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INT: LaBoeuf/Bridges

03.26.2007

I’ve been a huge fan of Jeff Bridges since I was a kid. This is partly due to the classic film THE LAST PICTURE SHOW alongside an all-star cast. What I’ve always respected about him was his honest approach to film without really finding superstardom. His work in such films as FEARLESS, STARMAN and THE FISHER KING have all been terrific, Oscar worthy performances (Nominated for 2 but 0 wins). But Mr. Bridges has become more than just a really great actor since his work in THE BIG LEBOWSKI, a cult classic that leaves you wanting to hang out with “The Dude”. Now, he takes ‘the dude’ to a new level by adding a touch of that iconic character to a penguin named “Big Z” in the upcoming SURF'S UP. A Sony Pictures animated feature with surfing (not singing, or marching) penguins.

As for his co-star, Shia LaBeouf… if you haven’t heard the name, you will soon. He will soon be seen in TRANSFORMERS and DISTURBIA. Possibly even INDIANA JONES 4, a rumor he denied at this function. He also appeared in such films as HOLES and with Keanu Reeves in CONSTANTINE. Here, he takes on the role of Cody Maverick, a penguin who loves to surf and finds his way into a surfing contest with a bunch of other penguins… and a chicken (voiced by Jon Heder). Yes, I did say chicken.

Both Jeff and Shia took some time to talk with us courtesy of an all out Luau that Sony Pictures set up in support of the film. It was an interesting time and it seemed that Mr. Bridges definitely has a little ‘dude’ in him. He was bald and wearing a Fedora (all about the Iron Man). He was laid back and seemed to be enjoying the night. He also talked a little about his upcoming IRON MAN and one of his acting heroes by the name of Robert Ryan. Shia, also chimed in with hero talk and also about some upcoming features, including the much anticipated TRANSFORMERS. Mr. LaBeouf has a whole lotta excitement about his career and he also talked to a few of us afterwards, further denying the rumor that is INDIANA JONES. So read on about surfing penguins that don’t sing and dance and what not to anticipate in the coming weeks.

Jeff Bridges / Shia LaBoeuf

Was that something for “Iron Man” [regarding Jeff’s shaved head]?

JB:  Yes.

So they tell us that you came in first with a different pitched voice and they’re like “no, no, no… we want your voice”.  Were you kind of surprised that they wanted ‘Jeff Bridges’?

JB:  [Speaking in a high pitch voice] Actually, this is my real voice. [Laughing]  No, I don’t know, I never heard that story.  I don’t know.  Different pitched voice?  I went in thinking it would just be normal.  I didn’t know that.  I just thought, play it as real.  You know, one of the things that was appealing about the whole project was this documentary quality, the “Spinal Tap” kind of take on it all.  Playing it pretty serious you know and find the humor in that.

For you Shia, how did you get involved?

Shia LaBeouf:  Um, I started hearing some of the cast news that they were throwing around, Jeff was always first choice and I’ve always wanted to work with him and so that was a huge appeal.  And then you meet Chris and Ash and they start lettin’ you loose and realize how much free, flow thought you can put into it and it’s always fun to have that much control, you know.  Plus it was a new concept.  You know, it was this hybrid version of animation that had never been done before, it’s good to be a part of new things and it’s stretching the art form a bit so you wanna be part of those type of things.  

How free were you to just go off of the script…?

JB:  Oh, yeah they always encouraged that.  You’d have a script that kind of gave you the bones of the scene but they were always calling on you to use your imagination and bring whatever you had to do.  That’s always the most fun… Like on a regular movie when you’re called upon… you’re going to have to rise to the occasion.  Sometimes, they don’t have any scenes and you’re really going to have to do it…

SL:  F*ck up.

JB:  Yeah. 

Shia, in the acting world, who was your ‘Big Z’?

SL:  Dustin Hoffman.  Then I found Gary Oldman.  There’s a lot of them.

What about you Jeff?

JB:  My ‘Big Z’… [after a moment] Robert Ryan.  I got to work with him.  You know who Robert Ryan is?

SL:  No.

JB:  He was really an interesting actor, he always kind of stood alone for me, didn’t really seem like an actor.  I think he got into acting quite late, like maybe in his late thirties or forties.

SL:  In westerns?

JB:  He did some westerns.  I did “The Iceman Cometh” with him.  I had most of my scenes were with him…

What did you admire about him, especially?

JB:  Well, I remember one time we were at a table and we were sitting there, getting ready for one of our long scenes and he had his hands like this on the table and they guy said, “we’re ready now Bob” and [he moved his] hands and I saw these two big pools of sweat.  And I said, “Bob, you’re frightened after all these years…?” and he said, “I’d really be scared if I wasn’t scared.”  [Laughing]

That’s cool.

JB:  You know that fear thing is something that is always with you and you’re gonna have to befriend that, that’s your buddy.  So that calmed me down quite a bit.

That’s really cool that you could work together in a booth too, that’s very unusual.

JB: “Billy Budd” was another great movie. You remember that movie? Terrance Stamp. Check that out.

Were you surprised you were able to overlap? I know with voice-overs usually you are told you can’t talk when someone else is talking.

JB: Oh no.

SB: They encouraged it. That’s part of that different style. The cadence is different in this animation as opposed to something like – any other animation you’ve ever seen.

Did either of you get a little worried when you heard about “Happy Feet” – the penguin movie coming around?

SL: This is was 4 years of fruition to get here. You’re worried but then you see how successful it is. It’s uplifting. You go oh, ok. It was happenstance that all these movies of conversion happened all at once. It wasn’t like we were copycatting. It’s impossible in animation because it takes so long to make these things and bring them to where they are. I don’t know if there’s fear.

