Every time I see him, I remember "Tucker: A Man and His Dream," a film with Jeff Bridges as Preston Tucker, an automobile manufacturer, who passionately believed that the auto he created was the best in the world.
And every time, yes, EACH time I see Jeff Bridges in a film, I am enthralled by the way he seems to connect with me -- the real me who came from my life, my daily routines, my home -- who bought a ticket and is sitting in the theater . Even though I'm an invisible part of the audience, just a watcher, it's as if he has picked me out, knows me, is telling me, showing me who HE is.
For me, Jeff Bridges, has a power, a presence that no other movie actor has. I get connected with the man of the man he's playing -- it's the man Jeff Bridges himself is, as well as the guy on the screen.
Compare actor Jeff bridges with whom? With Cary Grant, Richard Burton, John Travolta, Richard Gere, Tom Cruise, or others about whom I've written and put on my list of favorite male actors?
My favorite actors invariably leave, in my mind, feelings about the story and the man they portrayed, and no matter how many times I've seen the film, their star qualities -- looks, diction, humor, passion -- whatever is special about the actor, delights, amazes, and touches me again.
Jeff Bridges doesn't belong on that list of mine. Bridges, creates a new man, somehow -- a whole person whom you meet, get to know, follow, like or dislike and gradually get to understand as you absorb the man's confusions, delusions, and what he wants. This creative thing the actor Bridges does is unique, and it's magic. It isn't the movie star, Bridges, that has stayed with me. It's that other man that I've gotten know.
I don't love all the films in which Jeff Bridges has appeared as a character. Actually I haven't seen all his films, but of the ones I've seen -- even when the story, the plot, the environment isn't my cup of tea, I'm interested and involved with the person Bridges becomes.
So who is the real man? He's 62, married to his first and only wife, has three daughters, a couple of homes, six Academy Award nominations and an Oscar in 2009, for his portrayal of Otis "Bad" Blake in Crazy Heart. He's been nominated, and won many other awards, (too many to list here.)
He is what I call "movie royalty." Son of Lloyd Bridges, the actor who starred in a number of TV series, and is best known as Mike Nelson in "Sea Hunt." Jeff Bridges has made more than 70 films, and is very busy right now with making a music album, and shooting another movie.
What made me write about him? I saw the PBS, Master's documentary on Bridges. I am quoting the wife in Arthur Miller's play, "Death of a Salesman," who says: "Attention must be paid."
I want to say -- not what I'd say to Al Pacino, or Robert De Niro, or Dustin Hoffman, or any of the other great actors or my special favorite actors -- I just need to say "Wow, I'm glad I met you."
If you want to remember the films he made that still knock you out, here's International Movie Data Base's (IMDb's) mini bio.
And a clip from the PBS's "Masters" that I loved.