Jeff Bridges: Hell or High Water 'shines a light' on why Trump won
The American desolation at the heart of this past summer’s sleeper hit Hell or High Water has a much different feel after Donald Trump’s surprising election victory on Nov. 8 — something not far from the mind of costar Jeff Bridges. The Oscar-winning actor stars as a Texas marshall tasked with hunting two bank-robbing brothers (Chris Pine and Ben Foster), who steal from one particularly greedy chain of banks, a company that has savaged the surrounding area with bad loans and debt. “The script just rang authentic to me,” Bridges tells EW. “But then I also liked this ambiguity. It was kind of all gray. Right and wrong seemed blurred. Certainly it’s not right to rob a bank, but is it right for banks to be lending money to people they know full well can’t pay it back, so they can get a crack at their land? I like that aspect of it.”
EW spoke with Bridges about the upcoming Hell of High Water Blu-ray release (out Nov. 22), and his thoughts about the country and where we’re headed now.
What struck you about the script when you first read it?
How real it seemed. I really felt that Taylor Sheridan must know something about Texas and about these guys, the brothers, as well as this Texas ranger. After I met with him, it turned out that it’s true. He’s from Texas, and he’s aware of what that Texas life is like. His cousin Parnell McNamara was a marshall, who struggled through the retirement process. He’s now a sheriff, and I was able to talk with him.
Have you been thinking about the film in light of the election? The perspective that a lot of people were missing and that decided the outcome is really present here.
I think that’s a good point. The story the movie is telling shines a light on why the election went the way that it did, and how seriously disappointed many people have been in the way that the government is running. They have little faith in it, and we’ll see. I hope we don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater here. But I’m rooting for the guy, Mr. Trump. One of the things that’s most appealing about him is his unpredictability. A less kind word might be his hypocrisy, but unpredictability and hypocrisy are things that each of us human being share. It’s something we all struggle with and work with. I was pleased to hear his acceptance speech. Taken out of context, that would be wonderful. Talking about unpredictability, who would have thought that he would be praising Hillary Clinton and thanking her for her wonderful work after trashing her and inviting all of the people who didn’t vote for him, that he’d be looking for guidance from these people, all of these wonderful things? I’m rooting for the guy, but we’ll see how it all goes. You just don’t know how it will all work out.
How glued to the news have you been since the election?
I’ve been fascinated hearing about all of his appointments and wondering how all of that’s going to work out. We’ll see how the deal with the Russians go and all of his court cases. It’s a fascinating time. It’s kind of like that Zen story. We’ll see. President Obama has set a good tone, and so has Hillary. I like what Elizabeth Warren said. She had some good things to say, so we’ll see, as the farmer said.
After such a long and accomplished career, what keeps you acting?
The word “momentum” comes to mind [laughs]. It’s probably just because I’ve been doing it for so long that it’s become part of my groove. It’s kind of what I do, you know? I do my best to try to not make movies — it’s funny — to not engage, because I know what that costs. For one thing, you get on board of one movie, and then you can’t do some other movie. You’re not even sure what that movie might be, but you’re kind of booked. It takes up a certain amount of time. There are so many other things that I’d like to be doing in terms of being with my family. I have a lot of other interests — music and art. I’m also working toward ending hunger in our country. I’m focused on that and climate change. It takes time and energy when you’re doing a movie. I try hard not to do movie, and then every once in a while, you’ll get a script like Hell or High Water that’ll come down the pike and it will be too cool to turn down.
Will there come a point where you say, “I’m done. That’s it”?
[laughs] I would imagine. My dad, you know, he worked until he was an old guy. Unlike Texas rangers, actors can act on their deathbed. I don’t know quite how it will go.