There’s probably no actor whose name is as synonymous with just taking it easy as Jeff Bridges. So we imagine that when he travels to Maui to play a show this Saturday, Jan. 23 at the Sheraton Maui Resort, he’ll enjoy himself. Bridges is perhaps best known for playing the Dude in the insanely quotable cult classic The Big Lebowski, but the Oscar winner, musician and anti-hunger activist is quite the achiever. We recently caught up with Bridges, who abided us a conversation about everything from his work with No Kid Hungry to being the Dude.
MAUITIME: I noticed you’re playing a show on Maui, but not on the other islands. What brings you out to Maui to play a single show?
JEFF BRIDGES: We were asked, for one thing. And that’s always nice, to be invited. And my brother has a place in the islands, so I’ll be spending some time with him. And it gives me a chance to play with my good buddy Chris Pelonis, who is my good friend and musical director of the Abiders, the band that we are both in.
MT: Do you plan on doing any island-hopping while you’re there?
JB: Yeah, we’ll probably be [checking out] different islands. We haven’t figured ‘em out yet, which ones we’re going to visit, but we’ll probably take a little trip. My wife will be coming with me. She’s my, uh, groupie. I travel with my own groupie. That’s kind of nice.
MT: Yeah, that seems like a good idea. Maui is the kind of place where you never know who’s going to show up on stage and play a set. Willie Nelson comes to mind in that regard. Is that in the cards, potentially, while you’re there?
JB: Could be. You never know. Chris and I love to play around, so if something pops up, we may just show up somewhere else, too.
MT: Any plans on working some island-inspired sounds–say, working a uke part into a tune or two?
JB: I don’t think so, no, not at this time, but we never know what’s going to happen ourselves at our shows, so it’s hard to give any predictions. Who knows? I’ll have to run that by Chris. He plays an uke, so who knows? We may add a little of that.
MT: Do you work out your set lists in advance or do you just kind of see how it feels and build it from there?
JB: We’ve been working on some new material and reworking some of the other stuff. Some songs from Crazy Heart and some stuff from our albums we’ve done in the past with the Abiders, an album that I put out with my buddy T-Bone Burnett after Crazy Heart. We’ll do some songs off that, and some, like I said, some new songs that we’re working on, too.
MT: Very cool. I have to ask, given the shocking news we had recently, do you plan on doing any songs to pay tribute to David Bowie?
JB: Not right now, but you never know. You’re dropping a lot of good ideas on me. The Bowie idea, the uke idea…We’re both Starman, you know, so I have an affinity to him in that way. But I haven’t worked out any of those tunes.
MT: So, another thing I have to ask is Dude-related, of course. I imagine that the Sheraton that night is going to stock the bar with a lot of Kahlua, more so than usual. Do you expect to see a lot of people out in the audience clad in bathrobes?
JB: [Laughs.] Could be. I feel so blessed to have been a big part of that movie, The Big Lebowski. It’s one of my favorite movies, whether I was in it or not. It’s just a wonderful film, you know? The Coen Brothers, they’re masters. They really know how to make movies… And of all my movies, that’s probably the one I’m most recognized for. And I don’t mind that at all.
MT: You’ve been involved with the fight against child hunger for a long time. Any plans on helping to bring the issue into the national dialogue ahead of the 2016 elections?
JB: I’ve been very involved with the hunger issue for about 30 years now. I helped out an organization called the End Hunger Network 30 years ago, and about 20 years ago we shifted our focus from world hunger to hunger here in America, because it started to raise its head and it continues today. One in five kids here in our country struggle with food insecurity… I’m happy to say that it’s really a bipartisan issue. We’ve had great response from Republicans as well as Democrats to make their states No Kid Hungry states. Primarily we’re talking about Breakfast After the Bell at school. So many of these kids that are struggling with hunger depend on nutrition at school.
MT: Speaking of politics, in my mind, the Dude would totally support Bernie Sanders. Do you have any thoughts on the candidate roster going into this election?
JB: Yeah, they’re all fascinating. I’m enjoying listening to all the candidates. Talking about hunger, Martin O’Malley, also running on the Democratic ticket, we jammed together up in Maryland. He’s a musician and we played together at different events. He’s really on the forefront of ending child hunger in his state.
MT: You’ve always seemed like a happy guy—blissful, even. What could you tell our readers about maintaining that state of mind in an often chaotic world?
JB: Yeah, well, it’s quite wonderful to be alive, you know? And like the Dude might say, there’s strikes and gutters. There are some bad times that are challenging and some wonderful times. And for me, one of the strategies or the tasks is to get out of my own way–whether it’s preparing for a role, or doing music or making a painting or anything, just kind of get out of my way of my own personal notions about the results that are hoped for and just kind of letting the thing come through me.
Saturday, Jan. 23 at 8pm
Sheraton Maui Resort
2605 Ka‘anapali Pkwy.
Kate Bradshaw is a former MauiTime staff writer/calendar editor now working as the News and Politics Editor at Creative Loafing Tampa.