Editor’s note: This interview was done before the SAG-AFTRA strike.
Emmy winner Beau Bridges’ career took off early. Both he and his brother Jeff Bridges have appeared with their fathers on “Sea Hunt” and “The Lloyd Bridges Show” and Beau’s career has since been featured on “Norma Rae”, “The Hotel New Hampshire”, “The Fabulous Baker”. It includes movies such as Boys” and TV series like “Homeland” and “Masters of Sex”.
His newest movie, “Dreamin’ Wild,” stars as the father of two middle-aged brothers who find musical success late. It is based on a true story. “Family stories have always fascinated me,” Bridges said. “I also love true stories. The man I played, now my friend—I think he’s 91, still hauling lumber in the mountains—had thousands of acres on this farm in Fruitland, Washington. His sons showed an interest in music when he was young, so he sold most of his farm and set up a recording studio there. This was in the 70’s. We actually shot at their farm. But when they released their debut album, ‘Dreamin’ Wild’, they left out the marketing part of the equation. So the record kind of sucked. The story of the movie is the rediscovery of that album thirty years later.
Bridges will also star in the upcoming Apple TV+ series “Lessons in Chemistry” with Brie Larson and a movie called “The Neon Highway,” which is “fun for me because I love music, especially country and Western music.” It’s about an old man who’s a singer-songwriter, reviving his career, and having a second chance at finding fame.”
It’s been a long and varied career. When asked about her worst moment, she set the scene: “We’re speaking at the Billy Rose Theater on Broadway in March 1966. It was an incredible opportunity for me.”
It takes the story from there.
My worst memory…
“I was in my mid-20s and I was like, ‘Where’s Dad?’ I played the lead role in a play called. by William Inge. I was working with a very famous Broadway actor named Hiram Sherman.
“We had a very important scene in the play where he got angry with me and said something that upset me. So after this argument between us, my character goes into the bathroom and I slam the door. Then Hiram has a long, very touching monologue, it lasts about three or four minutes, and then I go out and I still have to be sad.
“And one night, while I’m sitting on the toilet while he’s doing his monologue, all the craziness of what I’m doing – being an actor – hits me. And while I waited for my signal, I started laughing. And I’m laughing because we’re being asked to do a lot of weird things as actors, and it just seems hysterically funny to me right now – here I am, a young man sitting on the toilet waiting to come out. And I have to be totally emotional.
“Like when something seems funny to you when you’re in church. (laughs). It’s the worst timing imaginable – and it makes it even harder for you to control yourself and control your emotions. I had to go out and finish the scene and I had to be in tears. And I’m sitting in this little bathroom set and I to laugh.
“It was terrible because people paid good money to watch this game.
“As I got closer to my cue, I was laughing so much that I was actually crying. And it occurred to me that if you’re laughing really hard and it makes you cry, you’re getting emotional very close to how you feel when you’re sobbing.
“So I was hoping this would fly (laughs). I’m sure Hiram saw what was going on and probably half the audience did too. I wasn’t booed from the stage or anything, but it was pretty scary. I felt really bad about everything.
“The game closed after two weeks and now that I think about it, that probably puts more pressure on us as players because we probably knew the game wasn’t well received. Maybe some of that feeling came from there.
“At this point, I played a lot of roles in front of the camera, but I didn’t go on stage much. And then I didn’t do Broadway again until I made ‘How to Succeed Without Really Trying’ with Nick Jonas about 10 years ago.”
The family business was acting when Bridges was growing up, so why does she suddenly think she’s hit the bullshit of all this?
“I’m not sure. I enjoy my job so much – it’s really fun – so the humorous aspects don’t escape me. ME to feel IT. But sometimes this can get in your way because you can’t be distracted by any of them. To get the job done, you need to be disciplined, stay focused, and keep your behavior in line. And I think I was very young then and still trying to understand.
“I was a novice on stage. And in the theater you are outside without the net. There aren’t two. You have to go for it.
“It was just a weird experience. But what we did as actors was weird.
“Something my father told me and I always try to keep in mind is to be intentional. Be prepared, be deliberate, and stay focused. And that was a time when he distanced himself from me.
“I was laughing in church and you can’t do that. You have to respect a storytelling process. It’s not just entertainment. This is a very old, centuries old thing. We were doing this around the campfire thousands of years ago, telling stories about what was going on in the next village.”
Nina Metz is a television and film critic for the Chicago Tribune, where she writes a series regularly. “My Worst Moment.” Players remember their worst moments and how their careers were shaped by them.