Bruce Dern, runner
September 15, 2014 7:48 PM   Subscribe

Bruce Dern is a life-long runner. Three interviews with Runner's World discuss his obsession with running and how it interplays with his acting. From 1978, Running Is a Hard Act to Follow:
In the case of certain roles such as The King of Marvin Gardens, where the character stays with me for months after the movie is over, it is hard to get rid of him. It’s a frustration of the character. I think the same thing is true of running. All of my acting is on the theory of working from the inside out. Everything happens inside and then it comes out and the person grows out of that. Well, the running is the same thing for me. It happens from the inside out. It's the need and the desire that then makes the body go out and do it. And the desire to improve.

From 2006, Dern interviewed for the magazine's regular feature I'm A Runner:
I think that no matter what I do in my life, when I finish that run, I've made an investment in myself for that day. And I bank that. And that, I think, is the key to anybody who runs.
From 2014, A Running Conversation with Bruce Dern, discussing his role in Alexander Payne's Nebraska:
The detachment, the not being aware of what's going on around me, I don't know how many long runs I've been on where I've been right there. My mind isn't in a specific place. I'm just moving forward, and Woody was kind of the same thing. He's just drifting. The greatest line in a movie I've ever seen, and it kind of relates to long-distance running, is in Lawrence of Arabia. They're crossing the desert and the Omar Sharif character comes up on his camel next to Lawrence, who is fast asleep, zoned out, gone. And Omar pokes Lawrence in the ribs and says, "Be warned. You were drifting." I don't know how many long runs or long races I've been through where I have to remind myself, "You're drifting, Bruce. Be careful."
Nebraska and Silent Running on FanFare.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle (17 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I found this article to be terribly, terribly boring.

Also I hate running. But when I replace "running" with "cycling" I do get it. Cycling is my therapy. A couple weekends ago I was anxious and couldn't concentrate on anything so I went out on my bike and I pushed myself as hard as I could just to beat whatever was bothering out of me. It worked. I went home and was able to do what I needed to do.

I'm not a good cyclist. My fastest speeds are others slow ones. But if I don't ride my bike everyday, my limbs feel all weird and restless. If I'm being too leisurely, I don't enjoy that ride. I am always pushing to get better, to be better.

But like I said, I almost fell asleep reading this. It felt like a punishment.
posted by Aranquis at 8:19 PM on September 15, 2014

Metafilter: I almost fell asleep reading this. It felt like a punishment.
posted by xmutex at 8:26 PM on September 15, 2014 [6 favorites]

I really enjoyed the interview. Thanks.
posted by xmutex at 8:28 PM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

I have so much respect for Bruce Dern after watching "Nebraska" - holy shit did he bring it. Thanks for this post, as a runner it's interesting to me when celebrities or other public figures stick their hands up and say, "me too!".
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 8:39 PM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

If it came from inside, one might say he was... silent running. Yeeaaaaaaaah.
posted by Yowser at 8:44 PM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

I have been wishy-washy about running, going out every now and then and doing 3 or 4k but quitting for long stretches because weather, because I don't wanna, because whatever. But this year I've finally gotten serious about running and am doing 10k every other day. So in other words, thanks for this article; I am interested in hearing stories of running and the how and the why.
posted by zardoz at 8:54 PM on September 15, 2014 [5 favorites]

The surprising thing about Bruce Dern runnning is that he can do it so silently.
posted by JHarris at 8:59 PM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

Dammit Yowser. Sigh, never mind.
posted by JHarris at 9:12 PM on September 15, 2014

I'm not into sports and never have been. I'm lazy by inclination. But in my early teens I got into running, and have returned to it, on and off, ever since. I know when I'm a couple of weeks into my routine I begin to love it. I look forward to it, I love it while I'm running, and I feel great afterwards. I process a lot of negative shit out there on the footpaths and in the parks. And I hate missing a day.

But if I let it drift, it is just so damn difficult to get back into it.

But this: I think that no matter what I do in my life, when I finish that run, I've made an investment in myself for that day. And I bank that.

