Jeff Bridges (‘The Old Man’): With a ‘terrific’ story, ‘the more apprehension I have to pull off the magic trick’ [Exclusive Video Interview]

“I have tons of anxiety when I go into a show,” reveals Jeff Bridges, who stars in “The Old Man.” For our recent webchat he continues, “The more terrific the story is, the more apprehension I have to pull off the magic trick. I tend to get in with fellow actors and say, ‘we’ve only a little bit of time to get into this. Let’s get to know each other, so we can relax and let the good work come through us.’ What a great opportunity to jam with all these other artists man. I wish the world could work that way. You’ve got all these different philosophies but everyone’s there to make something beautiful.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.

In the FX drama “The Old Man” Bridges plays former CIA agent and fugitive Dan Chase, who is on the run from the FBI and an old friend played by John Lithgow. Bridges explains, “I play a guy who’s gone AWOL from the CIA for 20-30 years. One of the things I found fascinating with these CIA fellas, or vice cops, is that something I’ve got in common with ’em is we’re actors. But those guys are acting for their lives.”

Bridges grew up in an acting household. From a young age, his parents, Lloyd Bridges and Dorothy Bridges, were encouraging him to pursue the profession (along with Emmy-winning brother Beau Bridges). Jeff admits, “For a long time I was unsure if that’s what I wanted to do. Who wants to do what their parents want them to? I’d done quite a few movies before I decided that I wanted to do this for the rest of my life. I’d tell my dad, ‘I’m not sure if I want to do this acting thing. I like music and I like to paint.’ He said, ‘Jeff, don’t be ridiculous. You will be called to tap into all these different interests and talents.’ I’m so glad I listened to him, he was right.”

With a successful film career spanning more than half a century, Bridges has received seven Oscar nominations. In 2010 he won an Oscar for “Crazy Heart.” However, “The Old Man” marks his first regular role in a television series. The actor says, “It’s a very different experience. I don’t know where it’s going. It’s very life like. You don’t know what’s going to happen the next second in your life. We got the green light for season two but I don’t know quite where it’s going yet.”

During production on “The Old Man,” Bridges was diagnosed with lymphoma. The actor explains, “I had cancer. I went in, had chemo and all that. Then I got a letter from the treatment place that I’d been exposed to COVID. I had no immune system to fight it. The COVID made the cancer look like a piece of cake. I didn’t think I was ever going to be able to work again. Then two years later I drove on the set. It was like we had a long weekend or something. All the same faces and all the same actors.”

Bridges reflects, “That whole experience, that illness, it feels strange to say it, was really a gift. I’ve learnt so many things that I wouldn’t have learnt. It has to do with gratitude and the joy of being alive.”

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