Oscar Actors: Bridges, Jeff–Background, Career, Awards

November 10, 2020
Jeff Bridges Career Summary:

Occupational Inheritance: Yes, father Lloyd Bridges actor

Nationality: US

Social Class: middle

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Screen Image: character actor

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Jeffrey Leon Bridges (born December 4, 1949) is an American actor, singer, and producer. He comes from a prominent acting family and appeared on the television series Sea Hunt (1958–1960) with his father, Lloyd Bridges, and brother, Beau Bridges.

One of the most acclaimed actors of his generation, he has won numerous accolades, including the Best Actor Oscar for his role as an alcoholic singer in the 2009 film Crazy Heart. Critic Pauline Kael wrote that Bridges “may be the most natural and least self-conscious screen actor that has ever lived”.

Bridges earned Academy Award nominations for his roles in The Last Picture Show (1971), Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974), Starman (1984), The Contender (2000), True Grit (2010), and Hell or High Water (2016). Bridges has also starred in commercially successful films such as King Kong (1976), Tron (1982), and Iron Man (2008), along with critically acclaimed roles in The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989), The Fisher King (1991), The Big Lebowski (1998), and Bad Times at the El Royale (2018).

Bridges was born on December 4, 1949, in Los Angeles, the son of actor Lloyd Bridges (1913–1998) and actress and writer Dorothy Bridges (née Simpson; 1915–2009). He is one of four children: older brother Beau Bridges (born 1941), who is also an actor; a younger sister Lucinda; and a brother named Garrett, who died of sudden infant death syndrome in 1948. His maternal grandfather was an immigrant from Liverpool, England.

Bridges and his siblings were raised in the Holmby Hills section of Los Angeles. He shared a close relationship with his brother Beau, who acted as a surrogate father when their father was working.

He graduated from University High School in 1967. At age 17, he toured with his father in a stage production of Anniversary Waltz, and then moved to New York City, where he studied acting at the Herbert Berghof Studio. He also served in the US Coast Guard Reserve as a boatswain’s mate from 1967 to 1975 in San Luis Obispo, California, with a terminal rank of petty officer second class.

Bridges made his first screen appearance when he was almost two years old in The Company She Keeps in 1951. In his youth, Bridges and brother Beau made occasional appearances on their father’s show Sea Hunt (1958–1961) and the CBS anthology series The Lloyd Bridges Show (1962–1963). In 1969, he played Job Corps crew member Cal Baker in the Lassie TV series episode entitled “Success Story”. In 1971, he played the lead role Mike in the TV movie In Search of America. His first major role came in the 1971 film The Last Picture Show, for which he garnered a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.[9] He next co-starred in the 1972 critically acclaimed gritty boxing film Fat City, directed by John Huston. In 1973, he starred as Junior Jackson in The Last American Hero, a film based on the true story of NASCAR driver Junior Johnson. He was again nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his performance opposite Clint Eastwood in the 1974 film Thunderbolt and Lightfoot.

In 1976, he starred as the protagonist Jack Prescott in the first remake of King Kong, opposite Jessica Lange. This film was a commercial success, earning $90 million worldwide, more than triple its $23 million budget, and also winning an Academy Award for special effects.

In 1982, Bridges starred in one of his better-known roles in the sci-fi Tron, in which he played Kevin Flynn, a video game programmer. That same year, he starred in Kiss Me Goodbye, an American romantic comedy film directed by Robert Mulligan, with Sally Field. In 1984, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for playing an alien in Starman. He was also acclaimed for his roles in the thriller Against All Odds (1984) and the crime drama Jagged Edge (1985).

His role in Fearless (1993) is one of his best performances.[10] One critic dubbed it a masterpiece; Pauline Kael wrote that he “may be the most natural and least self-conscious screen actor that has ever lived”.

In 1994, he starred as Lt. Jimmy Dove in the action film Blown Away, opposite Tommy Lee Jones and Forest Whitaker. His real-life father Lloyd Bridges was also featured in the film, playing the uncle of Bridges’ character. The film was not a financial success, managing to recoup $30 million of its $50 million budget at the box office, with its release a few weeks after another explosive-themed film, Speed. On July 11, 1994, Bridges received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to the motion picture industry. The star is located at 7065 Hollywood Boulevard.[12][13] In 1998, he starred as what is arguably his most iconic role, The Dude, in the Coen brothers’ film The Big Lebowski.[9]

In 2000, he received his fourth Oscar nomination, for his role in The Contender. He also starred in the 2005 Terry Gilliam film Tideland, his second with the director (the first being 1991’s The Fisher King). He shaved his trademark mane of hair to play the role of Obadiah Stane in the 2008 Marvel comic book adaptation Iron Man. In July 2008, at the San Diego Comic-Con International, he appeared in a teaser, reprising his 1982 fan favorite role of Kevin Flynn for Tron: Legacy, shot as concept footage for director Joseph Kosinski; this developed into a full 3D feature release in 2010.

