Jeff Bridges is one of the great film actors. With a Best Actor win at the 2009 Oscars for his role as a country singer in Crazy Heart plus nominations for his breakthrough role in 1971’s The Last Picture Show, Thunderboltand Lightfoot three years later, Starman in 1984, The Contender in 2000, the Coen Brothers’ epic Western True Grit in 2010 and Hell or High Water (2016), Bridges is a true acting heavyweight. He ensured movie immortality by playing The Dude in The Big Lebowski, one of the most iconic roles in recent film history.
Bridges has not done television for 60 years. Until now. In The Old Man, a high-quality new seven-part Disney+ series, Bridges plays a grizzled former CIA operative who absconded from the service and has been living off grid for 30 years. When an assassin comes for him and the FBI close in, he uses all his old tricks to go on the run – determined to maintain contact with his daughter. If the on-screen survival story is dramatic, Bridges also faced one of his own during filming when he caught Covid whilst undergoing treatment for cancer.
The Big Issue: The last time you appeared as a regular in a television series was 60 years ago, in Sea Hunt and The Lloyd Bridges Show, both alongside your father. What took you so long?
Jeff Bridges: I resisted doing TV for a number of reasons. My father, Lloyd Bridges, had done several TV shows. Probably his most famous one was Sea Hunt in the early 1960s. And I remember how hard he worked on them and how frustrated he was about the time that wasn’t being spent to make the highest quality stuff. But these days, the quality that’s coming off the TV set is so tremendous. I thought, I’d better explore this.
Why was The Old Man the right project for your comeback – it’s got all the action, all the drama, but is also about the need to stay connected to the people we love…
It’s all of those things. And it’s also about consequences – our actions have consequences, even if they happened many, many years ago.