"My newest acquisition is the Nissan Leaf and I love it," says Beau Bridges of the plug-in vehicle he drives in Los Angeles, noting that he shipped his Prius to Kauai, where he also has a home — and filmed scenes with George Clooney in "The Descendants," playing cousin Hugh. Sporting long hair and de rigueur Hawaiian shirt as the laid back aging surfer dude, Bridges has two key scenes in the movie, one shot in a local bar he frequents, Tahiti Nui, with locals as extras. "The musician with the white hair plays there every Thursday," he notes, adding that director Alexander Payne accurately captured the laid back vibe of the island that Kaui Hart Hemmings wrote about in the novel on which the film is based.

"It's a very complex story so I don't think I understood the gravity of it and how big it was when I first read it," Bridges admits, but he knew from the start that the script was good and the film had the potential to succeed. "I've maybe only had three or four great scripts come to me that I was fortunate enough to be in, that become classics and people enjoy them for years and years. I see 'High Noon,' that my dad [Lloyd] was in, and that's such a great film. It's fun to know that you're in one of those," says Bridges, who's about to spend six months on Broadway, taking over for John Larroquette as J.B. Biggley in "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying."

Robert Forster has no scenes with Bridges in "The Descendants" but they've gotten to know each other during publicity events for the movie, in which he plays Clooney's father-in-law, whose wife has Alzheimer's disease and his daughter is in an irreversible coma. "Things are crashing around him, and as a retired military guy he's used to having this pretty cut and dried. But he's no longer in control and it's hard to accept," says Forster, more aware than most that roles like this seldom come along. "You can count it on one hand. My career is almost 50 years old and not many are like this. You don't have to make any apologies for it or look around the corner to find something to say."

Forster praises Payne and Clooney for the congenial working atmosphere they set. "It wasn't an exhausting shoot. It was a lot easier than television, which requires that you bang out many more shots than you do on a feature," compares the actor, who will be returning to TV this January in the Fox drama "Alcatraz," playing Ray Archer, a former guard at the titular prison who now runs a San Francisco bar. "I was up in Vancouver several weeks ago and shot four episodes and in December I'll go back and shoot some more." As for his eco-friendly habits, "I don't use as much paper towels as I used to," he says.

Photo: Merie Wallace/Fox Searchlight

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