Bridges is one of the youngest actors ever to be nominated for an Academy Award (1972, age 22, Best Supporting Actor, The Last Picture Show), and one of the oldest ever to win (winning the Best Actor in 2010 at age 60 for Crazy Heart). Crazy Heart also won him the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Drama and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role.

Bridges received his sixth Academy Award nomination for his role in True Grit, a collaboration with the Coen brothers in which he starred alongside Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Barry Pepper, and Hailee Steinfeld. Both the film and Bridges’ performance as Rooster Cogburn, were critically praised. Bridges lost to Colin Firth, whom he had beaten for the Oscar in the same category the previous year. In 2016, Bridges appeared in the film Hell or High Water, for which he received his seventh Academy Award nomination.

Referring to his career as an actor and his passion for music, Bridges says, “I dug what an actor did, but it took me a while to feel it, to truly appreciate the craft and the preparation. Plus, I was still playing music a lot, and I guess I had a hard time choosing: was I an actor or a musician, or could I be both?”

Bridges studied piano at a young age, strongly encouraged by his mother.  While working on the 1980 film Heaven’s Gate, he often played guitar with his co-star, singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson, between takes.  His character in Crazy Heart, Bad Blake, was later based partly on Kristofferson. In 1982, he voiced the character of Prince Lír in the animated film The Last Unicorn, and in that role sang on two songs, including a duet with Mia Farrow. He released his debut album Be Here Soon on January 1, 2000. In 2005, Bridges, known as “The Dude” in the film The Big Lebowski, showed up at a Lebowski Fest in Los Angeles singing and playing the film’s theme song written by Bob Dylan, “Man in Me”.

On January 15, 2010, Bridges performed the song “I Don’t Know” from Crazy Heart on The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien. In the film The Contender, in which he co-starred, Bridges recorded a version of Johnny Cash’s standard “Ring of Fire” with Kim Carnes that played over the pivotal opening credits. In February 2010, he was among the nearly 80 musicians to sing on the charity-single remake of We Are the World.[20] On October 24, 2010, Bridges appeared at Neil Young’s annual Bridge School Benefit concert and played a set with singer-songwriter Neko Case.

On April 19, 2011, Country Music Television announced that Bridges had signed a recording contract with Blue Note Records/EMI Music Group. He worked with producer T-Bone Burnett and released his second album, Jeff Bridges, on August 16, 2011.  On November 5, 2011, Bridges played Austin City Limits in support of this album.

In 2015, he sang on the album Strangers Again, performing a duet with Judy Collins of the musical tune “Make Our Garden Grow” from Candide by Leonard Bernstein.

In 2015, Bridges released an ambient/spoken-word album entitled Sleeping Tapes.[23] All proceeds from the album go directly to Bridges’ charity No Kid Hungry.[24]

Bridges plays many guitars, including the Gretsch Chet Atkins Country Gentlemen Model G6122-1959.[18]

In 2013, Bridges wrote The Dude and the Zen Master with Bernie Glassman.[25] Bridges found himself at a party with Glassman and Ram Dass and their conversation led to discussing the parallels between “The Dude” from The Big Lebowski and Zen Buddhism.[26] The book was formed from what has been described as a “transcript of a five-day “hang” on a Montana ranch.”

Bridges has been an amateur photographer since high school and began taking photographs on film sets during Starman, at the suggestion of co-star Karen Allen. Since 1980, he began photographing on and off set shots with his favorite camera, a Widelux F8.[28] He published many of these photographs online and published a book in 2003 entitled, Pictures: Photographs by Jeff Bridges.

Bridges narrated the documentary Lost in La Mancha (2002), about the making of a Terry Gilliam retelling of Don Quixote, tentatively titled The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, which would have starred Johnny Depp as Sancho Panza and Jean Rochefort as the quixotic hero. Bridges also narrated the documentaries National Geographic’s Lewis & Clark: Great Journey West (2002, IMAX), Discovery Channel’s Raising the Mammoth (2000), and ABC’s Heroes of Rock and Roll (1979). He voiced the character Big Z in the animated picture Surf’s Up. He also hosted VH1’s Top 100 Greatest Albums of Rock and Roll series in 2001. In 2016, he narrated Dream Big.

Bridges at the 2010 Independent Spirit Awards
Bridges has performed TV commercial voiceover work as well, including Hyundai’s 2007 “Think About It” advertising campaign,[31] and the Duracell advertisements in the “Trusted Everywhere” campaign.[32]

On December 18, 2010, Bridges hosted NBC’s Saturday Night Live; he had hosted the show before in 1983 with his brother, Beau. With the December 18, 2010, episode Bridges beat Sigourney Weaver’s record for longest gap between hosting appearances on SNL (Weaver had a 24-year gap between her first time hosting in 1986 and her second time hosting in 2010, while Bridges had a 27-year gap between his first appearance in 1983 and his most recent one, also in 2010).

