Jeff Bridges

Photography by Shawn Dogimont

Hobo #21 — Santa Barbara, December 2018.

Jeff Bridges — Hi Shawn!

Shawn Dogimont — Hey Jeff! How are you? You’re in California right now?

Jeff — Yeah, I’m in Santa Barbara, where are you?

— I’m in the south of France. I saw your film, Living in the Future’s Past, Sissy sent me the link, and I just thought it was fabulous and you know, I think it should be part of the curriculum.

— That’s one of the things that we’re doing, that we are excited about, we created a curriculum around the film that would be taught in schools and this will probably be the first of other films on the subject and we are hoping to inspire the younger folks to check out the movie and to come up with some good ideas as well.

— That’s fantastic, I didn’t know that, okay. It made me think of a quote by Thoreau that says: “Not until we are lost that we begin to understand ourselves.” It’s easy to feel insignificant if we’re part of a super organism that manipulates the world, yet there’s a flip side I suppose and that’s what I got from the film, that we can each begin to make the change we want to see.

— Yeah, that’s absolutely true, one of my heroes that I don’t believe was included in the movie was Buckminster Fuller, are you familiar with him?

— No, I don’t think so.

— Yeah, he’s an inventor, philosopher, amazing person, his mostly famous invention was the geodesic dome. 

— Oh, of course.

— You see those all over the place. He made a very interesting observation about these ocean-going tankers, these huge ships that require an enormous rudder to turn the ship. The engineers that designed these rudders and ships were challenged because they found that it took too much energy to turn that big rudder, you know, with the force of the ocean against it, so they came up with a genius plan: They decided, well let’s put a little tiny rudder on that big rudder. That little tiny rubber is called a trim tab. So the little trim tab turns the rudder and then the rudder turns the ship and Buckminster Fuller, most people know him as “Bucky” Fuller, made the analogy that this is how the individual effects society, that in fact we are all trim tabs and we’re attached to each other and we are attached to people who are more powerful than us, might have more money but we are all connected in that way, so we can turn the rudder and then turn the ship, and we do make a difference. As a matter of fact on Buckminster Fuller’s gravestone, it says “Call me trim tab.” 

— [Laughs] Okay.

— I like to think of myself as a trim tab and I like to think of you as a trim tab, everybody, that we all make a big difference. 

— Absolutely. I don’t know if your the spokesman for the End Hunger campaign but the title of that organization is Share Our Strength. 

— Yes, I am the national spokesperson for their No Kid Hungry campaign. 

— It’s a good title.

— Isn’t that a good title? I love that, share our strength. One of the points that the film makes is that this information that is contained in this film, this is the first time our species has received that information about emerging behaviours, super organisms, that’s new information and how that will affect the super organism remains to be seen but it’s definitely a strong bit of wisdom that we are now privy to, that can make a huge difference.

— And do you think the solution that we are looking for, like you say in the film, is inside us, I mean, do you believe that? I suppose this idea of a joint effort must be more evident to you. I’m thinking of what it must be like to make a film, it’s what you’ve done for so many years, you know to be in that sort of collaborative energy. 

— Yeah, that really kind of involves my life [laughs]. I’ve always thought what a wonderful way, a great example for how the world can work. You know, you make movies, you’re gathering people with all kinds of ideologies and political differences, religious differences, and they’re all out there to make a beautiful movie, something we can all be proud of. If we could just apply that to our lives and to our planet. That’s something I dream about.

— Near the end of the film you talk about access to empathy and sympathy and compassion. Can the answers be found within feelings? 

— Say that again.

— Yeah, it’s a bit abstract to me, I know that we’ve got wisdom that’s inherent, and the final quote in the film talked about this energy of love…

— Yeah.

— And I was wondering if you had any thoughts on that?

— Well, I just know that it’s a very powerful force. You know, we all experience love but we haven’t studied it to the extent that it could be studied. It’s a force of nature, it makes us love our children, have empathy, this is something that is natural to our species and its been responsible for a lot of our success I think. 

— I suppose it transcends the individual.

