Scott Cooper Talks About His Directorial Debut, Crazy Heart
12.17.09 by Ryan
Scott Cooper, an actor before he began writing screenplays, has made his writing and directing debut with Crazy Heart. The movie tells the story of a down-on-his-luck country singer (Jeff Bridges) and the journalist (Maggie Gyllenhaal) who tries to steer him toward salvation. Cooper, who adapted the screenplay from Thomas Cobb's novel, told ComingSoon that reading the novel inspired him to become a screenwriter.
I always wanted to tell the story of Merle Haggard who's probably the poet laureate of country music and for whatever reason I couldn't tell it because he had a lot of ex-wives and the rights issues were an issue. So, I recalled the novel and I felt like, "Wow, I can tell Merle's life story; I can tell Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristopherson's all at once and use it through this character." That's how it was adapting. Of course, I've never written a screenplay or adapted anything and as I was doing this, I wrote it for Jeff Bridges who is also a singer and a songwriter. He had the carriage and the physicality that I wanted and the fact that he's among the best American screen actors doesn't hurt.
Bridges' performance has drawn almost unanimous praise, and so far has garnered Bridges a Golden Globe Nomination. However, it was Robert Duvall's appearance in the movie that helped newcomer Cooper get Crazy Heart made the way Cooper wanted.
Well, after I finished the screenplay I sent it to my mentor, Robert Duvall, he and I have acted in three movies together and this is our fourth collaboration. I sent it to him, and hesitantly because of course, he won the best actor for Tender Mercies. He read it and said, "Scott, I love it. Let's make it. Well, what do you need?" I said, "There's two things I have to have to make this film and if I don't get them I shouldn't make it. One is Jeff Bridges of course and the other is [musician] T-Bone Burnett." It was critical because if you don't have that musical component, your movie's not gonna work.
Any time that you send a script with Robert Duvall's name on it, people are gonna read that first, trust me. He was very instrumental because he's putting his reputation and his name behind me as a first time writer and director, and he did it without any questions. Or at least he didn't question me about it. He felt it was time for me to step behind the camera.