If you’re on the set of a Jeff Bridges movie and see a guy taking pictures, beware. It might not be the movie’s still photographer, but Bridges himself.
The actor, who next appears in the Focus Features marital drama “Door in the Floor,” has been taking on-set photographs since early on in his career, and has just assembled them in “Pictures,” newly published by powerHouse Books. The volume is part art, part journal and part behind-the-scenes look.
Bridges has been making little books for the cast and crews of his movies since 1984’s “Starman,” but only now decided to go public.
“The weight of the material started getting richer and deeper, and it was time to hatch it,” he says, speaking by phone from his home in Santa Barbara, Calif.. “I guess I’m not like Emily Dickinson who keeps things wrapped up in a ribbon in their top drawer.”
He used a Widelux Panoramic F8, a wide-format panning still camera that allowed him to play with time and take a series of pictures that he calls “Comedy-Tragedy Mask.” In them, he asked actors with whom he was working — such as his “Seabiscuit” co-star Tobey Maguire — to imitate the classic masks of comedy and tragedy.
“Sometimes (the actors) look quite foolish trying to do this thing, but they’re all game,” Bridges says. “And that’s one of the great things about actors: their willingness to play and to do something.”
He adds, laughing at the audacity of his requests: “You spend a lot of time as an actor trying to be subtle, and here’s this guy asking you to do this blatant grin and frown.”
All proceeds from the book go to the Motion Picture & Television Fund.