be here.

And, no, I don't -- I don't really particularly want to do this. Maybe I will do it and this will put the final nail in the coffin of my acting career.

(LAUGHTER)

BRIDGES: So, experiment.

So I got on board on that film. And it was such an interesting experience. You know, most movies, if you're lucky, you get two weeks rehearsal and then you shoot for eight or 10 weeks. This was like flipped around.

It was a 10-week rehearsal with these great master actors and a wonderful director. And then we shot it in two weeks. So it was a big play. And that play is like, you know, four -- four hours long. So, it was the chance of working with these -- these old masters, you know, who --

MORGAN: And is that when you really fell in love with the craft of acting?

BRIDGES: Oh, yes. Yes. I mean, something about it. And it was interesting -- you know, the interesting thing about anxiety, like this, you know, remember, have fun and all of that.

And, you know, I -- I thought early on, gee, maybe it's this anxiety. You know, you finally -- you know, you do it for so long and it kind of goes.

But on that film, "The Iceman Cometh," I learned that that's not the case. Most of my scenes were with Robert Ryan, a wonderful actor. And we had a lot of scenes over a table like this. And he was sitting there like this. And he said, all right, we're ready to go rolling. And he put his hands down. And I'd see these big puddles of sweat.

I said, Bob, after all these years, you're still nervous?

He said, oh, yes, I'd really be scared if I wasn't scared, you know.

MORGAN: Really?

BRIDGES: And then you see, you know, Fredric March. He was like, you know, in his late '80s and, you know -- and his anxiety and his, you know, his not wanting to drop this great opportunity --

MORGAN: And so you get --

(CROSSTALK)

BRIDGES: Oh, man, big time.

MORGAN: Because people imagine that making movies --

BRIDGES: Oh --

MORGAN: -- because of the -- the pace of them, unlike, say, live theater, that there's no real nerves, because if you make a mistake you just redo it.

BRIDGES: Oh, no. But it's the whole -- I -- you know, that term, you know, dropping the ball, that's what it feels like. You remember, with "Crazy Heart," for instance, you know, what an opportunity to do this movie with --

MORGAN: Well, it was the perfect film.

BRIDGES: Oh my God.

MORGAN: You're --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: -- your own dream role.

BRIDGES: And my buddy, T Bone, you know, Burnett --

MORGAN: Yes.

BRIDGES: -- who's, you know, he's in charge of the music. How wonderful.

Yes, but I mean, are you going to be able to pull it off? Are you going to do it? You know, it's like the -- the wide receiver, you know, going off for that long ball, please let me catch this thing, you know, yes.

MORGAN: Fascinating.

BRIDGES: So, it's -- yes, it creates more anxiety, but, you know.

MORGAN: And when you played that role, obviously, music being, you know, this great passion outside of movies for you, you could see it in -- in the depiction of the character.

I mean, have you ever thought, I mean that could have been you? You know, you could have had this career and ended up like a washed out --

BRIDGES: Yes --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: -- a washed up old cowboy has been. BRIDGES: I'm glad I listened to the old man.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Yes, well, when you were wobbling about the movie, what did your dad say to you?

BRIDGES: What did he say?

Ah, you know, it -- he didn't have to say much, because these opportunities kind of kept -- you know, I -- "The Last Picture Show." You know, that happened when I was maybe 19 or 20 years old. That was a -- that was a -- you know, it got nominated for an Academy Award.

MORGAN: Well, we've got a -- we've got a clip, actually, from that.

Let's watch a little clip from "The Last Picture Show."

BRIDGES: Yes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What you so mad for?

I've never done nothing to you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What, just screwing my girl ain't nothing to you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I ain't screwing her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, you ain't.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I ain't. She's not your girl anymore (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is my girl. I don't care what you say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE). You don't even live here anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) that don't make no difference. I've always lived here. I'm getting her back. I'm telling you right now. She's going to marry me one of these days when I get a little bit more money.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, she won't marry you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure she will. Laura (ph) was meant to get married.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's going off to college soon. I doubt I'll ever get to go with her again myself once she gets off. I never saw her to go over this summer, though. She's never going to marry you. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But she is back. I thought you were telling me she won't. She never let you screw her, that's for sure.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: What do you think when you watch yourself?

BRIDGES: I'm just really, I'm thinking of Timmy Bottoms, what a wonderful actor he is. And he didn't get the recognition, I don't think, that he deserved in that movie.

But -- but movies are full of that kind of thing. You know, the stuff that goes unnoticed.

