The real-life story of Jeff Bridges

Jeff Bridges has had an impressive career, which started in the 1950s. But what do we know about him now? How was Bridges awarded a Lone Sailor Award by the worst employer he had? Why was he initially hesitant to join the cast of The Big Lebowski? Let’s discover the most interesting and little-known details about Jeff Bridges’ life and career.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Susan Geston and Jeff Bridges attend the 76th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 06, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California


ENTER STAGE LEFT - AND ACTION!

Bridges comes from a family of entertainers. In addition to his parents, his older brother Beau and younger sister, Lucille, are also actors! Before Jeff’s birth, his parents lost their son Garrett. Despite being in mourning, the family doctor convinced Dorothy Bridges to try for another baby, and it worked. 

Image Credits: Getty Images / Jeff Bridges


“That was a rough time, but when Jeff was born it sort of brought us together again.” Beau Bridges admitted.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Beau and Jeff Bridges


But his arrival was not easy. In an interview, Jeff admitted, “I just turned my body in the womb, didn’t want to come out.” This put both Jeff and his mother, Dorothy, in distress. Just when it seemed she was about to pass out, however, she sat up and Jeff came out. 

Image Credits: Getty Images / Jeff Bridges


After this dramatic performance, it was obvious that Jeff was destined to be an entertainer, and his family encouraged this. He told Rolling Stone that “We were raised with the idea all the time of putting on a show. It was the most natural thing to me.” So, it’s no surprise that he landed his first acting job while he was still in nappies.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Archive Photos / American actor Lloyd Bridges (1913 - 1998) with his sons Beau (left) and Jeff (right) on a western film set, circa 1975


I SEA YOU’RE IN A BIT OF A PINCH

It’s been widely reported that Bridges’ first acting gig was a role on the TV series, Sea Hunt, but the actor told W Magazine that his first role was a part in a movie called The Company She Keeps, when he was six months old. He elaborated, 

Image Credits: Getty Images / Jeff Bridges


“The scene where she carried me on, I had to be crying. And I was a real happy baby, so my mother instructed Jane to just pinch me to make me cry”.

Image Credits: Flickr.com / Gage Skidmore / Actor Jeff Bridges on the Tron: Legacy panel at the 2010 San Diego Comic Con in San Diego, California


Jeff elaborated that his father, Lloyd, had always been keen to get the kids into show business, but he didn’t know if that’s what he actually wanted. Which is why his first job wasn’t acting. Before officially joining the ranks of the Hollywood elite, Jeff spent seven years in the Coast Guard Reserves, in what he admitted was one of the worst jobs he’d had.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Jeff Bridges


"I was chipping paint when I was in the Coast Guard... We would start at the bow and chip paint, then red lead, and then paint it. ... And by the time you're down at the stern, it's time to start all over again." 

Image Credits: Flickr.com / Gage Skidmore / Jeff Bridges speaking at the 2013 San Diego Comic Con International, for "Seventh Son", at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California


But it can’t have been all bad. In 2011, he was awarded the Lone Sailor Award by the Coast Guard, along with his brother and father, for their service. 


The first role that Bridges auditioned for after leaving the Coast Guard was 1970s Halls of Anger – a school drama about fitting in. The same year, he was offered a role in Love Story, a romance that he turned down in favor of The Last Picture Show. 

Image Credits: Getty Images / Beau Bridges as Captain, Jeff Bridges as Lloyd Bridges/Mike Nelson, Tim Kazurinsky as seaman, Gary Kroeger as Johnson during the 'Cheap Hunt' skit on February 26, 1983


Not only did this performance earn him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting actor, but at 21, he was the youngest actor to be nominated! The actor recalls that his dad, in particular, was very supportive of his and Beau’s careers from an early age. After their father taught them how to fake a fight,

Image Credits: Getty Images / Jeff Bridges accepts Best Actor award for "Crazy Heart" onstage during the 82nd Annual Academy Awards held at Kodak Theatre on March 7, 2010


"Beau devised a great way of practicing, by renting a flatbed truck and driving into a parking lot where we would set up and stage a fight…" the actor shared.

These brothers certainly knew how to handle a crowd!

Image Credits: Albert L. Ortega / WireImage via Getty Images / Beau and Jeff Bridges during Opening Of Jeff Bridges' Exhibition Hosted By In Style: Sales Of "Pictures" To Benefit Motion Picture & Television Fund at Rose Gallery


A FAMILY AFFAIR

Just as his family was important to him growing up, Bridges admits that his greatest joy in life is his own family. He met his wife Susan in 1974 when she was a maid working at a ranch used for shooting one of Jeff’s films. And though it was love at first sight for Jeff, Susan needed a little encouragement. When he finally asked her out, she declined! 

Image Credits: Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images / Ron Galella / Actor Jeff Bridges and wife Suzie Bridges attend the grand opening of Camp Beverly Hills Boutique on June 23, 1977 in Beverly Hills, California


Not only that, but there’s photographic evidence. The actor muses, “I actually have a photograph of that moment, when we met and my wife saying no. Somebody just took a picture of that. I have it.” But when it came time to marry, the tables had turned and Susan needed to do some convincing.

