Movies

Jeff Bridges feels the heat - on and off screen

Star of Only The Brave has been losing property to blazes since the early 1990s

There is a grim irony in the timing of Jeff Bridges' latest movie, the story of a firefighting crew that perished in one of the deadliest wildfires in US history.

Two weeks ago, the veteran 67-year-old actor sat down in Beverly Hills to discuss Only The Brave, which is showing here. He could not have known California was about to suffer its worst week for blazes, leaving at least 42 dead.

But it is a hazard never far from his mind, the Los Angeles native revealed, as he has been losing property to destructive infernos since the early 1990s.

"I lost my house to a fire in Malibu, it burned down. I was doing a (1994) movie called Blown Away and heard the news... and, sure enough, it got my house," he said.

"Then my wife Sue has evacuated our house in Santa Barbara three times while I have been out making movies, all by herself. That is a huge thing, taking everything out. We lived right up next to all this brush and everything is very crisp now."

Bridges also lost 160 ha of his ranch in Montana to a fire around five years ago, and even found himself fighting to save a friend's property, armed with a shovel, in another fire a decade or so earlier.

With this climate change, things are getting crispier and crispier. We are going to be seeing more fres, I think, and thank God we’ve got these guys whose job and passion is to fght them. Jeff Bridges

"With this climate change, things are getting crispier and crispier. We are going to be seeing more fires, I think, and thank God we've got these guys whose job and passion is to fight them," he said.

Only The Brave tells the real-life heroic tragedy of a group of such men, sent out on a June morning in Arizona in 2013 to battle a blaze threatening the town of Yarnell.

Bridges stars alongside Josh Brolin, Jennifer Connelly and Miles Teller as local fire chief Duane Steinbrink, whose battle-hardened wisdom makes him a mentor to the firefighters.

"There is a certain tragic aspect to our story but the movie doesn't centre on that," he said.

"It is really, who are these guys who risk their lives like this, and what makes those guys?"

The Oscar winner has been asked in countless interviews since playing iconic ageing slacker The Dude in Joel and Ethan Coen's 1998 cult comedy The Big Lebowski if he would be interested in doing a sequel, usually prompting an indulgent grin and an enthusiastic nod.

The Coens have always said they would never make a follow-up but it was announced in August that they gave their blessing to Going Places, a caper remake based on 1974 French comedy Les Valseuses. The movie doubles up as a Lebowski spin-off, but neither the Coens nor Bridges are involved.

"If the brothers invite me, I am there," said Bridges. "I am so proud of that movie and proud to have been a part of it... The Coen brothers are masters." - AFP

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