The Giver star Jeff Bridges also serves as a producer of the film based on the Newbery award-winning book by Lois Lowry. He’s been trying to make this movie for so long that his first thought for casting the title role was his pop -- and he sought to also helm it.
“I originally wanted to direct my father, Lloyd Bridges, in the film and I wanted to make a movie that my kids could see. They were all young kids at the time. And I was looking at a catalogue of children’s books and came across this wonderful cover of this grizzled old guy,” Bridges told Movie Fanatic.
“I thought, ‘Oh, this is great.’ I read it and I was knocked out on a kid book level but also as an adult. I thought, ‘Oh, this is a movie I’d love to see.’”
Bridges finds it quite ironic that it’s taken so long to make The Giver, that he now is old enough to play the title character himself! “I finally qualified as the grizzled guy,” Bridges said.
But, it turns out, fate is a funny thing. The time it took to make it was worth it so that those that made it would be the right people at the right time (including star Brenton Thwaites, Meryl Streep and Katie Holmes). And as you can see in this The Giver trailer, they all converged at this fateful moment.
“It felt just wonderful. So much of the success of film depends on the cast -- not only the cast of actors but who is going to be the director (Phillip Noyce), who is going to be the cinematographer, and all of those slots were just filled in such a beautiful way. The movie transcended my expectations for it.”
Oscar winner Bridges is no stranger to working with young talent. It was him who was the acting volley partner for Hailee Steinfeld on True Grit. But when it came to Thwaites and Odeya Rush, particularly the former who he had dozens of scenes with, he compares it to musicians just having fun – something the accomplished singer-guitarist knows much about.
“We just jam, you know? It’s a musical expression but it also works for movies too. Brenton plays guitar. We did a lot of jamming,” Bridges said.
If there was any advice he imparted, it was some he got from his dad. “The main thing I learned from my dad was really just in observing how he worked and the joy that he had in doing what he loved doing. I got to work with him twice as an adult and for both those movies, whenever my dad came on the set, that joyful vibe came with him,” Bridges said.
“It’s contagious and it runs through the whole company. Everybody goes, ‘Yeah. This is kind of fun. This is kind of advanced pretend.’”
Speaking of young talent, a superstar singer is in the cast -- Taylor Swift -- and Bridges was more than impressed with the songstress.
“Taylor, gosh, she was so remarkable. I think her first day of work was right on the heels of arriving in Cape Town (where they filmed) and certainly exhausted,” Bridges said.
“She was such a pro and so up for being involved and playing. I hope she continues the acting because I think she’s very talented in addition to being a great songwriter and performer.”
Sure, this project started out as one that he got for his dad. But, now that he’s in it and the years have gone by, we wondered if Bridges ever thinks about retiring and smelling the proverbial roses.
“I’m 64 now so I’m moving along pretty good. There’s a limited time. I got a lot to do! I got a lot of ideas, a lot of things I want to realize. And that creates a certain amount of pressure,” Bridges admitted.
He then compared his thoughts to an angel and devil sitting on his shoulders. “One guy is saying, ‘You got to get to work. You’ve got a lot of stuff to do.’ And the other guy is saying to me, ‘Come on, Jeff. Just relax. Do you want your whole life to be a giant homework assignment?’ So it’s balancing those two things. It drives my wife crazy,” he said and laughed.
“But The Giver is a one-of-a-kind experience for me. I’ve never had that kind of passion or intention for a project -- holding it for 18 years -- so it’s very gratifying to see it come to fruition.”