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How come you said no to Crazy Heart the first time you saw the script?
It was a wonderful script and a great story. But the bar was set pretty high for me as far as making movies about a musician’s life went, with The Fabulous Baker Boys. On Crazy Heart, while the script was great, there was no music attached and this movie with lousy music wouldn’t be half the picture. About a year later my friend T-Bone Brunette [American singer songwriter] asked me about it and he said I’ll do it if you do it.

So the songs were written especially for you?
A lot of them.

What’s your musical background?
I took piano lessons when I was a kid, but I rebelled against my mother and didn’t practice. You shouldn’t do that. Always listen to your mother. I said I didn’t want to practise, and she stopped my piano lessons and said “you’ll be sorry” and she was absolutely right. I would like to have been a piano chap. Then I picked up the guitar and started to write and play when I was about 13 or 14 years old. I still do it today.

Has doing the film made you want to do another album, like 2000’s Be Here Soon?
Yeah it sure has. There was a whole batch of tunes that didn’t make it on to the movie for one reason or another and they were great tunes.

How was working with Maggie Gyllenhaal?
Maggie was just wonderful to play with. Acting is kind of like tennis and your game improves depending on who you’re playing against. Acting is also kind of a magic trick. It’s the combination of slight of hand and real alchemy when you’re pouring these different elements and seeing how your heart responds. To be working with magicians like those guys was wonderful.

You had a hand in choosing Maggie for the role, we hear. How come?
I admired Maggie’s acting and had been following her career. She’s a great actress. She just disappears into the role and becomes that person. She was at the top of the list of actors that I imagined to be in the film.

Did you ever think the age difference could be an issue?
I thought about having a more age appropriate relationship but the story didn’t lend itself to that and it felt better this way. I don’t know if any age was specified in the book. I can’t remember. I think of myself as 25! I can’t believe I’m 60 years old.

Did you drink a lot to help you act like your Crazy Heart character Bad Blake?
I did that early on in my career. I would sometimes have a little drink at the end of the day to have a hangover if it seemed pretty appropriate for the role. But health is the best high.

Is Tron: Legacy going to be any good?
I decided to go ahead with the sequel to that so I could be part of the new technological edge of movie making. It’s going to make the old Tron look like a black and white TV show. I’ve seen clips of movies that used the same technologies that were used with this film and it was interesting to see how every artist used this new gear. For an actor to see it was really amazing.

What kind of stuff?
It was a bit like green screen stuff like in King Kong where you have to react to something that’s not there. This new image capture really calls on an entirely new acting technique and I’m not sure if I entirely figured it out. It’s making movies without cameras. They have a room filled with sensors and you are dressed in a leotard with dots all on it. Then when you’re doing a love scene, it’s really hard to get into, you know.

Do you care about up for best actor at this year’s Oscars?
For me personally it felt great to get the nod. It would be wonderful to get one of those little gold guys. But I don’t have too much emotional attachment to winning or not. It’s tense, and I don’t like being tense.

How’s True Grit, your new Coen brothers film, shaping up?
Yeah I’m excited about that one. I get to work with Matt Damon. I’m not nervous. The Coen brothers are referencing the book [written by Charles Portis in 1968] rather than the movie [from 1969, starring John Wayne], so I’m just going to treat it as a first time thing from the book.

CLICK HERE TO READ FHM'S CRAZY HEART REVIEW