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#217. Jeff Bridges

While some actors may be prolific, almost appearing to be “in everything” (much like Kevin Bacon), others are equally prolific, but lack the amount of recognition that would normally go to someone who has acted in so much. Part of the reason for this dichotomy may come from the types of films being made. The middle-ground of films are the ones easily forgotten. You would think that a film that is really bad would be forgotten, but instead it feeds on the negativity and becomes infamous, much in the same way that a good film would build its reputation with positive feedback. For those actors who have acted in a plethora of middle-ground films, their performances in outstanding works seem to stand out that much more, even if they aren’t “in everything”. Jeff Bridges is just such an actor and this week’s two movies highlight some of his more iconic roles.

Tron: LegacyTron: Legacy
Year: 2010
Rating: PG
Length: 125 minutes / 2.08 hours

A few of Jeff Bridges’ early roles were pretty forgettable, but there remain a few that stood out and propelled him on his career. In The Last Picture Show (1971), we see him in a “coming of age” role that really set his career. This was the first of his three Best Supporting Actor nominations, the other two being for Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974) and The Contender (2000). However, the one role from his early career that cemented him in popular culture was that of Kevin Flynn in Tron (1982). It’s no wonder that the sequel to this film, made almost thirty years later, would want to use Jeff Bridges again, not only in his aged form, but as he originally appeared in the 1980’s. Sure, he’s appeared in other “geeky” fare like Iron Man (2008) and R.I.P.D. (2013), but nothing compared to that original film that gave plenty of nerds the dream of virtual reality.

After defeating the Master Control Program (MCP) in 1982, Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) found himself trapped in the virtual world of “The Grid”. While he grew older in his creation, his son grew up without a father. Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) eventually and accidentally found his way into The Grid where his father was waiting for him. He then learned that the reason why his father had not come home was that Kevin’s digital twin, Clu, had shut down the I/O port that allowed travel back to the real world. However, when Sam arrived in the world, the portal was reopened. With the unique program of Quorra (Olivia Wilde) in tow, both Flynns head toward the temporarily opened I/O port in a race to return home. That being said, Clu has found this chance to escape a prime opportunity and has put all his forces into obtaining one of the discs that can let him get out.

True GritTrue Grit
Year: 2010
Rating: PG-13
Length: 110 minutes / 1.83 hours

When people refer to a Jeff Bridges character, they more often than not refer to Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski from the Coen Brothers’ 1998 bowling-themed film, The Big Lebowski. This is probably due to the film’s cult status and the fact that Bridges was its titular, lead character. Even if this was his most iconic role, he was nominated for Best Actor three times, none of which was for The Big Lebowski. Shortly after Tron, he was nominated for Best Actor in Starman (1984), but it wasn’t until his career hit a late high in the 2000’s when he actually won the coveted statue. For his performance in Crazy Heart (2009), he won his first and only Oscar. A year later, he was nominated again for a different Coen Brothers film: True Grit (2010). And while he didn’t win in 2010, his character acting truly began to take off from this point onward.

Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) is a Deputy U.S. Marshal with one eye and a nasty disposition. When he’s approached by Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) to avenge her father, he scoffs and tells the young girl that she can’t afford him. After she acquires the money, he hesitantly obliges and the chase after Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin) begins. Along the way, they meet a Texas Ranger by the name of LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) who is also on the trail to capture Chaney for the crime of killing a Texas senator. Soon, Mattie has to catch up to the two men who ditched her and headed into the Choctaw territory where Chaney is rumored to be hiding. After she catches up to them, the two men find the hideout of Chaney’s gang and kill most of its members. However, Mattie soon has her chance to avenge her father directly, but finds herself in a dangerous situation from which only Cogburn can save her.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 brilliant Jeff Bridges performances

Bacon #: 1 (R.I.P.D. / Kevin Bacon)

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One response to “#217. Jeff Bridges

  1. Pingback: End of Act Five | Cinema Connections

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