MORGAN: Are you a good critic of your own acting?

BRIDGES: I don't know -- a good critic, you mean that -- you mean --

MORGAN: Are you --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: Yes. I mean are you right, do you think?

BRIDGES: I think so. I think so. I think so, yes. I think, you know, you get kind of honed. You get better, you know, that way.

MORGAN: You got Oscar nominated six times and then finally you get -- you get the (INAUDIBLE). And it was a wonderful moment when you -- when you won the Oscar. And we'll come back to that a bit later.

But did you -- did you feel that despite all your best efforts, 60 odd movies, you were never actually going to win an Oscar?

Does it begin to eat away?

BRIDGES: No, no, no.

MORGAN: It has to, doesn't it?

BRIDGES: Oh, no, no. It's a relief. You know, when they don't call your name, you go, oh, I don't have to get up there --

MORGAN: You don't mean that.

BRIDGES: Oh, yes. It's totally true.

MORGAN: It can't be a relief to lose.

BRIDGES: Oh, it's wonderful.

MORGAN: Really?

BRIDGES: Yes. Oh, yes. Well, I think I even said it in the -- in the thing, you know, that kind of what blows my under appreciated (INAUDIBLE). You know, that was the cool place to be, you know.

(LAUGHTER)

BRIDGES: That was the -- that's the place you want to be.

MORGAN: Because it's like -- it's slightly more comfortable there.

BRIDGES: No --

MORGAN: You're not as exposed, right?

BRIDGES: No, it's -- for all kinds of reasons. You know, you -- you know, it's just -- it's just nicer, you know, to be not put on the spot, you know, of having to, you know, beat anything else or anything. It was, you know, it's -- it's really -- it's wonderful to be acknowledged by your peers, you know, the guys who do what you do, to get that -- that tip. That does, you know, that's, you know, in the -- in the nomination, that feels --

MORGAN: But are you comfortable with the fact that right now, you're about as big a movie star has America has? Does that scare you? Does it unnerve you? Do you wish you could crawl back into a slightly more --

BRIDGES: I didn't say that --

MORGAN: -- a slightly more comfortable zone?

BRIDGES: After you say that, it's kind of challenging. Yes. Only when you say it. Normally, I don't think about that kind of stuff.

MORGAN: Yes, but it's true.

BRIDGES: (INAUDIBLE).

MORGAN: Very few people have had the kind of run of success you've had. And yet, very bravely, or perhaps it's because you're feeling slightly unnerved by it, you're saying, OK, let's just part --

BRIDGES: Yes. Yes. Yes.

MORGAN: Is it partly that?

BRIDGES: What -- is it partly what?

MORGAN: Well, are you partly deliberately getting out of the movie game for years just to give it a break?

BRIDGES: Oh, oh, oh.

MORGAN: To calm things down? You must be getting every script out there, I mean --

BRIDGES: Yes. Yes. I -- I just felt maybe I wanted a little, you know, a break from it. I did a bunch, you know, back to back, you know, with the -- with "Tron" and "True Grit" came very close together. I was -- talk about that pretend mazelgetten (ph), exhausted. And I was pretty wiped that way.

MORGAN: Well, I'm just curious, before we go to a break, just about the psychology of Jeff Bridges, who, at the peak of his powers, when everybody wanted to give you the best roles out there, you walk away for a year. What should we read into this? It can't just be because you fancy a bit of music.

BRIDGES: Well, it was just a -- you know, bushed, that's the word that comes to me.

(LAUGHTER)

BRIDGES: Man, I was bushed, you know? And that's kind of always how I've played it. Just, I -- you know, I've been so fortunate. My God.

I mean, I'm a -- I'm a product of nepotism, you know. My dad, you know, the hardest thing about acting as a profession is getting the break, you know, as you know. You do a show all about that kind of tuff.

MORGAN: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

BRIDGES: And my dad, you know, he was saying, hey, come on, do this thing. You know, he would -- he -- so he got me in there. And once that kind of took off, I've never really been that ambitious, you know, or eager or any of that stuff. You know, it's funny.

MORGAN: Well, a man should have -- he should be able to reserve the right to feel bushed.

BRIDGES: Yes. There you go, man.

(LAUGHTER)

BRIDGES: Yes.

MORGAN: Now, when we come back, I want to talk to you about the woman who you said this about: "When I was young and in my '20s, I had a fear of marriage. I thought it was a giant step toward death."

And then you met a woman and you thought: now this is interesting -- and everything changed.

