Born into a Hollywood family in 1949, Jeff Bridges began his acting career as an infant. He broke through with The Last Picture Show (1971), for which he earned his first Academy Award nomination. Bridges went on to star in the popular films Heaven's Gate (1980) and TRON (1982), as well as the cult hit The Big Lebowski (1998). Following decades of acclaimed work, he finally nabbed an Oscar for his performance in Crazy Heart (2009).
Actor. Born Jeffrey Leon Bridges on December 4, 1949, in Los Angeles, California. Bridges was born into a Hollywood family: His father was famed actor Lloyd Bridges, and his mother, Dorothy, was also an actress, which paved the way for both his and big brother Beau's early careers. Bridges made his first big-screen appearance as an infant in The Company She Keeps (1951). His mother and brother also made uncredited appearances in the film. He then appeared in his father's television series Sea Hunt for several episodes, as well as The Lloyd Bridges Show.
Often in trouble at school, Bridges was sent to a military academy for his freshman year of high school in order to teach him discipline. Bridges hated every minute of military school, and returned to a public high school to finish out his education. Despite the attempt to make him focus on his studies, Bridges's academics tended to take a backseat to his creative efforts. At the age of 16, he wrote a song which was used in the 1969 film John and Mary. While still a teenager, he also sold two compositions to music producer Quincy Jones.
Upon his graduation from University High School, Bridges followed in his brother Beau's footsteps and enlisted in the Coast Guard Reserves with the help of his father's Sea Hunt connections. He then headed to New York, where he studied acting at the famed Herbert Berghof Studio. Bridges appeared in the film Halls of Anger in 1970, followed by a role in The Yin and Yang of Mr. Go that same year.
The young actor first earned widespread acclaim in 1971, when he starred in Peter Bogdanovich's critically acclaimed The Last Picture Show. His role as Duane Jackson, one of two best friends coming of age in a sleepy Texas town, earned Bridges an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. It also led to more serious roles in films such as Fat City (1972) and The Last American Hero (1973). However, during this time in his career, Bridges wasn't focused on stardom; he was more interested in his experimentation with drugs and spirituality, and his relationships with the actresses Cybill Shepherd and Valerie Perrine.
It wasn't until he signed on to the 1973 drama The Iceman Cometh that Bridges seriously considered devoting his life to acting. After he turned the film down, he was shamed into doing the picture by friend and director Lamont Johnson. "So I said to myself, maybe I'll do a little experiment," Bridges later recalled. "I hear that if you're a pro you're supposed to do it even if you don't feel like it." Bridges signed on to the film, which rekindled his interest in acting.
Bridges went on to have an illustrious acting career, appearing in popular films such as Heaven's Gate (1980) and TRON (1982), and receiving Oscar nominations for Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974) and Starman (1984). He later starred in The Fisher King (1991), with Robin Williams, and The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996), alongside Barbra Streisand.
In 1998, Bridges experienced a resurgence in popularity with the Coen brothers' cult hit, The Big Lebowski. In the film, Bridges plays Jeffrey "The Dude" Lebowski, a hippie bowler who goes on a strange, drug-induced journey in order to have his favorite rug replaced. The film was not an instant commercial success, but fans were drawn to the comic one-liners and quirky characters. The movie spawned an annual Lebowski Fest in Louisville, Kentucky, which started in 2002.
Bridges's supporting role in The Contender (2000) was well received, earning the actor Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations. In 2010, he received his fifth Oscar nomination and first win, this time for his role in the previous year's romantic drama Crazy Heart.
Bridges continued to regularly appear on the big screen in both leading and supporting roles. He headlined TRON Legacy and True Grit in 2010, earning another Oscar nomination for the latter, and was among the stars of R.I.P.D. (2013), The Giver (2014) and Seventh Son (2014). After doing voiceover work for the animation The Little Prince in 2015, Bridges returned to the big screen in the neo-western heist-crime drama Hell or High Water (2016), for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe for his supporting role.
Bridges has been married since 1977 to Susan Geston. They have three daughters: Isabelle, Jessica and Hayley.
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