When you hear Jeff Bridges' voice coming out of Big Z in Surf's Up, it fits perfectly. Especially when you see Bridges relaxing in Hawaii with his tropical shirt covered with native symbols and that deep voice just ambling along. But the penguin form of Bridges bears some distinct physical differences from Bridges that caused him a little concern.
Jeff Bridges Talks Surf's Up
"I tried to get the guy, I said, 'Gee, Big Z is kind of a fat penguin,'" Bridges recalled. "'Can you give him a little more tone?' He said, 'No, that’s going against the story.' I said, 'Yeah, yeah.' I didn’t have too much to say about his look or anything like that. I got a kick out of it. It was kind of funny."
Big Z mentors young Cody on the penguin surfing circuit. A former champion, Z imparts great wisdom to Cody about enjoying the fun of the sport. That's an important lesson in show business too.
"When we were making the movie, there was a bit of that. You could transpose surfing for acting in a sense that Shia and I are both actors and did it since we were kids. We would play together. There’s a lot of play in acting, like when you were a kid and you used to pretend and that sort of thing. Not that it doesn’t have to be serious. You can play very serious. Playing the piano, whether you’re playing Bach or whatever, it’s very serious music but there’s an element of play to it. That goes for surfing and goes for acting so yeah, certainly I think playing with Shia there was a lot of that same kind of sense. Not so much teaching somebody because he’s a wonderful improviser and there’s a great willingness that he has to play, to maybe be the fool or not. So we got to surf together, we got to play together."
An accomplished musician in his own right, Bridges provides his own ukulele song for the film. "I heard that they were putting that song in but I hadn’t heard it yet. When I was recording it, one of my friends says, 'You know, it’s not a Yuke-elele, it’s an ook-elele.' So I went off, they had the mic on and recorded it. I didn’t know they were going to do that. I played it. That’s me playing."
The actual music was written by Bridges' frequent collaborator. "That song was written by perhaps my oldest friend, a guy named John Goodwin. We go back to the fourth grade together, we’ve been making music and art and playing together all these years. Whenever I make a movie, he would say, 'So, what’s your movie about? I’ll write a song.' I say yeah, okay, and I’ll throw it. I remember he was over one day and I was working on it, I was telling him about the movie. I told him what the movie’s about, he came back an hour later and said, 'Here, what do you think?' and played that song."
Surf's Up opens to theatres on June 8th.
For the trailer, more posters and additional movie info, go to the Surf's Up Movie Page.
Stay tuned for updates.