BRIDGES: We're taking a break or we should talk about --

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take it back. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go to bed, Frank, or this is going to get ugly.

Yes?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, come on in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You hit me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: That was a clip of you and your brother Beau in the --

BRIDGES: Oh, yes.

MORGAN: -- the immortal, the fabulous "Baker Boys."

Have you enjoyed, with your brother?

BRIDGES: Oh, God, what a dream that was. You know, Beau, music and Michelle. My God!

(LAUGHTER)

BRIDGES: A dream come true.

MORGAN: The dream -- the dream team.

BRIDGES: Oh, man, yes.

MORGAN: I read you a quote before we went to the break about how your view on marriage changed. You said, "This is interesting," when you met this woman called Susan. And then last year, you said: "I really am more in love with her now than ever." That was 34 years --

BRIDGES: Yes.

MORGAN: -- later.

BRIDGES: Yes.

MORGAN: What was it about her?

How did you know she was going to be that interesting for you?

BRIDGES: It was, you know, the corny "love at first sight" thing, you know --

MORGAN: Literally?

BRIDGES: Oh, yes.

MORGAN: Where were you?

BRIDGES: I met her on a movie set. I was in one of my favorite states, Montana. We were making a movie called "Rancho Deluxe." We were doing a scene with Sam Watterson, Harry Dean Stanton and Richard Bright. And we were soaking in a hot tub in a dude ranch up in Montana called Chico Hot Springs.

(LAUGHTER)

BRIDGES: And, you know --

MORGAN: I'm just laughing at the image of -- you're conjuring.

BRIDGES: Oh, oh, oh, yes. Well, and, you know how guys -- you know, they'll take a magazine or something they'll, you know, they'll be looking like this. They'll use that as a shield to check out the girls, you know.

So I'm doing that. And I see this girl, gorgeous girl who's watching us. I mean, she looks like she's working there or something. She's got a broken nose and two black eyes. And she's just gorgeous. I could not take my eyes off her. And she busts me every time, you know, I look at her.

And it's -- I don't know about for you, I would imagine for you, too, it's tough asking a girl out. You know, you've got to really, you know, get the courage, you know --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: -- part of the women (INAUDIBLE).

BRIDGES: Yes, don't you think?

MORGAN: Totally.

BRIDGES: So, I finally worked my courage up to ask her out.

And I said, would you like to go out tonight?

And she goes, no. It's a small town, maybe I'll see you around.

I said, really?

She goes, yes.

I said, OK. And her prophecy came true and not, you know, maybe if you -- maybe it might have been that night or the night after that, I saw her in a bar and we danced and, you know, that was it.

And we -- now, we cut 20 years later. So I'm married. We've got three kids. I'm sitting at my desk opening my mail. And I got a -- a letter from the makeup man on that show. And he says, I was going through my files and I came across a photograph that might be of interest to you. It's a shot -- it's two shots of you asking a local girl out for a date.

And I look at the thing and it's a picture of me asking my wife out for a date --

MORGAN: From that first --

BRIDGES: From that moment. And her saying -- her saying no, and there was a picture taken --

MORGAN: Of the moment of rejection?

BRIDGES: Of that moment. And, a close-up, because he thought she was a -- she was the prettiest girl in the joint, you know. And he took a picture. And this is -- I'll show it to right now.

MORGAN: You have it? Really?

BRIDGES: I -- I carry it. This is my prized possession.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: (INAUDIBLE).

BRIDGES: And here it is. You -- you want -- you'll see what -- and you -- you asked me why I fell in love or what.

MORGAN: Yes.

BRIDGES: Well, there are the pictures right there.

MORGAN: Look at that.

BRIDGES: Isn't that wild? And you can see --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: Absolutely.

BRIDGES: And that -- look it, that is the moment.

MORGAN: That's the picture.

BRIDGES: The first words that I ever spoke to my wife, asking her out, and her answer we are no.

MORGAN: That is absolutely extraordinary.

BRIDGES: And it shows how pretty she is with her two black eyes.

MORGAN: And you -- you have a face of --

BRIDGES: Oh, I just cold-cocked, just --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: This is her with the black eyes? BRIDGES: Yes, she was a black eye.

MORGAN: How did she get the black eyes?

BRIDGES: A car accident.

MORGAN: Really?

BRIDGES: You know, I thought it was her boyfriend. I was going to save her and all that. But, no.

MORGAN: How lovely.

BRIDGES: Isn't that sweet?

MORGAN: What an amazing thing.