JB: Not exactly fear, but you’re like “awe” because there is an element of horse races, making the movies and you want your horse to do as well as it can. And as Shia was saying, maybe it’s good news for us, maybe it’s bad news, I don’t know.  You know you’re rooting for your guy.

Very funny line that he had, “I don’t sing and dance.”

SL: We added that after.

It’s like you have an established superstar going for you already with the penguin.

SL: Sort of, yeah.

JB: Oh that’s good, yeah. 

Shia, you’ve been staying really busy for the last few years. What makes you choose one project over another?  You’re not a struggling actor.

SL: Thank God.

You can pick what you want. What makes you pick “Transformers” or… ?

SL: They’re things that turn my clock. And excite me and make you want to show up.  It’s a lot of work to make these movies. It’s not just show up and put some pretty make up on, let’s have good time always. Sometimes it’s a struggle. Movies like “Transformers” and “Iron Man” are not easy movies to make, they’re really difficult.

How did Indiana Jones come up?

SL: That’s just a rumor. I know when I have a job I sign contracts and I talk to directors, and I haven’t had any of that happen. Until that happens, I’m out of work. I’m looking into a whole bunch of different things. If that happens, of course, I’m on board. It’s a dream job. But it’s a rumor right now and a dream.

Shia, you were about Jeff’s age when he got started in acting. I wonder if you got any advice or if he gave any advice during filming about becoming a young actor and what you went through.

SL: I think I was too nervous to ever ask. It’s a tough thing to be like, “Hey we’re equals. Why don’t you tell me how you did it?” It just doesn’t feel that way - ever. To ask to for advice in a situation, I don’t feel like I’m going through the same thing. We didn’t have those talks. We talked about his ukulele. We talked about Montana. And we talked about penguins. We come up with little things to say about …

JB: Music.

SL: We talked about a lot about music.

JB: I related to Shia just the way he approached the work.  It’s kind of very much the way my father taught us how to approached it. He works with a lot of joy, has a lot of fun. And that’s kind of contagious as it gets back and forth and created that kind of cool friction to make the fire. And that’s how I like to work.  It’s interesting that you work with so many approaches to it. With actor who don’t go that way at all. Who want to get called by their characters’ name, Shia reminded me of how I liked to do it.

Jeff, so you’re not going to do a picture book for this movie? You’re not going to take any photos in the booth?

JB: I’ve kind of phased out of that a little bit. I’m doing something on “Iron Man”, maybe I’ll consider that.

Do you consider your character as kind of like “the Dude” of penguins?

JB: Yeah, you could say that possibly. They both surf. They’re kind of laid back guys.  Penguins are into clams. The Dude does weed.

What attracted you to “Iron Man”?

JB: It’s the group was a big draw. The fact that there is Robert Downey, Jr., Gwenyth Paltrow, Terrence Howard, and our leader is John Favreau. I’m big fan of “Swingers” which he wrote, and it’s always great to have a director who is a writer so in the tough spots he can get you out.  The story of “Iron Man” is interesting; it’s not your typical superhero where he’s got some kind of power necessarily. John wants to ground it in reality as much as possible.  It’s about dealing with weapons manufacturers and the politics of the world and so forth. It’s kind of interesting so I got hooked. I do my best not to engage in a movie, as Shia said it’s hard to do and once you commit to it, all these other doors close. You can’t do all these other things. You don’t even know what these other things are yet – they could be great. It’s an interesting group of people to work with, and that’s a big draw. 

What do you play in it?

JB: I play Robert Downey, Jr.’s mentor.

What’s the character’s name?

JB: Obadiah Stane

.

And what is going to surprise us on “Transformers”?

SL: I’ll just tell you this … we went to get our MPAA rating. And it’s a movie for the masses. They show the movie and we get a rated “R” rating because of intensity, not because of curse words or nudity but because of sheer intensity you know, its aneurism inducing.   And [they] fought the good fight and were back at a PG-13 but just the fact that they put us there, it’s so intense man and there are not a lot of breathers, it’s just ‘wwoooshhh’ and you’ve never seen any animation like this.  ILM, the people that talk to ILM say that this is the most intense graphics that they have ever done in the history of their company and ILM have done some pretty magical, wild things.  I mean, just Megatron’s arm has fifteen-thousand moving pieces that all converge like a rubik’s cube.  It’s Michael Bay with these chase scenes, you know, just the chase scenes alone are insane.  Then you have two forty foot tall machines on the 405 Freeway boxing.  Its nuts… The biggest surprises will be visual because it’s never been done like that and it’ll be fun to see what happens.

Lorenzo [di Bonaventura] said they’re gonna start moving forward with “Constantine 2”, have you heard that yet?

SL:  Are they?

That’s what Lorenzo said.

SL:  Wow.  Did he?  Really?

Yeah.

SL:  Wow, I didn’t think Keanu [Reeves] would wanna jump back on but…

Yeah, he said he wanted to.

SL:  Keanu went through a lot of shit on that movie.  I would never… Wow, I mean, yeah, sure I’m game if they do it.  But I haven’t heard anything so maybe not.

You may be also very busy with something else… [Regarding “Indiana Jones Part 4”]

SL:  Or not.

Well, if it did happen, when would we hear something?  The next two weeks?

SL:  You mean, if what would happen?

The one with the hat and the whip…

SL:  Look, when I hear something I’ll tell everybody.  I can’t keep secrets very well.  I mean, literally it’s an internet rumor that’s turned into this insane thing.  It’s fun to watch everyone talk about it but again, I don’t have a part or a deal or anything set so… sure, I’ll tell you when I hear.

Let me know what you think. Send questions and comments to [email protected].

Source: JoBlo.com

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