Whatever you may think of the late Michael Cimino's films, he had great taste in actors and, at least in this instance, knew how to talk to them. Here's a story from Jeff Bridges:
"In 1973, Mike Cimino cast me as Lightfoot in the first movie he directed - THUNDERBOLT & LIGHTFOOT. I was just starting out, just a kid. I remember being up in Montana wondering why he had picked me. I didn’t feeling anything like the character I had been hired to play. I felt inadequate, undeserving, confused. The day before shooting began I confessed this all to Mike. I felt sorry for Mike. This was a big break for him, and here he was the day before his movie was to start shooting, and this frightened young actor who had a major role in it was telling him he didn’t know if he could do it.
After not too long a pause, Mike looked at me, and said, “You know that game Tag?” “Yeah,” I said. “Well… You’re it,” Mike told me. He went on to say that this guy, Lightfoot, was no one other than me, that I couldn’t make a mistake, or a false move, even if I wanted to. I’ve never forgotten that bit of direction that that young director gave me on his first movie, that gift of confidence. I’ll often bring it to mind when that feeling of inadequateness, that feeling of not deserving what I’ve been given comes to me. I’ll remember to enjoy the game, this game of ‘Tag.’"