BRIDGES: So whenever I -- whenever I think, you know, was she the right woman and all -- and there's no question, you know?

MORGAN: Why do you think you've been able to have such a happy, sustainable marriage in a business which is so littered with failure in that department?

BRIDGES: Luck, I'm sure, has a lot to do with it. My -- my parents were very -- I was going to say happily, but they went through, you know, unhappy times, too. And I think Sue and I, we've developed a practice of kind of leaning into those tough times, you know, and looking at those as this, oh, here's an opportunity for us to get a lot more intimate, to know a little bit more about each other.

And we don't shy away from it and it doesn't scare us, you know, so much.

And in a marriage, you know, it doesn't -- I was going to say I don't know how -- we've been married, what, 34 years?

MORGAN: Yes.

BRIDGES: You said I can't (INAUDIBLE) that sometimes. But it's a long time. But it doesn't take 34 years to find out that you're going to clash.

And whether you take those clashes and say, all right, that's it, that's the line, I am out of here, or you take that as an opportunity to make -- grow a little bigger to hold that and to hold that. And then you do that quite a while and you keep, you know, make that your practice --

MORGAN: Do you think too many people just -- just throw in the towel too early?

BRIDGES: I think so, yes. Yes. Because the -- the rewards become, you know, so wonderful and -- and it becomes more and more precious, you know, the deeper you do -- the more you do that, the deeper -- the deeper the intimacy becomes.

And that's the high in life, isn't it, to be intimate?

You know, we were -- that's what we want to do, all of us, I think.

MORGAN: And also, there's a great comfort, isn't there, from having that kind of relationship with somebody for so long?

If you can be that close to someone, go through the peaks and troughs.

BRIDGES: Oh, yes.

MORGAN: But when you get the great moments, it must be just 10 times better.

BRIDGES: Oh. And the -- and I find that the -- the clash is always -- it's kind of an ancient thing. It's almost -- it's a little different version of the same thing, you know, over and over.

MORGAN: We're going to have a little break and come back and talk about my personal favorite part of your life. And it's obviously "The Big Lebowski." You are obviously, to me, always going to be the dude.

The dude -- when we come back, we're talking dude.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you employed, Mr. Lebowski?

BRIDGES: Oh, wait, let me -- let me explain something to you. I am not Mr. Lebowski. You're Mr. Lebowski. I'm the dude.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: You're the dude. I mean to -- to millions of people around the world, Jeff Bridges, you will always be the dude. I can't pretend anything else.

I loved you in "Crazy Heart," loved lots of other movies. To me, every year, ritually, I watch "The Big Lebowski."

BRIDGES: Good for you. That's a great movie.

MORGAN: A bottle of wine, a few friends --

BRIDGES: Great.

MORGAN: -- and we howl with laughter.

BRIDGES: Isn't it a good one?

MORGAN: Just one of the best movies.

BRIDGES: So, good.

MORGAN: Such smart, funny comedy, right? I mean it's a --

BRIDGES: Right

MORGAN: -- all those things should go hand in hand.

BRIDGES: Those Cohen brothers. They just know how to --

(CROSSTALK)

BRIDGES: -- do it. Oh, they make it look so easy.

MORGAN: Did you know from the script how good it was going to be?

BRIDGES: Yes, I mean, you know, I read that thing and I -- you know, it made me laugh, you know, all -- all the way through it. I was kind of surprised when it first came out and it didn't do much here. You know, it had to go over, you know, on the other side of the pond and then come back years later and it became a kind of a cult hit thing, you know?

MORGAN: John Goodman came out with a great quote about your performance. He said: "It's -- it's like watching a diamond cutter. When you look at the diamond, you don't think of the work, you just notice there are no flaws."

BRIDGES: Oh, that's beautiful. How beautiful.

MORGAN: What do you make of that?

BRIDGES: Oh, that's very sweet. That's very sweet.

MORGAN: It's quite a compliment.

BRIDGES: It is. It really is. That's kind of what -- what I aspire to and the kind of work that I appreciate, you know, when you don't see it. You know, you don't see it going on, you know?

MORGAN: Are you aware of the kind of, I don't know -- admiration is not really quite a strong enough word -- that you now have amongst your peer group?

You know, I mean when we talk to them, they all now talk about you as being one of the great, great actors --

BRIDGES: Oh.

MORGAN: -- in the country right now.

BRIDGES: That's good to know.

MORGAN: Are you aware of that? Are you proud of that? BRIDGES: Yes.

MORGAN: Does it unnerve you?

