Monday, August 15, 2011

The Fisher King


This man.

The one on the right.

He stars in the only film that ever comes to mind when someone asks me to name my favorite movie. It's Terry Gilliam's 1991 fable, The Fisher King. In it, he plays an emotionally distant radio shock jock, a self-absorbed jerk who ultimately finds redemption through the care shown to him by a homeless paranoid schizophrenic, played by Robin Williams, a sweet-natured soul whose circuits have been fried by tragedy, and whom the shock jock eventually feels compelled to protect, grasping that their fates are finally and eternally entwined.

The Fisher King is a love story. It's about being wounded in different ways and the power we have to heal one another. Every time I watch that movie, I am enthralled.

And last night, as Jeff Bridges was interviewed by the rather haughty Piers Morgan on CNN, I remembered why I can't turn away when he's onscreen, Bridges I mean, not the Brit. He's so authentic and humble, so aware of the graces that have eased his life, so devoid of false modesty. Even when asked that cliche of a question, "Was winning the Oscar the highlight of your life?" Bridges was pitch perfect. "Well, watching my children being born beat that," he said. Of course it did. And when Morgan pressed, asking, "Well, the highlight of your professional life," Bridges replied, "Not really, that would be the work. The highlight is doing the work." He said it gently, allowing his interviewer to save face, but he didn't get drawn in by the easy answer.

But what really, really slayed me was when he talked about his marriage of 36 years, to a townie he met while making a movie in Montana. He had been terrified of marriage. He shared that his wife hates when he says this, but he had thought of marriage as one step towards death, because now you were with the woman you would be with for the rest of your life, there would be no one else until death. Well. That sounds like a man who knew how to make a commitment. And then, when Morgan asked him the secret of his great marriage despite the Hollywood celebrity machine, Bridges got this goofy aw shucks look on his face and he mumbled shyly through his shaggy beard that that he was more in love with his wife now than ever. And then he said:

“It’s like that question, how do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice. In marriage, what that means is when those tight times happen, when you feel, Oh, shit, this is terrible, I’m outta here, that's when you have to lean into it, you take it as an opportunity to learn more about each other, get closer, and enlarge your love. Then that precious feeling kind of pulls you together and encourages you in the next tough time.”

Lean into it, he said.

This man.




22 comments:

  1. I share your feelings about Bridges. Have you ever heard or read the story about how he wooed his wife? It's delightful! on top of being a real mensch, he's a superlative actor and - sadly - a gifted photographer. (The bum.)

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  2. Yeah. He's just darling. Can't help but love him.

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  3. Dear Angella, I so adore The Fisher King--it's one of my favorite films ever. So tender and funny and as you say redemptive. I'm glad to learn here about his marriage, what a wonderful story. I can't turn away from a film he's in either. Thank you for writing so well about this great guy. xo

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  4. Glenn, i did hear one version of the story! She turned him down when he asked her out. She had two black eyes from a car accident when he met her. he said he thought it was from a bad boyfriend and he was going to rescue her, and then she turned him down. but then they saw each other that night in a bar and danced all evening. he was smitten. what was the story you heard? and now i'll have to check out his pictures, since a gifted photographer is telling me to!

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  5. Ms. Moon, for sure.

    Melissa, for some reason, i meet so few people who have seen that movie! glad to hear you loved it too.

    Elizabeth, i hope that is a "he's dreamy" sigh. xo

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  6. Oh he is so dreamy, and what you wrote about him makes me love him even more. And I also love his brother.
    When I was a little girl, there was this movie, The Fabulous Baker Boys, I don't remember much, except that I thought he was just very neat.
    Happiness.

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  7. He's The Dude. 'Nuff said. (raising a White Russian in his general direction.)

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  8. Ain't that the truth. It is such a great feeling being with someone for decades. It's comforting and I need that. When the whol se world is in chaos, you know where to seek sanctuary.
    Your Friend, m.
    p.s. I don't get Pierce Morgan either.

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  9. Your post is a Valentine to all of us who sigh and swoon to see him on screen. There is a movie, STARMAN, which I haven't seen in years which I remember liking when I was in my 80s incarnation. Anyone staying married, signing on for the full ride, has my admiration and in Hollywood it is so rare and wonderful to behold. Even the less-than-brilliant (not him) AGAINST ALL ODDS I will rewatch for sheer hotness. Thank you, Angella. xo

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  10. This movie is on my shelf along with my other three movies. Wizard of Oz, Amadeus, Fisher King and another Gilliam movie, Brazil. When Bridges made American Heart the director used my husband's apartment to film (my ex I mean he was living in the actual apartment at the time so they moved him upstairs for the duration of the film.) My son visited his father a lot during the filming and got to talk to Bridges about photography (naturally) and said that most of the time Bridges just sat on a folding chair watching people or playing his guitar. He was quiet and kind.
    xo

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  11. ps. Marylinn, Starman is now streaming live on Netflix. I watched it just the other day, <3

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  12. I adore this actor. In your post, you have expressed some of his main character traits. It's amazing that he is so humble :)

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  13. Wow, I've seen him in a few movies, and I didn't appreciate how wonderful, how positively swoony he is. Thanks, Angella!

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  14. OMG I LOVE HIM TOO!!!! i missed the interview, but i LOVE THE FISHER KING! such a wonderful movie, and wonderful cast (including the always awesome mercedes ruehl). jeff bridges is one HOT grandpa. no lie.

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  15. MY NO. 1 SECRET BOYFRIEND!

    Loved him in Starman a gazillion years ago, found him hot in the Baker Boys, but Crazy Heart did me in.

    I puffy heart him

    xoxoxo

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  16. I missed that interview but my husband saw it and couldn't stop talking about it, so it was quite interesting to read your post here. Also he's a musician.

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  17. Rebecca - Thank you. I am off to select it. xo
    Angella - Thank you for letting us pass notes here. xo

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  18. I had no idea that so many of you were feeling the love! Yes, Jeff Bridges is indeed dreamy and crushable. Deirdre points out he's a musician which reminds me I should have mentioned he has a self titled album arriving soon. "Flowers bloom at different times," Bridges told AP in an interview from Scottsdale, Arizona, where he was playing a gig. "Music has been a part of my life going back to my early teens, and it just comes out, it just pops out in different ways, whether it's playing jazz piano in Baker Boys or being a country artist in Crazy Heart." He said in the CNN interview that he actually started out to be a musician, but the gates to acting opened first and wide, and he walked on through, always intending to get back to music. And now he has.

    And how is it that I have never seen Starman? Off to rent it from Netflix!

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  19. Rebecca, how cool that your very cool Surfer got to talk art with The Dude!

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  20. He does seem like a very authentic person, not to mention an excellent actor. I was so happy when he finally won his Oscar.

    I haven't seen The Fisher King in YEARS -- not since it was in the theaters. (Could that really have been 20 years ago??) I need to rent it one of these days!

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  21. I've had a crush on him since Day One.

    Starman! Yes!

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