By Terry Kelleher
August 10, 1998 12:00 PM

>Beau Bridges

Mad Max

“Even though he tries to stage a hit on his wife with a crocodile, he really down-deep loves her,” says Beau Bridges, offering an insight into “Maximum” Bob Gibbs, the hangin’ judge he plays on ABC’s new series, Maximum Bob (premieres Tues., Aug. 4, at 10 p.m. ET). Based on an Elmore Leonard novel, Bob follows Gibbs’s shenanigans in the courtroom and with his psychic wife (Kiersten Warren) deep in Florida’s swampland. “He’s very politically incorrect; it makes you squirm,” Bridges says of the bullying Bob. “At first you say, ‘I’ve never seen such a character.’ Then you start to see yourself in it.”

But it’s hard to find much of Bridges (The Fabulous Baker Boys), 56, a soft-spoken family man married to wife Wendy, with five children, in the nutty jurist. In real life, the actor remains close to his movie star brother Jeff (The Big Lebow-ski), 48, and is still guided by the memory of his famous father, Lloyd, who died in March of natural causes. “I feel his presence,” Beau says. “[His] spirit will always be with me.” And unlike many of his Hollywood compatriots, Bridges has had little courtroom drama of his own—except for the time he was taken to court for fire damages when his rented house burned down. “It can make you quake,” he says of his sole untelevised court appearance. “Fortunately [my judge] wasn’t Maximum Bob.”