BRIDGES: Yes, I think, you know, I -- especially with this award thing, you know, when those guys stood up you know that's wild. It's strong. Man, that's a strong feeling.

MORGAN: When they -- when they announced you as the winner of the best actor, what did you really feel in that -- in that moment?

BRIDGES: I felt my folks. Yes. I feel like I'm an extension of them, really.

MORGAN: What would they have made of it, do you think?

BRIDGES: Oh. They -- you know, they were there, you know, whooo, circling the room and they were just, you know, beaming and smiling and oh --

MORGAN: You could feel it?

BRIDGES: Oh, God, yes. MORGAN: Was that the greatest moment of your life?

BRIDGES: I would say the kids, you know, seeing my kids born beat that.

MORGAN: But professionally?

BRIDGES: Yes.

MORGAN: But for an actor to win best actor at the Academy Awards --

BRIDGES: Yes.

MORGAN: -- it doesn't get better than that?

BRIDGES: Oh, yes, that's true. Yes, getting that nod. That feel -- it feels great.

But, you know, there's -- then there's the -- just the, you know, the work itself and working with all these great -- the cool thing about the profession, as far as I'm concerned, is the chance to work with all these other artists, you know, and then to throw your -- throw all of your artistry together and you shake it up and you don't know what's going to happen. You've got high hopes, but every once in a while, it just transcends every -- everyone's expectations.

MORGAN: Well, it did this perfectly in "Crazy Heart."

Let's have a look at a clip from "Crazy Heart."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: I mean, it was a spectacular role.

As -- as you finished that movie, did you quietly have a feeling this could be the one?

BRIDGES: Yes, it felt so good, so many elements. But, you know, there's a lot of -- a lot of stumbling room between finishing a movie and then it coming out and -- and people seeing it. You know, we were so -- fortunate to have Fox Searchlight be our distributor, who are, you know, they're the specialists at really treating those kind of movies.

MORGAN: I want to read you some great quotes. And you'll recognize these, because you've put them on your own website.

BRIDGES: Ah-ha.

MORGAN: And I found this fantastic, because they're such a varied, weird collection of sayings and quotes. This one I love. This is a Zen saying: "After ecstasy, the laundry." I love that. Did you get a laundry moment after the Oscars?

Did you wake up the next day and your wife says put your pants on?

BRIDGES: Yes, that's right. Yes, she is.

Yes, yes, yes. That happens. That's part of the life where you can't say no. Yes.

MORGAN: How about this one: "Randolph Bourne, he who mounts a wild elephant goes where the wild elephant goes."

Have you mounted many wild elephants?

BRIDGES: Yes, I'm on one right now with you, man.

(LAUGHTER)

BRIDGES: You never know, yes.

MORGAN: Do you feel like life's about mounting wild elephants? It's about taking risks?

BRIDGES: It can be. It can be. It's -- as a sure -- risk taking is a wonderful thing. You know, you don't want to just, you know, just take it just for that sake of that. I mean I've, you know, this -- that can get you in trouble, you know, too.

MORGAN: What's been the biggest gamble, do you think, you've taken with your career?

BRIDGES: With my career? When you first said it, before you said the word career, I was thinking, I was going to say marriage. You know, I was deathly afraid of getting married.

MORGAN: Yes, why were you, because, clearly, you're very good at it?

BRIDGES: Well, I said you made a little bit of the quote there about the death thing, which drives my wife crazy when I say it, but it's kind of my thing.

My -- my theory is that if -- that if death is the -- kind of the end of the story, you know, like the last chapter in the story, that marriage is a giant step in that direction, because --

MORGAN: Towards death?

BRIDGES: Towards death, because --

MORGAN: Well, no wonder your wife doesn't --

(CROSSTALK)

BRIDGES: -- because -- because this is the woman for the rest -- now, all the other women, no, no. This is the one, you know. So the fear of marriage is really the fear of death of life -- MORGAN: Because it's -- there's a finality to it?

BRIDGES: Yes. Finding -- yes, like that. Now, but now it didn't back to the movies. Well, we -- what was the question?

What was the --

MORGAN: What was the biggest gamble professionally?

BRIDGES: Well, you know, in a funny way -- and we kind of touched on it earlier, that -- is "Crazy Heart," even though it was so almost -- it was tailor-made. You know, the director, Scoot Cooper, was, you know, he wrote it with me in mind, you know, T Bone, all these things.

MORGAN: It's about not being able to fulfill your own expectations.

BRIDGES: Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. That's the big -- that's the big thing.

