For nearly half a century, Jeff Bridges has displayed endless dedication in his delivery of one epic performance after another, firmly cementing him as a pillar in the artistic community he calls home.
Such a span in an industry known for its frequent bouts of friction would seem to whittle down most men, but in Bridges’ case, it’s only made him a blade more sharpened. And while he’s certainly well-known for the many names and faces present in his prolific movie roles, many fans have come to see him less as an actor than as a source of continued creative output, from his soulful and fun music with his band, the Abiders, to his lifelong passion for photography. Yes, we have come to enjoy the fruits of his labor so much, he has become a cultural exclamation point adding much needed context and importance to this era of entertainment. Yet, as dependable as he is to his adoring audiences, Jeff Bridges is in his core a true family man with an endearing love story that justifies why he’s been married to his special lady for forty years. Somehow, when watching his films, it seems we get a glimpse into the type of grit it requires to remain in a relationship that long, an act truly worthy of applause and admiration.
Mr. Bridges is a man of many names, many faces, all well-known, established pillars of the creative environment. He is a blade sharpened over several decades of friction. We have enjoyed the fruits of his labor so much that he has become a cultural exclamation point that adds both context and importance. While he’s well known for his acting, he’s less known as an actor than a source for creative output. His music and photography are regularly enjoyed by us all. He is a dependable to source both for the viewing audience as well as his family. Bridges has been married since 1977. Making it that long in this era is almost miraculous. Somehow watching his films, we can get an idea of the type of gravel it takes to stick in a relationship that long. We applaud you sir. Or maybe your wife for putting up with you for that long.
Certain roles have become etched in the cultural vernacular that we use them almost as a slang, a garnish on otherwise normal conversation. As The Dude, he gave us a cruise-control version of adult life and taught us what a rug can really do for a room, and the consequences of violating it. He’s remade classic western films and added more grit than we thought was possible. He’s battled Iron Man, taken us with him to alternate, digital universes, and now, joins the elite society defending Britain and all that is noble in the sequel to the Kingsman hit; Kingsman: The Golden Circle. His place on the throne of cinematic establishment is unquestioned.
The latest project is a follow up. A sequel that can attract a heavy-weight like Bridges needs to have something special. Bridges is both a student and a master. He loves creating movies just like he loves watching them. After seeing the first one, and being blown away, the opportunity to be a part of the second wouldn’t be missed. However, he’s a tough customer when it comes to rating movies. “Ya know, I’m in the biz so I’m tough” says Bridges. “For me to be impressed by a movie takes a little work. The first film was executed so well that when I was invited to work on the next one I knew it would be great to play with those actors that were also in the film.”
The Director, Matthew Vaughn, is known for his steadfast style and vision. However, Jeff says he is awesome to work with and collaborate with. He continues, “If you have something you think would work, he’s willing to hear that out. He wants to know what the people around him think as well. He keeps the atmosphere loose and full of joy. For me, it was ideal. Bringing joy to your work environment is important.”
The character he plays, Champagne AKA Champ, is the head of “The Statesmen”, the US counterpart to the British “Kingsmen.” Champ, as his name would suggest, forgoes the bubbles of his name sake and exudes a closed fist gruff, perfect for Bridges. Bringing together the looseness of Cowboy culture, a culture his character is decidedly drafted from, and the primp and prowess of British culture, was a fun project to work with. Will we see Bridges continue in this role for a third film in the series? That question remains to be answered, but we are already hearing rumors, so here’s to hoping.
Words by Ben Classen
Photography by John Russo