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.