MORGAN: Because as a musician yourself, you don't want to be seen as a poor performer.

BRIDGES: Yes, yes.

MORGAN: Because it wouldn't be good for you, would it?

BRIDGES: This is what I care about and please, you know, let me, you know, do it -- do this well. You know, yes.

MORGAN: We're going to have a break. I'll come back and talk to you about music, the other great passion of your life, and about your crazy music heart. Just throbs away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC)

MORGAN: That was the song, "What A Little Bit of Love Can Do" from your self-styled first album, due out on August the 16th.

MORGAN: Tell me about music.

BRIDGES: Well --

MORGAN: I mean, obviously, I know you love it. And, obviously, you're incredibly good at it. Tell me about the passion, though.

Where does it come from, the musical passion you have?

BRIDGES: Where does it come from?

Well, Beau, my big brother, you know, he's eight years older than I am, so my early memories are, you know, Chuck Berry and Little Richard and, you know, Buddy Holly and those guys. And -- and then picking up a -- I remember he had a -- a white Danelectro guitar that I really coveted and finally stole from him.

MORGAN: Now, here's the ultimate question for you, I suspect.

If I can say right, here's the deal. You're going to win a Grammy for best album for the album that's coming out, but the deal is I take away the Oscar --

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: -- would you take the deal?

BRIDGES: No.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: You can't have both.

BRIDGES: You know why?

I dig the statue -- that statue there.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Where do you keep it?

BRIDGES: It's sitting on the between our kitchen and our dining room.

MORGAN: How often do you -- do you look at it or caress it? BRIDGES: Every time I go by, you know --

MORGAN: Do you?

BRIDGES: -- I check -- I check it out a little bit.

MORGAN: Do you?

BRIDGES: Yes.

MORGAN: Do you ever --

(CROSSTALK)

BRIDGES: It's a beautiful statue.

MORGAN: Because they're heavy, aren't they?

BRIDGES: Yes. That's a beautiful thing. Yes.

MORGAN: So you wouldn't swap them?

BRIDGES: No, I don't think swapping, no. No.

MORGAN: Are you nervous about critical reaction to the album?

BRIDGES: I'm kind of hopeful, I guess. I mean I want what people to like it. Just like movies you do, you know, you do a movie, you want people to enjoy it, you know. But all the -- I -- you know, it's pretty much a done deal as far as that goes for me, because I dig the album. Bone digs it. My wife digs it. Johnny Goodwin, the guy who wrote a lot of the songs, one of my best and oldest friends, digs it. And that's about -- that's about it, you know.

MORGAN: Are you --

BRIDGES: You know --

MORGAN: -- are you proud of it?

BRIDGES: Oh, yes.

MORGAN: Is it what you hoped it would be?

BRIDGES: Oh, man. It was like the thing I told you about the movies exceeding all your expectations. That's what it did for me. I mean the -- the -- the musicians that T Bone assembled, oh my god. They are just so remarkable.

MORGAN: I want to read you another quote from your quotes list on your website, Germaine Greer: "You're only young once, but you can be immature forever."

Is there a little streak of immaturity, still, in Jeff Bridges?

Or have you properly grown up now, do you think? BRIDGES: No, I do think you ever do. I don't know. I think there's always -- well, you know, I haven't turned into light yet, you know.

MORGAN: Oh you were -- you were quite a party boy in your time, weren't you?

BRIDGES: Yes, but, no, you know, not as -- not as bad as some or good -- good, whatever you want to say. You know, I --

MORGAN: Do you miss those days, though?

BRIDGES: I just had one, you know, a few days ago.

MORGAN: You did?

BRIDGES: I held the guys up in Montana. We jammed, you know, yes. We got a little drunk. It was pretty cool.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: What does being alive mean to you?

BRIDGES: Well, it's riding the elephant, you know, taking the risk. A lot of the stuff that we've been talking about, intimacy, you know, getting high, you know.

MORGAN: Well, the one thing you are brilliant at in movies is getting drunk.

And so when we come back after this break, I want to talk to you about your skill at portraying drunks and where you got it from.

BRIDGES: All right.

MORGAN: Because there's been a lot of practice clearly.

(LAUGHTER)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATT DAMON, ACTOR: I heard the rifle and I felt the ball. You missed your shot, Cogburn.

BRIDGES: Missed my shot?

DAMON: You are more handicapped without the eye than I without the arm.

