Jeff Bridges

Interview with The Giver’s Jeff Bridges

The Giver

Written by Kelli Gillespie

The sci-fi novel The Giver, has sold more than 10 million copies and has been adapted to the big screen in a movie starring Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep. In the United States, Canada, and Australia, this 1994 Newbery Medal award-winning book is on many middle school reading lists. The story focuses on a world of “sameness.” Where there is no conflict, racism, sickness and every member of society has a specific role selected for them. The “Giver,” played by Jeff Bridges, holds all the memories and releases them slowly to the chosen “Receiver” to help provide future wisdom for the society. Risen sat down with Bridges to talk about experiencing things for the first time, memories, his family and the important themes within the film.

Interviewed for Risen Magazine at the Four Seasons Hotel, Beverly Hills, California

Risen Magazine: Exploring some themes of the film like the question, Can you have full love, joy and faith without experiencing at some point pain or loss? What resonated with you most about the movie?
Jeff Bridges: I certainly related to the themes and I dig my comfort. I want to be comfortable. I think all creatures, whether human beings or animals, we all gravitate towards comfort. And I think the movie asks the question, What does comfort cost and what are we willing to pay to have ultimate comfort? Plus, Is ultimate comfort even possible? The movie takes place in some future time, but it’s very reflective of what’s going on now with our own technology and so forth, and the power of that. Our ethics haven’t really caught up with our technology and I think it’s important to question that.

Jeff Bridges and Brenton Thwaites in The Giver

(l-r) Jeff Bridges and Brenton Thwaites in The Giver

Risen Magazine: Your character gives memories to the receiver and in some way imparts wisdom. What about in your own life? Who was someone that you garnered wisdom from and helped you to have to have more informed decisions?
Jeff Bridges: The first people that come to mind are my folks. My mom and my dad were tremendous givers. Initially, I wanted to direct my father, Lloyd Bridges, in this movie as the Giver. But it’s taken me 18 years to get this film up and on the screen, and since my dad is no longer with us, I ended up stepping into the role as the Giver. They’ve both given me so much.

Risen Magazine: Can you remember back to when something was new and you experienced it for the first time?
Jeff Bridges: Seeing my kids being born. Amazing. Talk about suffering and struggle; my wife, having to go through that. But it was such a full, miraculous experience.
Risen Magazine: What is a favorite memory that stands out to you or one that you would hope to pass down through experiences to others?
Jeff Bridges: I remember my father, back in the 60s, bringing home a book called The Family of Man. It was a photographic essay that either Look Magazine or Life Magazine put out. It was photographs of people’s lives all over the world. We live in this style (referring to the Four Seasons hotel room we are in to do the interview), which is actually quite rare; not too many people live this way. And my father made the point that we are a family, all mankind is a family and we’ve got to take care of each other. That has stuck with me as a memory that I cherish and try to carry on.

Risen Magazine: Such a great cast… you and Meryl Streep have some great exchanges… what was it like finally getting to work together?
Jeff Bridges: Working with Meryl was like a dream come true. I always wanted to do something with her. We met years ago; our girls were on the same soccer team together. But playing with her was wonderful. She’s such a pro and open and a kind spirit, that kindness and the excitement from her work rippled through the company.

Exclusive Interview originally published in Risen Magazine, Fall 2014

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