Image Credits: Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images / Ron Galella / Actor Jeff Bridges and wife Suzie Bridges attend Cindy Bridges Wedding Reception on August 31, 1979 at the Bel Air Hotel in Bel Air, California


After three years of dating, she reminded him that they weren’t getting any younger, and that he either had to ask, or she’d move back home to her parents. In 1977, they married, and now, they have three daughters and two grandchildren. 

Image Credits: Getty Images / Jeff Bridges with his family


Family is so important to Jeff Bridges that it informs his work schedule. And though this seems to contradict his impressive filmography, the reasoning is simple: the more he works, the less time he spends with his family.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Jeff Bridges and Susan Geston


THE ROLE THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING

Of course, being selective about the roles he’s chosen hasn’t meant that Bridges has cruised under the radar for his entire career. In fact, he is the face of one of the most adored characters in popular film history: The Dude, from The Big Lebowski.


The laid-back stoner has become synonymous with the actor, who insists that he’s not as chilled in real life. It just appears that way, because as he points out “It’s because I’m an actor. It’s all an act… I do have a lot of tension, a lot of fear, and things like that. I would imagine most people do.”

Image Credits: Getty Images / Jeff Bridges


But that’s not to say there’s not a kernel of truth in the opinions that he’s as laid-back as the guy onscreen. Jeff is into meditation and mindfulness and generally tries to be a calm person. Of course, further appeal lies in the character’s ability to be himself. 


“He is who he is and doesn’t mess around with trying to be something else.” the actor elaborates

Image Credits: Flickr.com / Gage Skidmore / Actor Jeff Bridges / Jeff Bridges speaking at the 2017 San Diego Comic Con International, for "Kingsman: The Golden Circle", at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California.


So how did the iconic role come about? It started when the Coen brothers made contact. “The Coen brothers told me they were writing a script for me. I thought, ‘That’s cool.’ Then I read the script and I was like, ‘Have you been following me around to parties?’ It’s a lot like a younger version of me.”


Thereafter, all it took to get ready was costume designer, Mary Zophres, raiding his closet for inspiration. For those wondering, the Dude’s iconic shoes and t-shirt in the film were sourced from the actor’s own wardrobe! However, he still wasn’t sure the project was a good idea.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Jeff Bridges


“I was concerned about taking that part because it was sort of romancing a stoner. I asked my daughters what they thought, and Jessie, my little girl, said, ‘You’re an actor, you’re pretending.’” he recalls.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Jeff Bridges, Star Of The Upcoming "Kingsman: The Golden Circle" and Susan Geston attend The Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 6, 2017 in Louisville, Kentucky


So, he took the role. But the film didn’t only shape his fanbase – it even inspired the name of his band, Jeff Bridges and The Abiders. Because the dude abides.


BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

Jeff Bridges’ career doesn’t rest solely on his acting – this guy does a little bit of everything. He’s also an accomplished musician and a cartoonist (if you’ve ever seen his website, it’s filled with quirky illustrations) who collaborated with one of his daughters on a children’s book. 


He’s also a philanthropist. For years, Jeff has been a vocal supporter of No Kid Hungry, which strives to provide poor families across the globe with access to food. In fact, many of the profits generated by his photography and music actually go towards the foundation, so he’s not afraid to put his money where his mouth is. 


The actor is also an environmentalist and narrated and co-produced a documentary called Living in the Future’s Past, which deals with various environmental challenges. His motivation? 


“I love the Earth,” he says, “and I want to make it a beautiful place, not only for myself but for my kids, my grandkids, you know, the future.” 

Image Credits: Getty Images / Susan Geston and Jeff Bridges


Before his house was lost in a flood, Bridges was also an avid beekeeper, and he currently insists on keeping his sets plastic-free, to be kinder to the environment. But a project that lies close to his heart takes him behind the camera.


Jeff Bridges is a photographer and has had exhibitions of his work in Spain, Switzerland, Australia, and Italy. In 2013, his work earned him an Infinity Award from the International Center of Photography. He also likes to dabble in painting and pottery.


THE BUSY ROAD TO STARDOM

Jeff Bridges is doing something right – he’s been nominated for seven Oscars, and last year, he received the Cecil B. DeMille Award in recognition of his body of work. In his acceptance speech for the Oscar for Best Actor in 2010, he simply said

Image Credits: Getty Images / Jeff Bridges


“Thank you mom and dad for turning me on to such a groovy profession.” the actor said.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Susan Geston and Jeff Bridges


And though he’s unsure if he’ll ever quit acting, he’s enjoying his various projects, and jokingly admits “we actors don’t have a stop date, so I don’t know about retiring. Sometimes I want to stop acting, but then you get a good script!” 


But what makes for a good script? Something that allows Jeff Bridges to mix things up, “so I’m not playing the same guy over and over again. The audience carries a lot of baggage from seeing an actor in his last film. I mix it up so they are not sure what to expect, so they’re paying more attention.”

Image Credits: Flickr.com / Gage Skidmore / Jeff Bridges speaking at the 2013 San Diego Comic Con International, for "Seventh Son", at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California


Currently, Jeff Bridges is busy working as the star and executive producer of Hulu’s new series, The Old Man, so it’s safe to say we’ll be paying attention.

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