This, I'm finding very inspiring.
posted by misterbee at 10:47 PM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

I've gotten into running in the last year. I like it and I like the way it makes me feel, but I've never been able to achieve the feeling of detachment - of mind-body disconnect - that Dern and others talk about. I'm almost always thinking about the run - about how far I have to go and how I'm going to get through it. I don't really know how to get out of my head when I'm going something moderately painful or grueling.
posted by eugenen at 10:48 PM on September 15, 2014

Can't do it with running, but can definitely get nice and zoned out while swimming lengths.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 12:21 AM on September 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

, but I've never been able to achieve the feeling of detachment - of mind-body disconnect - that Dern and others talk about.
posted by eugenen at 12:48 AM on September 16

The friend who introduced me to running called it "Disneyland."

To me it is the very best thing about running. No other activity has ever gotten me there as reliably and consistently as running did.

It totally fkn rocked.

I love to ride that bike, swimming is fun, working out in a gym can be fun. Yoga is absolutely great for my mind and my body. But running took me to Disneyland.

But it tore up my knees -- which were/are a mess anyways -- and ankles, I ran way past when I ought to have stopped because I did not want to give up Disneyland.

I miss it.
posted by dancestoblue at 2:00 AM on September 16, 2014

Big Dern fan here. What is it about that guy? Back in the 60s he'd turn up on shows like Bonanza and his weird energy instantly signaled danger.

I really loved King of Marvin Gardens--it showcases the old Marlborough Blenheim Hotel where I spent a lot of time as a kid--but even more so for the performances. Dern is creepily haunting as the delusional Jason Staebler.

There is a scene where Jason goads brother David, played by Jack Nicholson, into running on the beach. David trots a few yards and wheezes, but Jason takes off and for a moment you sense Dern the runner intersecting directly with Dern the actor--Jason is literally running away from reality. It's pretty brilliant and I have to belief it was his, not Rafelson's, idea.

That this interview took place at that time is perfect. Thanks for posting this.
posted by kinnakeet at 3:50 AM on September 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

On the Edge is a good movie about running. Dern is great in it.
posted by OmieWise at 5:02 AM on September 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

Running was the only exercise I actually wanted to do and looked forward to. I was never one of those "always see him running" guys, but I did it fairly regularly and it worked to keep me in pretty good shape. And, it felt good, both physically and mentally. It really was the ultimate "me" time.

Then, I blew-out my T-10/11 disc, and, following the unexpectedly complicated surgery, my doctors declared my running over and done. I've not found anything else to replace running, unfortunately. Nothing else connects with me so simply and deeply. There are moment when I just want to break into a trot and do a quick half-mile, just for old-time's sake, but then memories of the pain of that blown disc crop up and I shut down that desire.

I envy Dern to still be running.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:52 AM on September 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

I loved that. Thanks for posting.

Running is something I just can't live without. I started it thinking I would just get in shape a bit, maybe running 5Ks. Then I thought, okay I'll try a 10K. Then a half marathon. Then a marathon. Now when I don't run for more than a day, I feel off... like something's missing. I'm not myself anymore without running. It keeps me sane. And marathons now provide structure to my life, something to work towards each season.

That feeling of detachment is the best part of long runs for me. It took me a while of running before I got to that point, and it doesn't normally happen on a short run. But I get there each long run, and it's almost like therapy. I hope my body holds up, and lets me keep running until the day I die.
posted by barnoley at 7:15 AM on September 16, 2014 [3 favorites]

The timing on this post is pretty great for me. Yesterday morning, my oldest son and I started getting up a half-hour earlier (than our already pretty early wake-up) to run. We're doing one of those couch-to-5k things. Two days in, and I just don't see it yet. I have friends who run and they talk about how much they love it ... and so far, I'd rather be doing almost anything else. I know it takes time to "break through" and get to the good part, so articles like this are really helpful right now.
posted by jbickers at 8:20 AM on September 16, 2014

« Older "A Complicated Grief"   |   The Last Amazon Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments