The Bridges family seems to have been endowed with some sort of genetic gift for performing. From the talented father, the late Lloyd, the smiling down-home older son Beau, and the good natured, very talented Jeff, this family rivals any American acting clan.
Born on December 4, 1949 in Los Angeles, Jeff Bridges made his acting debut at the age of eight, in an episode of the television series “Sea Hunt,” starring his father, Lloyd. After a stint in the Coast Guard Reserve and drama studies at New York’s Herbert Berghof Studio, he made his adult film debut in 1970 in the television movie “Halls of Anger,” detailing the struggles of a white student in an all-black high school.
He soon gained acclaim (and an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor) for his performance in Peter Bogdonavich’s The Last Picture Show (1971), as Cybill Shepherd’s boyfriend. He continued to gain momentum with good performances in such films as The Iceman Cometh (1973), The Last American Hero (1973) and Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974), another film in which he was nominated for an Oscar®. Bridges’ good looks and winning smile, made him a hit with critics and audiences alike.
In 1975, while shooting the film Rancho Deluxe, he met his future wife, Susan Geston, who was working as a maid on a dude ranch nearby. They were married the same year. Bridges has three daughters by Susan – Isabella, Jessica, and Hayley. Bridges continued to work, all the while being a devoted father and family man.
Over the course of his still ongoing career Bridges has worked on many films including the remake of King Kong (1976) with Jessica Lange, as the gal the big ape picks up, Somebody Killed Her Husband (1978), in which he had to pretend to fall in love with Farrah Fawcett, and the disastrous folly Heaven’s Gate (1980), which broke United Artists studios and tarnished director Michael Cimino forever.
In the 80’s Bridges appeared in solid roles in films like Starman (1984), Jagged Edge (1985), playing his first villain to Glenn Close’s heroine, and The Morning After (1986), working opposite an alcoholic ex-actress played by Jane Fonda. At the end of the decade, Bridges appeared as an automobile mogul in Francis Ford Coppola’s Tucker:a Man and his Dream (1988) and the critically lauded The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989), alongside his brother Beau. They appeared as a piano playing lounge act that’s upset when a girl (played by Michelle Pfeiffer) joins the group. The sibling dynamics in the script prompted many to compare the onscreen brothers to the lives of the Bridges off screen; but the brothers have always shown themselves to be more cheerleaders for one another than rivals.
As the 90’s began, Bridges continued his winning ways appearing in such films as The Fisher King (1991), opposite Robin Williams, and Peter Weir’s film Fearless (1993), as a survivor of a terrible plane crash who believes he’s indestructible. Also in this decade, Bridges branched into producing in two films, American Heart (1992), in which he played an ex-con trying to straighten out his life, and the Showtime film Hidden in America (1996), which starred his brother Beau as an ordinary American who’s lost his job and his identity. Though not a box office bonanza in line with some of his other work, American Heart was a powerful film and many critics dubbed it the most extraordinary performance to be overlooked that year. He and his brother continue to work together, with their father before his death, and with their grown children. In 1998, Bridges undertook one of his strangest and most talked about roles as “The Dude” in The Big Lebowski, the Coen Brothers follow-up to the Oscar winning Fargo (1996). The rare actor with leading man good looks and a character actor’s perspective on role selection, Bridges appeared in two films in 1999, Arlington Road and The Muse.
In the 2000s Bridges has had key roles in The Contender (2000), and alongside Kevin Spacey in the 2001 psychological drama K-Pax. Seabiscuit appeared in 2003 and he appeared in the first Iron Man in 2008. 2010 saw him tackle the role of Rooster Cogburn in a remake of True Grit and he is currently filming the Kingsman sequel due out in 2017.