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Oscars: Jeff Bridges on that special costume designer-character relationship

February 22, 2011 |  4:30 pm

Bridges Cogburn 
The last time Oscar-nominated costume designer Mary Zophres worked with Jeff Bridges, she drove to his Santa Barbara home and rummaged through his closet.

That was for the movie “The Big Lebowski,” and the clothes Zophres and Bridges found together -– beginning with a pair of plastic Jelly shoes -– became the foundation for the look of The Dude, a look that has enjoyed a healthy afterlife on T-shirts and at Lebowski Fest costume contests.

For “True Grit,” Bridges’ closet obviously wasn’t an option. But Zophres still worked closely with the actor to find just the right hat and boots to wear while playing that mess of a U.S. marshal, Rooster Cogburn.

“That’s very important to me, that relationship with the costume designer, because it happens very early in the process,” Bridges says. “And Mary is so wonderful. She gives you a lot of choices, but she’s also very open. It’s a collaborative thing.”

That collaboration included picking Rooster’s iconic eye patch. Zophres gave Bridges several options and he, naturally, gravitated toward the rawest piece of leather.

“Mary knows that I’m gonna be the guy who wears this stuff, so she’s interested in my take on it,” Bridges says. “Pretty soon, as you start to dress the guy, the character begins to take over. You might say, ‘This kerchief looks kind of cool. I’d really like to wear this.’ And the character says, ‘No,’ and you go, ‘OK. OK, man. Whatever you say.’ ”

“The character gets what it wants,” Bridges adds. “It’s a wonderful shift that happens.”


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-- Glenn Whipp

Photo: Jeff Bridges in "True Grit." Credit: Lorey Sebastian / Paramount Pictures