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Children's Health

Jeff Bridges: Hungry for Change

The veteran actor talks about his drive to feed millions of hungry children -- plus his approach to acting, fitness, and staying balanced.
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Ending Childhood Hunger continued...

"There's a huge battery of research that hunger hurts health, development, and the ability to do well in school," Weill says, adding, "If you are not willing to make sure everyone has enough to eat, you are courting some serious moral problems. It's just shameful."

To reach the 2015 goal, the No Kid Hungry Campaign will become 50 unique campaigns, one in each state. The group's plans include building partnerships that support and expand on local efforts to provide healthy food to kids; awarding grant money to organizations that share the campaign's goals; and teaching communities about nutrition and healthy eating.

"Right now, we're in the first phase of a very ambitious program to end childhood hunger," says Bill Shore, founder and executive director of Share Our Strength. "It's an issue that's big enough to matter but small enough to win."

Eating to Fill a Role

Bridges does not waver in his efforts to ensure that kids get enough good food to eat. His own diet, however, is often dictated by the parts he accepts.

"Playing different characters, I have to change my diet for each role," says Bridges. "In each role, I address the physical aspects and the emotional aspects of the character."

What happens when Bridges takes on a role like Crazy Heart's Bad Blake? "Pretty soon you start to swell," he says, thanks to Blake's steady diet of cheap bourbon and cigarettes.

Preparing for the part meant Bridges himself had to go to pot. He put on weight -- generous portions of ice cream helped -- and transformed himself into the cringe-worthy wreck that moviegoers saw onscreen.

The effort paid off. He won an Academy Award for his performance. But the hard work did not end when the cameras stopped rolling: Bridges had to shift gears and lose all that excess weight.

"It doesn't feel good to be overweight and out of shape, but when I'm playing a guy like Bad Blake or The Dude," Bridges says, "I'll turn my governor off." The Dude, of course, is the über slacker he played in 1998's The Big Lebowski, a cult classic comedy directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, known professionally as the Coen brothers.

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