BRIDGES: I can hit a (INAUDIBLE) five 90 yards. That Chinaman is running them cheap shells on me again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Yet another Oscar nominated performance by Jeff Bridges in "True Grit." For someone who fights the acting, you are pretty good at this, aren't you?

BRIDGES: Yes.

MORGAN: The drinking.

BRIDGES: Yes?

MORGAN: Have you been a big drinker in your life?

Where -- where do you great this masterful portrayal of drunks?

BRIDGES: Well, you know, I've done -- you know, I -- I've had, you know, listen, I've -- I've been puke drunk before, you know, a few times.

MORGAN: When was the last time --

BRIDGES: That I've been puke drunk?

MORGAN: Yes.

BRIDGES: Oh, I would say 20 years ago, something like that. You know, a long time ago.

MORGAN: So you just hold it better these days?

BRIDGES: Yes. No, I don't -- you know, I -- I'm kind of, you know, I don't like getting hung over. You know, it's just a terrible thing. I made the mistake early in my career of, you know, saying, oh, I've got a drunk scene, well, I'll just get drunk. You know, that seems to be the -- the easiest way to approach that, you know.

(LAUGHTER)

BRIDGES: So I made that mistake. I remember, it was a movie I did with Sally Fields. And it was a scene to get drunk. And I -- so I made myself screwdrivers early in the morning, you know, 6:00 in the morning for my scene at 9:00. And I danced my ass off.

(LAUGHTER)

BRIDGES: It was insane. But then there was the next scene and the next scene and the morning after, you know.

So I never made that mistake ever again. I learned my lesson.

And now I simply use something they -- us actors call sense memory.

MORGAN: What's that?

BRIDGES: Well, that is you -- you remember how that was and you recall it and you pretend, you know.

MORGAN: Really?

BRIDGES: Yes.

MORGAN: Sense memory?

BRIDGES: Sense memory. Occasionally, I'll do something like -- like for Rooster, for this guy, I'll take -- you know, take a little, you know, Wild Turkey or something and go, you know -- that helps the other actors, too, you know what I mean. They say they smell that stuff coming going out. But you don't want to get drunk -- you don't want to get drunk or high.

MORGAN: I wondered what the odor was.

BRIDGES: What's that?

MORGAN: I wondered what the smell was.

(LAUGHTER)

BRIDGES: Yes, exactly.

MORGAN: Who -- who do you think are the greatest living actors right now?

BRIDGES: Oh, my --

MORGAN: If you were casting a dream team from a --

BRIDGES: God, there's some good ones. You know, Tommy Lee is awful good, Tommy Lee Jones.

MORGAN: Yes.

BRIDGES: I got to work with him. He's awful great. Meryl Streep is awful great. I haven't worked with her yet. I'd love to work with her. I got to work with Bob Duvall in "Crazy Heart."

MORGAN: Is there a great role that you haven't played that you'd love to play?

Is there something out there?

Is there a great book that you've read, a great remake you'd love to be involved with?

Is there something that stirs in your -- in your gut for a while?

BRIDGES: Generally, I'm not one of those guys who has -- has that, you know, that kind of, you know, I've got to play Lincoln or something like that. There are a couple of things that I can't even really tell you about, because I don't want to --

MORGAN: Things that -- BRIDGES: -- you know, jinx or put anything on. And I don't even know if it will -- if it will ever happen, because right along with that same kind of thing, saying, oh, yes, that would be -- that's really unique. That would be a great thing to do.

There's another side of me that's, you know, it's the Bush side. Please, can I -- do I got to do that, you know?

No, please, don't make me --

MORGAN: Oh, but you must have now enough money to just say you know what, forget this acting lark. I'm just going to go and -- I'm going to go to Montana and play the guitar.

BRIDGES: Yes.

MORGAN: Are you tempted to ever push that button?

BRIDGES: Yes, I'll be -- I'll be pushing that a little bit. That's kind of what I did this year, you know.

MORGAN: Did you like it?

Or did you miss the movies?

BRIDGES: No, I didn't miss the movies at all. No. You know, one of the cool things about fame and success is that gives you a voice to talk about some of the things that are important to you -- or -- or help kind of direct the kind of -- the world in the direction that you'd like to see it going.

So, you know, as I was saying earlier this year, I did my music, which was kind of a very satisfying thing personally. But I also got to focus attention on ending hunger here in our country.

MORGAN: Hold that thought --

BRIDGES: Sure.

MORGAN: -- because that's exactly what I want to talk to you about --

BRIDGES: Oh, good.

