It all started on the third floor of the Beverly Hilton hotel, except this wasn’t an after party for LMFAO. I was attending the press day for the film Crazy Heart. I signed in at one of the rooms that offered an excellent view of Wilshire Blvd. and the Hollywood Hills. In room “217″ there was a tremendous spread, containing more food groups than you ever knew existed. You get the inkling that the movie people want you to feel good about the film, thus they make attempts to put you in a good mood by offering enough food to make a King blush or… like they say at Ihop; “Come hungry, Leave happy.” I appreciate the efforts, and love the food. However, Fox searchlight’s Crazy Heart is so good, and the cast is even more outstanding that they could have served dog food and it wouldn’t change the experience of meeting the likes of Robert Duvall, Jeff Bridges, and Maggie Gyllenhaal.Moving now into room “245″ for our joint interview session was myself and six of my writing brethren. Everyone had something to say about the latest films, except for the one quiet guy who didn’t really say anything.
We settled down at what are called “roundtables,” like kids in a classroom, when the first person to appear for the interview was Maggie Gyllenhaal. She strikes you as the kind of girl that you could carry on a conversation with for hours because you’ve already known her for years. I hadn’t…. This was the first time I had ever met her, but, there’s an approachability and down to earth sensibility that made me feel welcome. She’s established herself as one of the most unique and intelligent actresses of her time, and she’s done so without forcing herself onto the public scene. In Crazy Heart, she plays a mother that will do anything to protect the well-being of her child even if it jeopardizes being with the man she loves.
“I did find it hard, as a mother, a real mother, I think the line you’re always walking is you always have to sacrifice things for your children,” said Gyllenhaal. “You have to sacrifice things that feel really good, or that you want.”
Gyllenhaal’s character represents the one thing that can make things right for “Bad Blake” (Jeff Bridges). Living his life drunk and singing old hits in bowling alleys and ‘hole in the wall’ pubs isn’t exactly what Bad Blake imagined for himself before he hit his 60th birthday. Still, the only thing that keeps him going is his music and the hunger to get things back to “the way they were.”
“Things don’t always work out the way you want them to work out, which can be the greatest gift…,” said Bridges. “I think of the line from the song in the movie, ‘I used to be somebody, now I’m somebody else.’ You don’t always have to be who you think you are.”
Bridges’ performance will garner a lot of Oscar attention – (a fifth nomination most likely.) He pours his life out into this sometimes dark and tragic role, but he still doesn’t break away from who he is as a person.
“I don’t know if I ever left Jeff, you just bring that along with you,” Bridges added. “I don’t really consider myself one of those actors who takes his work home with him. [My wife] says, ‘You don’t think you do, but you do.’ Maybe I’m not aware of it.”
The theme of the film talks about the weary kind.
“This ain’t no place to fall behind/pick up your heart and give it one more try,” said Bad Blake.
It’s a film that gives ‘Bad’ a choice; Float forever into the sunset never to me heard from again, or fight to keep the dream alive and get back to the place where he started. It’s a story of redemption…facing weakness head on, armed with nothing but talent and ambition.
Bridges knows a thing or two about redemption:
“I’ve been redeemed, you know,” he said. “I’ve been married 33 years, and in a long marriage like that, there’s a lot of redemption going on.”
And as we all laughed, Bridges left the room. He’d be a tough act to follow for a lot of people. However, when the next person to walk in is Robert Duvall, well, he’s one of the few guys who is clearly up to the task. That being said, he doesn’t walk in like he is about to do an interview, he just sat down like he was ordering a drink at a bar and was here to talk about fishing.
Duvall plays Wayne Kramer. When ‘Bad Blake’s’ life starts to crumble, Kramer is the one to help put the pieces back one by one. What’s even more intriguing than Duvall’s performance is the endearing presence he brings to the room, and I was lucky enough to be in it. Oddly enough, the movie came up during our ten minutes, but we all seemed to enjoy talking about things other than film.
“The most important thing with the tango is the walk,” said Duvall. “It all begins and ends with it.”
Robert Duvall is something of a dance enthusiast, Latin dancing to be exact.
“…I introduced my wife to the Tango,” Duvall stated. “I was way into the tango, way before I met her…Way before her. The last five years they’ve had the World Championships in Buenos Aires, some of my friends have won it. This year, it makes sense, a Japanese guy won it.”
After our interviews, I finished off some of the leftovers left back in the infamous “217″, and then headed for the elevators. Waiting to go down with me was none other than Robert Duvall, again, still wearing his Texas Longhorns jacket. He couldn’t stop raving about Colt McCoy, The University of Texas starting quarterback.
I asked him who he had in the Alabama and Florida SEC Championship game, “now that Florida might lose their best defensive player.”
“They lost who?” Duvall replied.
I told him the news again in stride.
“Fu**!!” Duvall said, looking irritated. “Well…that Tebow is pretty tough. Florida is tough. Should be a hell of a game.”