Jeff Bridges says he planned to direct his dad Lloyd in 'The Giver'

"I read it, and, of course, it knocks me out. It’s a kids’ book, but as an adult I just loved the story and the themes in it," Bridges said.
By Karen Butler  |  Aug. 31, 2014 at 1:43 PM
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NEW YORK, Aug. 31 (UPI) -- Hollywood actor and producer Jeff Bridges says he initially wanted to direct his late father Lloyd in a screen adaptation of Lois Lowry's book The Giver, however, the process took so long he ended up playing the title role himself more than a decade after his father died in 1998 at the age of 85.

Helmed by Phillip Noyce and co-starring Meryl Streep, Brenton Thwaites, Taylor Swift, Katie Holmes and Odeya Rush, The Giver is set in a society that has forsaken passion and freedom for order and peace. The story is about what happens when teenager Jonas is selected to learn about life outside the community's boundaries from The Giver, Bridges' character and the keeper of the memories the society has medically supressed.

"It goes back 18 years, and I wanted to direct my father in something, and I wanted it to be something that my kids could see. They were all young. They're all in their 30s now," the 64-year-old actor said at a recent New York press conference.

"So, I got a catalog of children's books, and I'm looking at the different covers, and I see this photograph of an old, grizzled guy," he recalled. "And I thought, 'My dad could play that part.' I noticed the Newbery Award stamp on there. I said, 'Oh, this looks like it might be good!' I read it, and, of course, it knocks me out. It's a kids' book, but as an adult I just loved the story and the themes in it. I'm very excited about it, and I bring it in to tell my wife about it, and the kids said: 'Oh, we know that book. We're taught that book in school.' I said, 'What are you talking about?' They say: 'Yeah, there's a lesson plan for it.' I said, 'You're kidding me!' My excitement grows, and then I find out it's also on the list of banned books, and I then get more excited. Those are the kinds of movies I like. A little edgy, a little danger. I said: 'Oh, this is going to be a cinch to get made. Over 10 million copies sold in 21 countries, the money guys are going to go crazy over this.'"

Bridges went on to say his theory did not prove to be true.

"The controversy of it being one of the banned books, and selling so many copies and being popular in school, that freaked them out," he explained. "And, also, when we finally got the script together, it was very challenging to put this world that Lois had created in the book up on the screen, because so much of it was inner dialogue that this guy was having with himself, Jonas. Bob Weide... was our first writer. We spent a week or so up at my place, jamming on the story. It was challenging, but we dug it. We took it around and the guys, the financiers, they were too shocked. And, so, it took this long. I'm really so pleased it did take this long because this is the right team. We got the right director. Casting is everything. Not only the actors, but the crew and certainly our director and our director of photography, Ross Emery. He was so great. Phillip Noyce was like the key to the cast that we scored. But if it was made earlier, Odeya wasn't born. We would not have had Odeya with us and the whole team wouldn't have been there. So, I'm glad the gestation period was that long and boom! Here we are."

The Giver is in theaters now.

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