MORGAN: -- after this last break, the No Kid Hungry Campaign.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRIDGES: Here's the rap. One in four kids in the U.S. faces hunger. It's not always easy to see the signs, but in this land of plenty, there are kids that don't know where they will get their next meal.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MORGAN: You're a spokesman for the No Kid Hungry Campaign.

Just very quickly, tell me what it is at its essence.

BRIDGES: It's about ending childhood hunger here in America. And we're doing that by going state by state, working with governors and mayors and, you know, heads of food pantries and so forth, finding out what is the -- where's the bottleneck. Because here in America, we have enough food. We have programs that we know can end hunger. But it's the access to those programs that's really a huge problem.

MORGAN: Is President Obama doing the right amount of stuff, do you think?

BRIDGES: Well, he's the guy who really put the whole thing in context when -- in -- when he was campaigning, he -- he said we're going to end childhood hunger here in America by 2015. And that really got all of the hunger organizations to pay attention --

MORGAN: But that's not going to happen.

BRIDGES: -- when we -- well, he said the -- you know, they said our president, for the first time, you know, Obama, he lived on food stamps. He's the first president who really knows what that -- that's about.

And he said we're -- the hunger organizations said we're going to get behind this guy. And -- and this is what we have to do, Mr. President. And they started to really, you know, list these -- these things. And you -- what you just said, it's not really going to happen, you know, that's kind of what I thought. You know, 2015. And I think he kind of -- I think he kind of went off a little bit half- cocked, because I think the -- the hunger organizations were really going for more, you know, 2020.

But the fact that he said that, it set a goal. And goals are interesting. You know, it's like when Kennedy said, you know, in 10 years, we're going to put a guy on the Moon. And all of a sudden, all of the arguments about what kind of fuel and what the shape should be, you know, they all said now the context has changed. Now those arguments are -- are helping each other.

You know, we're going to figure out -- you know, I want to know why you don't think this is going to work.

And so, you know, goals are interesting that way. They're kind of inspiring, you know, so --

MORGAN: What goals do you have --

BRIDGES: So we --

MORGAN: -- what goals do you have left?

BRIDGES: To end childhood hunger in America is a big -- is a big goal of mine. That's one I -- that's maybe my -- that could -- maybe could be my only goal. I mean as we sit here right now, I really can't think of anything that I really want to do more.

MORGAN: You ticked one of the great boxes recently --

BRIDGES: What's that?

MORGAN: You kicked a great box recently in the goal department.

You became a grandfather.

BRIDGES: Oh, man. Yes.

MORGAN: One of your three daughters gave you a grandchild.

BRIDGES: Absolutely. Absolutely.

MORGAN: How does that make you feel?

BRIDGES: Oh, my gosh, great. That was wild. She had the baby on the bathroom floor, can you imagine?

MORGAN: Really?

BRIDGES: She called us up at 6:00 in the morning saying, you know, I think my water is broken. I was like, well, get to the hospital. No, I think we're just going to -- you know, we'll be with -- the (INAUDIBLE) we have. Says, no, we don't have to do that. When they go to the hospital, you know, when the water breaks, they'll -- they want to pitch you, right -- you know, Pitosin (ph) right away, because it's -- you know, the baby can get -- that -- oh look at that baby.

MORGAN: That is --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: -- the Dude.

BRIDGES: But Isabel --

MORGAN: -- the granddaughter of the Dude.

BRIDGES: Isabel -- I'm going to be called Dude-pa.

(LAUGHTER)

BRIDGES: But Isabel, you know, she was so -- in such great shape mentally. You know, she mediates, you know, twice a day, yoga and everything. And so, you know, I said, well, did it hurt, you know?

And she goes, well, it was an intense sensation, but, no, I can't say it really was painful. You know, very wild.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Your daughters, I mean, do they feel particularly blessed to have the Dude as their dad? BRIDGES: Oh, I don't know. Maybe. I think so. We -- you know, we tell each other we love each other all the time. And I think they -- they mean it. I think so. I think so. But, you know, it's a funny thing when that's all you know. You know, kind of felt that about my -- my own folks.

I just want to say one thing before I know our time is kind of running short. And I just wanted to -- to say that anybody out there who needs food, needs access to food or knows anyone who needs access to food -- but you can go to www dot strength dot org and you can find out where a site is near you.

MORGAN: Great. Well said.

It's been such a pleasure.

BRIDGES: Great hanging with you, man.

MORGAN: Thank you so much.

BRIDGES: I really enjoyed it.

MORGAN: And that's all for us tonight.

Here's "A.C. 360."