The 2008 kickoff to the Marvel Cinematic Universe starring Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, and Bridges was helmed by Jon Favreau, whom Bridges called a “great filmmaker” during a career retrospective video for Vanity Fair. However, Marvel didn’t make Favreau’s job any easier at the time.
“It was Marvel’s first adventure into making movies. It was so lucky to have Jon on there and [Robert] Downey, because both of them are so, they’re terrific improvisers, and we spent a couple of weeks working on the script and rehearsing together, because we didn’t like the original script and we thought, ‘Oh yeah, we fixed this, fixed that,'” Bridges explained.
He continued, “And then came the first day of shooting, and Marvel kind of threw out our script that we had been working on, said, ‘No, that’s no good. It’s got to be this and that.’ And so there was a lot of confusion about what our script was, what we were gonna say, you know? And we’d spend hours in one of our trailers going over lines, and saying ‘Oh you play my part or I’ll play your part,’ exploring how we were going to do it.”
According to Bridges, Favreau reached out to screenwriters as consultants: “Jon would say, ‘Oh, I know a writer. Let me see he may have some ideas…’ Meanwhile, the crew is in the sound stage, tapping their feet saying, ‘When are we going to get this thing going?'”
The experience was not like anything Bridges had dealt with before.
“It drove me absolutely crazy until I made a slight adjustment in my brain,” the Oscar winner confessed, “and that adjustment was, ‘Jeff, just relax. You’re making a $200 million student film. Just relax and have fun.’ And that kind of did the trick because here I get to play with these two incredible artists and just jam, and that’s what we ended up doing.”
And for Bridges, the result proved to be one for the books. “For my money, that’s the best Marvel movie,” he summed up. “I know I’m biased, of course. But man, I thought it was a wonderful experience.”