Jeff Bridges' 8 Most Iconic Movie Moments, From 'The Big Lebowski' to 'True Grit'

By
Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Jeff Bridges' acting career began on his famous father Lloyd Bridges' television series, Sea Hunt, in 1958. In the decades since, he has carved out an incredible film career for himself, filled with success in everything from sci-fi and superhero films to romances, musicals and political dramas.

Though he's a man of many talents -- Bridges is also a musician, author and photographer -- it's his acting which will see the 69-year-old icon honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 76th Annual Golden Globe Awards on Sunday. To mark the honor -- given to "a talented individual who has made a lasting impact on the world of entertainment" -- ET is looking back at some of Bridges' most iconic movie moments.

TRON (1982)

Bridges made a mark as video game programmer Kevin Flynn in the 1982 sci-fi fantasy, TRON. "It was a very odd experience," he said while reflecting on the role during a 2010 interview with The Telegraph. "The sets were made of this black fabric with white adhesive tape, and it was shot in black-and-white and then tinted later. I remember being on a black-and-white set all day and then going out into daylight and being amazed by the color."

Almost two decades later, fans were delighted as Bridges reprised the role in the film's sequel, Tron Legacy, in 2010.


Starman (1984)

Bridges portrayed an alien who takes on the form of a woman's dead husband, a role which earned him his first Oscar nomination for Best Actor. Directed by John Carpenter, the film follows his extraterrestrial alter ego during on a road trip with Jenny (Karen Allen) and includes the memorable moment when he receives a crash course in sex education from the Burt Lancaster movie From Here To Eternity.

Bridges recently talked to The Hollywood Reporter about how he endeavored into an alien mindset for the role. "The first thing I do is I look inside myself, trying to figure out which elements of myself coincide with the character," he explained. "You identify certain aspects like that of yourself and then you can magnify them...Then I looked around at my surroundings. My kids were all very young at that time, so I watched how they moved and were learning to walk, and all those kinds of things."


The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989)

Bridges and his older brother, Beau, co-starred in Steve Kloves' directorial debut as brothers and struggling jazz musicians Jack and Frank. The film saw Bridges get hot and heavy with an escort-turned-singer played by Michelle Pfeiffer, who seductively slinks her way across Jack's piano during one steamy performance. (Pfeiffer ended up winning the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama for her performance.)


The Big Lebowski (1998)

This list wouldn't be complete without a nod to the Dude! Bridges' performance as slacker and avid bowler Jeff Lebowski in the 1998 comedy just might be his most legendary role to date. While the Joel and Ethan Coen-directed film disappointed at the box office -- and among some critics -- in the years since, it's become a cult classic, inspiring annual festivals and even a religion called "Dudeism."

Bridges opened up about his character while speaking with ET at the movie's post-premiere bowling party in New York City in 1998. "He does have a moral center, in a sense. I mean, he might be a big ol' stoner, but all he wants is his rug, man," he joked.


The Contender (2000)

Taking on the role of the President of the United States, Bridges earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. The political drama was directed by Rod Lurie and follows the commander in chief as he attempts to replace his dead vice president with a female candidate, played by Joan Allen.

Who did Bridges look to when preparing for the role of a president? His own acting icon dad, Lloyd. "My father always seemed to have a presidential air about him," he once said. "He also shared something with the character that I played which I thought would be a good thing to bring to the film: simply a love of his work. He really adored the acting profession and enjoyed what he did. He got a lot of joy out of it, and his joy was almost contagious."


Iron Man (2008)

The very first installment in the eventual Marvel Cinematic Universe saw Bridges saying goodbye to his trademark long locks and hello to a villainous beard as he took on the role of Obadiah Stane, aka Iron Monger, in Iron Man. Director Jon Favreau's blockbuster had Bridges going head to head with Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark, and he was nominated for a Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Villain for it. (He lost to Johnny Depp's Sweeney Todd.) Stane ultimately met his demise in the film, while RDJ's Stark has gone on to front the Avengers.


Crazy Heart (2009)

As alcoholic country crooner Bad Blake, Bridges finally took home an Academy Award for Best Actor. The film saw him romance Maggie Gyllenhaal's reporter character, who comes to town to do a story on the dive bar performer. Bridges had a vocal coach, whose biggest lesson was "not to overdo it" when it came to singing in the film.

He also enjoyed eating and drinking while getting into character. "This guy was not in great physical shape, so that meant I could eat that second pint of Haagen-Dazs," he told CMT. "While I didn’t work drunk, it meant that I could have that second drink after work, so a little hangover wouldn’t be too bad."


True Grit (2010)

Bridges reunited with the Coen Brothers to play U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn in True Grit, an adaptation of Charles Portis' 1968 novel of the same name (previously made into a film in 1969 starring John Wayne and Glen Campbell). Bridges captivated viewers with everything from his gait to his dialect, playing a cantankerous, one-eyed drunk alongside co-stars Matt Damon, Josh Brolin and Hailee Steinfeld. The movie earned 10 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Bridges.


RELATED CONTENT:

2019 Golden Globes: Everything You Need to Know

Carol Burnett Is First Recipient of Golden Globes TV Lifetime Achievement Award

'The Big Lebowski' Stars Jeff Bridges, John Goodman and Steve Buscemi Reunite 20 Years Later