Date of Birth: December 4, 1949
Place of Birth: Los Angeles, Calif., USA
Sign: Sun in Sagittarius, Moon in Gemini
Relations: Wife: Susan Geston; father: Lloyd Bridges (actor; deceased); brother: Beau Bridges (actor); kids: Isabelle, Jessica, Hayley
Education: High school
SON of the late actor Lloyd and kid brother of Beau, Jeff Bridges got his start in the entertainment business at a precociously young age: he was four months old when he made his debut film appearance in 1950’s The Company She Keeps. He swam onto TV screens at 8, in his father’s Sea Hunt series, and made occasional appearances alongside his brother on dad’s early-’60s variety program, The Lloyd Bridges Show. At 22, he won a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his engaging breakthrough role as a Texas roughneck in Peter Bogdanovich’s 1971 coming-of-age drama The Last Picture Show; three years later, he was again singled out by the Academy, for his performance in Michael Cimino’s 1974 caper flick Thunderbolt and Lightfoot.
Bridges’ involvement in a series of quality projects into the mid-’70s – Fat City, Bad Company, The Iceman Cometh, The Last American Hero, and Hearts of the West – kept him basking in the spotlight. But a spate of ill-conceived films thereafter somewhat tarnished his leading-man patina: the execrable 1976 King Kong remake and Cimino’s cinematic disaster of historic proportions, Heaven’s Gate, were just the two most obvious missteps. Bridges, who had flirted with pot, LSD, est, transcendental meditation, Cybill Shepherd, Candy Clark, and Valerie Perrine, finally settled down at 28 with photographer Susan Geston, whom he met on the set of Rancho Deluxe in 1975. They have three daughters.
Bridges blasted out of his career lull with the back-to-back 1984 releases of two highly successful films: the love-triangle suspenser Against All Odds, which paired him in life-threatening romance with Rachel Ward, hit with audiences; and John Carpenter’s Starman, in which he played an Earthbound alien who assumes the form of a recently deceased human to evade capture, garnered him another Oscar nomination. Under full steam, Bridges powered through one of his biggest (and only) box-office smashes, the courtroom drama Jagged Edge (1985), which he followed up with the unsatisfying detective thriller 8 Million Ways to Die (1986) and the murder mystery The Morning After (1986). One of the best showcases for his naturalistic talent of his career, Francis Ford Coppola </people/francisfordcoppola/>’s Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988), positioned Bridges as a visionary car manufacturer beleaguered by corrupt politicians and the machinations of the Big Three automakers.
Now considered one of the most talented but least rewarded movie stars (Janet Maslin of The New York Times has pronounced him “the most underappreciated great actor of his generation”), Bridges’ performances in The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989), the Terry Gilliam fantasy The Fisher King (1991), Fearless (1993), and the well-received indie film American Heart (1993; his producing debut) were loved by critics but snubbed by the Academy. In 1996, he donned dapper academic tweed to play Barbra Streisand </people/barbrastreisand/>’s reluctant lover in the treacly romance The Mirror Has Two Faces. The year 1998 witnessed the release of the Coen brothers’ inspired farce The Big Lebowski, in which Bridges charmed as a hirsute aging hipster who gets mistaken for a millionaire with some serious debts. On the darker side, he played a college professor who suspects his neighbors of singularly unpatriotic activities in the creepy summer 1999 conspiracy thriller Arlington Road. He rounded out the year with roles in the Albert Brooks comedy The Muse and the filmization of the Sam Shepard play Simpatico.
The year 2000 marked an intriguing career move, as the triple Oscar nominee released a moderately well-received debut pop album, Be Here Soon, on the Ramp label, which he co-founded with former Doobie Brother Michael McDonald.