If you thought your family was dysfunctional, wait until you meet the characters of Jeff Bridges’ new drama “The Only Living Boy in New York.”
Directed by Marc Webb, the film centers around a college grad named Thomas (Callum Turner) who finds out that his father, a successful New York publisher played by Pierce Brosnan, is cheating on his mother with a younger woman (Kate Beckinsale). Things get complicated as Turner’s character decides to break up his dad’s affair by sleeping with his mistress. Meanwhile, Bridges plays Thomas’ whiskey-loving neighbor who ends up mentoring him through the tricky situation, but also has a mysterious agenda of his own.
Ahead of the film’s release this weekend, we chatted with the 67-year-old Oscar winner, who didn’t hesitate to break out his “Dude” side for a very zen conversation on the soul of New York, the mystery of life and more.
Having lived in New York back in the day, do you agree with the assessment made by Callum Turner’s character, that New York has lost its soul to the rise of Starbucks and SoulCycle?
What is that term you used, SoulCycle? What is that, a cycling place?
Yeah, it’s a popular cycling gym.
Souls and other things go through cycles. This is just another cycle that will spawn a more creative, artistic one. But us human beings, we don’t like change. We resist it–I know I do. We get nostalgic for things. But it ain’t what it used to be.
What is the film’s message about change then? Is it better to go with the flow?
We’re part of the flow as well. We have something to do with what’s happening. I don’t know if there’s really a message. I think it’s maybe the appreciation of life, the mystery of life. That’s kind of how life is. You think you got it figured out, but it’s got many other layers to it. And just to be sensitive to that and ask yourself, “What’s your role in the way it all flows?” You don’t like the way your town is looking, what are you going to do about? You can supply the soul that you feel that your city is lacking.
“The Only Living Boy in New York” revolves a round a dysfunctional family who’re all involved in the arts in some way. Is it possible to be a great artist without messing up your family life?
Art surfaces in all kinds of different families at all different levels of disruption and that sort of thing. I don’t think you have to suffer terribly to be an artist. Life supplies us all with a dose of suffering all through our lives. No, I think art blooms in all sorts of situations.
Lies and infidelity play big roles in the film. Considering how lying seems to be the norm in today’s political climate, does the truth even mean anything anymore?
What comes to mind as you ask that question, lies imply the truth, and the truth, as far as I can tell, is such a subjective kind of thing. Our goals for telling our version of the truth and why we lie, sometimes we’ll think our lying is for the common good–and often it can be. You can tell an ethical lie, if that’s such a thing. I suppose there’s such an animal. Also what comes to mind, considering how much we do lie and how fallible a species we are, the word grace comes to mind. I’m not a particularly religious guy, but there must be some grace going down that’s allowed us to hang out on the planet as long as we have.
Since this month is Tom Brady’s birthday and you recently worked with him on an Uggs ad campaign, what did you think of his acting abilities? Does he have a future in the business?
Yeah he could do it. We had fun doing our little scene together. Happy birthday Tom!
“The Only Living Boy in New York” hits theaters on Aug. 11.