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Q&A: Jeff Bridges

Posted: Thursday April 27, 2006 2:15PM; Updated: Friday April 28, 2006 10:31AM
Jeff Bridges
Jeff Bridges plays a gymnastics coach in 'Stick It.'
Courtesy Buena Vista Pictures

Last week SI associate editor Richard Deitsch interviewed actor Jeff Bridges for the magazine's Q&A. The 56-year-old actor (The Big Lebowski) plays a girls' gymnastics coach in the comedy Stick It, which opens on April 28. Here are additional excerpts from their conversation.

SI: What role does sports play in your life on a day-to-day basis?
Bridges: Well, I'm not a big sports fan. My wife watches more sports than I do, though I enjoy boxing. My sport is acting. I look it at like that. If you apply John Wooden's pyramid to acting, there are a lot of parallels there: working with a team to achieve something together. What does Wooden say about that? If you've done your best, then you've won. What is winning? Does winning mean a big blockbuster movie where you get so many people to see it? What is winning in movies? It's abstract. I've done a few sports movies, and it's always great to get into it because it's an interesting metaphor for life.

SI: There are some serious gymnastics cameos in this film: Carly Patterson, Bart Conner, Allanna Slater, Elfi Schlegel and Tim Daggett. Can any of these guys act?
Bridges: Bart does a great job. He has an interview scene in which he plays a commentator. Carly did a fine job, too. She played herself, essentially.

SI: Are you channeling your inner Bela Karolyi here?
Bridges: Well, I did speak to a lot of coaches, but the people who really helped me were the Olympians we have on our set who were part of the cast: They did some of the double work for Missy Peregrym, the lead actress. [French gymnast] Isabelle Severino was very helpful to me. Whenever I needed to know what a coach's expression would be, how he stood or what he might say to one of the athletes, she would tell me her experiences. Also, in preparation for the movie I was able to go to a Junior Olympic nationals meet in L.A. I must have been a strange sight, because here were all these girls flipping around and I have my camera taking pitches of the coaches.