Bridges married Susan Geston in 1977.  They met while filming Rancho Deluxe, on a ranch where Geston was working as a waitress.[37][38][39][9][40] They have three daughters: Isabelle Annie (born August 6, 1981), Jessica Lily “Jessie” (born June 14, 1983), Haley Roselouise (born October 17, 1985),[41][42] and granddaughter Grace (born March 31, 2011) from Isabelle.

Bridges has studied Buddhism. He meditates for half an hour before beginning work on a film set.[43] He has learned Transcendental Meditation.

On October 19, 2020, Bridges announced that he had been diagnosed with lymphoma.

In 1984, Bridges and other entertainment industry leaders founded the End Hunger Network aimed at encouraging, stimulating and supporting action to end childhood hunger.[45] He supported President Obama’s initiative to End Childhood Hunger by 2015. In November 2010, Bridges became spokesman for the No Kid Hungry campaign of the organization Share our Strength.[46] Its goal is to present and undertake a state-by-state strategy to end childhood hunger in the United States by 2015.[47] Bridges also supports environmental causes and organizations such as the Amazon Conservation Team.

Filmography

1951 The Company She Keeps Infant Uncredited
1970 Halls of Anger Douglas “Doug”
1971 The Last Picture Show Duane Jackson Nominated — Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
The Yin and the Yang of Mr. Go Nero Finnighan
1972 Fat City Ernie Munger
Bad Company Jake Rumsey
1973 Lolly-Madonna XXX Zack Feather
The Last American Hero Elroy Jackson Jr.
The Iceman Cometh Don Parritt
1974 Thunderbolt and Lightfoot Lightfoot Nominated — Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
1975 Rancho Deluxe Jack McKee
Hearts of the West Lewis Tater
1976 Stay Hungry Craig Blake
King Kong Jack Prescott
1978 Somebody Killed Her Husband Jerry Green
1979 Winter Kills Nick Kegan
The American Success Company Harry Flowers
1980 Heaven’s Gate John L. Bridges
1981 Cutter’s Way Richard Bone
1982 Tron Kevin Flynn / CLU
Kiss Me Goodbye Dr. Rupert Baines
The Last Unicorn Prince Lír (voice)
1984 Against All Odds Terry Brogan
Starman Scott Hayden / Starman Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actor
1985 Jagged Edge Jack Forrester
1986 8 Million Ways to Die Matthew “Matt” Scudder
The Morning After Turner Kendall
1987 Nadine Vernon Hightower
1988 Tucker: The Man and His Dream Preston Tucker
1989 See You in the Morning Larry Livingstone
The Fabulous Baker Boys Jack Baker
1990 Texasville Duane Jackson
1991 The Fisher King Jack Lucas
1992 American Heart Jack Kelson Also producer
1993 The Vanishing Barney Cousins
Fearless Max Klein
1994 Blown Away Jimmy Dove / Liam McGivney
1995 Wild Bill James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok
1996 White Squall Captain Christopher “Skipper” Sheldon
The Mirror Has Two Faces Gregory Larkin
1998 The Big Lebowski Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski
1999 Arlington Road Michael Faraday
The Muse Jack Warrick
Simpatico Lyle Carter
2000 The Contender President Jackson Evans Nominated — Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
2001 Scenes of the Crime Jimmy Berg
K-PAX Dr. Mark Powell
2002 Lost in La Mancha Narrator (voice) Documentary
2003 Masked and Anonymous Tom Friend
Seabiscuit Charles S. Howard
2004 The Door in the Floor Ted Cole
2005 The Amateurs Andy
Tideland Noah
2006 Stick It Burt Vickerman
2007 Surf’s Up Ezekiel ‘Big Z’ Topanga / Geek (voice)
2008 Iron Man Obadiah Stane / Iron Monger
How to Lose Friends & Alienate People Clayton Harding
2009 The Open Road Kyle
Crazy Heart Otis “Bad” Blake Also executive producer; Academy Award for Best Actor
The Men Who Stare at Goats Bill Django
2010 Tron: Legacy Kevin Flynn / CLU 2
True Grit Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actor
2011 Tron: The Next Day Kevin Flynn / CLU 2 Short film
2012 A Place at the Table Narrator (voice) Documentary
2013 R.I.P.D. Roycephus “Roy” Pulsipher
Pablo Narrator (voice) / Professor
2014 The Giver The Giver Also producer
Seventh Son Master Gregory
2015 The Little Prince The Aviator (voice)
2016 Hell or High Water Marcus Hamilton Nominated — Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
2017 Dream Big Narrator (voice) Documentary
The Only Living Boy in New York W.F. Gerald Also executive producer
Kingsman: The Golden Circle Champagne “Champ”
Only the Brave Duane Steinbrink
2018 Bad Times at the El Royale Father Daniel Flynn / Donald “Dock” O’Reilly
Living in the Future’s Past Narrator (voice) Documentary; also producer

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