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Ringside Report Puts The Spotlight on Jeff Bridges


By Geoffrey Huchel

Could Jeff Bridges be one of the greatest actors of all time? I think so, and I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that. The actor has had such an astonishing career portraying a variety of roles with tremendous versatility and range. Bridges comes from a prominent acting family. He is the son of legendary actor Lloyd Bridges (1913-1998) and actress Dorothy Bridges (1915-2009), and is the younger brother of actor Beau Bridges. He also has a younger sister, Lucinda.

When he was just two years old he appeared with his brother in the film THE COMPANY SHE KEEPS (1951). During his youth, he and his brother made appearances on their father’s show, SEA HUNT (1958) and the anthology series, THE LLOYD BRIDGES SHOW (1962). Bridges would continue making appearances on several television shows including THE LONER (1965), SILENT NIGHT, LONELY NIGHT (1969), LASSIE (1954), and THE MOST DEADLY GAME (1970), before appearing in THE LAST PICTURE SHOW (1971), with Timothy Bottoms and Cybill Shepherd, for which he garnered an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.

He co-starred in the critically acclaimed boxing film FAT CITY (1972), directed by John Huston. He received another Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for the comedy THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT (1974), starring Clint Eastwood, Geoffrey Lewis and Catherine Bach. His next film was the romantic comedy RANCHO DELUXE (1975), starring Sam Waterston and Elizabeth Ashley. Following RANCHO DELUXE, Bridges appeared with Andy Griffith, Donald Pleasance and Blythe Danner in HEARTS OF THE WEST (1975), and STAY HUNGRY (1976), starring Sally Field and Arnold Schwarzenegger. In his next film, he starred as Jack Prescott, in KING KONG (1976), opposite Jessica Lange. The film was a commercial success, earning $90 million worldwide, and won an Academy Award for special effects

Bridges lent his voice as Prince Lir, in the animated THE LAST UNICORN (1982), also featuring the voices of Mia Farrow, Angela Lansbury and Christopher Lee. His next role would be one of his better-known roles, playing video game programmer Kevin Flynn in the sci-fi action film TRON (1982). The same year he appeared in the comedy KISS ME GOODBYE (1982), with Sally Field and James Caan. He received another Oscar nomination, this time for best Actor in a Leading Role for playing an alien in STARMAN (1984) opposite Karen Allen. He was also praised for AGAINST ALL ODDS (1984) and the thriller JAGGED EDGE (1985), also starring Glenn Close. His next role was as Turner Kendall in the mystery film THE MORNING AFTER (1986), with Jane Fonda.

For 1989’s THE FABULOUS BAKER BOYS, Bridges starred alongside his brother to play struggling musicians, Jack and Frank Baker. Michelle Pfeiffer also stars as Susie Diamond, the former escort turned singer who is hired to put new life into their act. His portrayal of Jack Baker, the loner with an icy exterior is played to perfection. Through his performance we also see the character’s softer side, especially to his dog, and the neighbor girl who looks up to him. BAKER BOYS is one of my personal favorites of Bridges’ films and I think he should’ve received an Oscar nomination for his performance.

Throughout the 1990s Bridges turned in performances in THE FISHER KING (1991), opposite Robin Williams, FEARLESS (1993), with Isabella Rosselini, WILD BILL (1995), with Ellen Barkin and William Hurt, WHITE SQUALL (1996), featuring Scott Wolf and Ryan Phillippe, and THE MIRROR HAS TWO FACES (1996), with Barbra Streisand. But it is perhaps his next role that he is most famous for, Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski, in THE BIG LEBOWSKI (1998). The film was a disappointment at the box office, receiving mixed reviews, but over time has become a cult favorite. The film also starred Julianne Moore and John Goodman. Bridges finished up the decade with THE MUSE (1999) with Sharon Stone and Andie MacDowell, SYMPATICO (1999), again starring Sharon Stone, and the thriller ARLINGTON ROAD (1999), with Tm Robbins and Joan Cusack.

For his next role, Bridges earned another Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for the drama, THE CONTENDER (2000), also starring Joan Allen and Gary Oldman. In 2001 he costarred with Kevin Spacey in the sci-fi drama K-PAX. In 2003 he starred in the Oscar nominated SEABISCUIT (2003), with Tobey Maguire and Elizabeth Banks. Bridges finally won an Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his performance in the drama CRAZY HEART (2009), co-starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Colin Farrell. The following year, he starred in the adventure drama TRUE GRIT (2010), with Matt Damon and Josh Brolin. Bridges earned another Oscar nomination for his performance of Rooster Cogburn. The same year, he reprised his role as Kevin Flynn for TRON: LEGACY (2010), playing the father of Garrett Hedlund’s Sam Flynn. The film co-starred Olivia Wilde.

During the past couple of years Bridges appeared in R.I.P.D (2013), with Ryan Reynolds, THE GIVER (2014), with Meryl Streep, HELL OR HIGH WATER (2016) (earning another Oscar nomination) and co-starring Chris Pine and Ben Foster and the recent BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE (2018), with Chris Hemsworth, John Hamm and Dakota Johnson. He is attached to star in the upcoming projects THE EMPEROR’S CHILDREN and SHADOW COUNTRY, both of which are in pre-production.

Bridges is also an accomplished musician. He studied piano from an early age and plays many guitars. He showcased his musical skills in THE FABULOUS BAKER BOYS, playing piano, and has recorded a version of Johnny Cash’s Ring Of Fire with Kim Carnes for THE CONTENDER that played over the opening credits. In 2010 he was among the nearly 80 musicians to sing on the charity-single remake of We Are the World. In 2011, Bridges had signed a recording contract with Blue Note records/EMI Music Group. In 2015 Bridges released a spoken-word album entitled Sleeping Tapes. All the proceeds from the album go directly to his charity No Kid Hungry.

Essential Bridges:

TRUE GRIT (2010)

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