— When you think about the opposite of love, I guess that’s evil or fear or hate and those kinds of things. I would imagine evil, in my opinion, to be total selfishness, just looking after yourself, screw everybody else, you know. Fear is kind of a similar thing. I’d better get mine before it all goes. Even letting fear run us: We’re going to lose our planet, I’m afraid it’s all going to go to hell you know. You can head in that same kind of direction but you can do it through love just because, look how beautiful our planet is. How beautiful our lovers, our children, that same kind of feeling about wanting to protect that. There’s that word sustainability, and in my experience, nothing is sustainable, you know change is about the only thing you can count on, so I’d like to think of if as being more resilient, like taking the challenges and letting them inspire us to take action. A lot of the leaders today are headed in a direction that I don’t fancy. But rather than spending energy being so pissed off at them, the function in my life, is to let it inspire me to take action and to get together with people of like minded feelings and get the boat headed in the right
direction [laughs] and that’s love, that’s something that we all can experience and you don’t have to act out of fear, you can act just out of love. Who knows how it’s going to work out? I don’t know. But I know that I love my planet, that I love my people, I want to make it great not only for me but for my kids and my grandkids and our future.

— I wonder if being married, I know that you have been married for a long time, and if sharing your life with somebody, having to put yourselves in each others shoes, if that helps as far as looking at the greater world.

— Yeah I think marriage or your number one relationship, those are great training fields on how you relate to the rest of the world. There are a lot of challenges in relationships and of course with what we were talking about, climate, there are a lot of challenges and those can wake us up and we can engage and become more intimate with each other, which is, that’s the main high isn’t it, I find, intimacy. I find, intimacy, getting to know people, letting people in to know you, knowing each other as a species and we’re all unique but that’s what we have in common, our uniqueness and as you said, I love that title, Share Our Strength, share each of our strengths to create the kind of planet we want to live in and our kids and grand kids to live in.

— Absolutely, and I think that’s what’s wonderful about the documentary that you guys made, it’s not pointing a finger and it really is enlightening in that you know, with knowledge, comes power kind of thing which I find very empowering.

— Yeah, I do too. I’m really so pleased with the film, I’ve learned a lot by just being a part of it. One of the things that I’ve learned, is that our climate has changed in the past but not so rapidly. It happens so quickly now that the different species and plants and animals can’t adapt quick enough. So that’s big and also how are we using our fossil fuel. This substance underground that feeds our robots and keeps us living how we’ve lived. That fuel that’s underground, that’s only going to be available at the price that makes sense. The more energy it costs, the less it makes sense to even go for it. That’s only going to last for a little while, we’re kind of using it in a capricious way now and we should be really using it to help power this transition that we are going to have to make onto wind and solar and all the rest. You can’t just magically snap your fingers and have solar panels. You’re going to have to use oil to make those solar panels.

— Is this impossibe goal possible?

— Well, it’s certainly not impossible, let’s put it that way. We can turn this thing around you know, there’s a little rudder under each of us and we can use that power and team up with each other and turn this thing around.

— Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. That’s great! Thank you so much Jeff. Oh by the way, I just wanted to tell you I did a road trip with my dad in Utah and hung out with Bart the Bear and spent a couple of nights with Doug and Lynne Seus.

— Oh yeah? They’re wonderful people, how great!

— It was a very cool experience and your name came up so I thought I’d tell you.

— Oh yeah, there’re wonderful friends.

— Yes, it was incredible to meet Little Bart and both of them, they are fantastic.

— You might look up ‘Bucky’ Fuller, I think you might find him a fascinating character. He’s been dead for quite a few years but there’re some videos of him speaking [laughs]. He’s really a character as far as how fast his brain works. He’s famous for writing a book in the 60’s called Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth, you might have heard of it.

— [laughs] I’ve heard of it, I’ll definitely revisit and lastly, what’s happening with The Abiders, anything coming up?

— Oh, yeah, we’re working on some new tunes, you know, do some shows and get back into it.

— Alright! Good to hear, looking forward to it.

— And let me throw one more promo thing at you to check out because it also ties into No Kid Hungry, Share Our Strength. If you try googling and if you go in the top bar you’ll see something called “watch” and if you click on that, you can see kind of a tape we’ve been working on and then if you go over the awake side, you learn a little bit more about what I’m up to in this weird thing.

— Excellent, I mean, I listen to the Sleeping Tapes almost weekly so…

— Oh good, so this is like the Sleeping Tapes to the next level, it’s odd what happened but it’s interesting.