What Most People Don't Know About Jeff Bridges

Thanks, in part, to the fact that Jeff Bridges comes from a famous Hollywood family — his father was industry icon Lloyd Bridges while his older brother is fellow actor Beau Bridges — he got an early start in the business. He landed his first role back in the '50s before working steadily throughout the '60s, '70s, and beyond. You may have seen him as Jack Baker in 1989's The Fabulous Baker Boys alongside his brother, Beau, or as Jack Lucas in 1991's The Fisher King with the late Robin Williams. And while he nabbed a Best Actor Oscar for his role as Bad Blake in 2009's Crazy Heart, his most memorable character is undeniably The Dude from 1998's The Big Lebowski.

Whatever your favorite Bridges' role, you might also admire the way he faced a cancer diagnosis in 2020. After revealing that he was battling Lymphoma, the star took to his website to send a message directly to his fans. "This cancer thing is bringing on feelings of preciousness, & gratitude, & good old fashion love," he wrote. He also explained that his situation has made him "appreciate" his "mortality, appreciate impermanence," which is why he has "sh** to share" and "now's the time" to do that.

But before you discover all of the things he wants to share, you'll definitely be interested in all of the intriguing facts about this star that you likely weren't aware of. Read on to find out what most people don't know about Jeff Bridges.

Happily married for over 40 years

Back in 1975, Jeff Bridges was in Paradise Valley, Montana, while working on the film Rancho Deluxe. That's when he met the woman who became his wife, Susan Geston, who was working as a waitress. He told People it was "love at first sight," and Country Living notes that although she initially said no when he asked her on a date, they met up days later and fell for each other. When the actor returned to California, she went with him. However, while Bridges was quick to fall in love, he wasn't as quick to propose. In fact, Susan gave Jeff an ultimatum, and he told OWN, "I said, 'Oh God, I can't let this woman go.'" He admitted, "I had this vision of me as an old guy thinking, God, there was that girl from Montana, man, why didn't I marry her." He proposed, and they said "I do" five days later.

As of October 2020, they had been married for 43 years. "We are quite different as people, and we celebrate that rather than making it drive us apart. I respect her wisdom," he explained to People. "I've really been blessed."

The star also noted on OWN, "I realized how wonderful marriage is, and what a great opportunity [it is] ... Saying we're gonna do this together and we're gonna learn and experience all kinds of joyful things and sorrowful things, but we're gonna do it together."

Jeff Bridges is a dad and grandpa

Jeff Bridges and his wife Susan are the parents to three daughters: Isabelle, Jessica, and Hayley, and the grandparents to Grace and Ben, according to People. The actor talked to The Off Camera Show about raising a family while having a career that was "very self-involved." He largely credits his wife, who was a "great mom," for bringing up their kids who "turned out beautifully."

Isabelle also opened up about her parents to People, saying, "They love each other, but they like each other, they spend time together. They make an effort to ask each other questions about what the other is interested in." Isabelle is, in fact, so fond of her parents that she collaborated on a children's book, Daddy Daughter Day, with her dad in 2020, taking the lead on the writing side while he did the illustrations. She told The Hollywood Reporter, "I am so excited to share this book with anyone who wants to have a peek into what it was like to grow up being my dad's daughter, as well as anyone who is curious about creating their own Daddy Daughter Day." As for her dad, he said, "Daddy Daughter Day gave my dear daughter Isabelle and I a reason to spend time together and have an adventure."

That surely suited him perfectly, as he also explained to People, "Time goes so fast, and it's so precious. To spend it with people you love, there's nothing richer than that."

The peaceful star studies Buddhism

If Jeff Bridges seems chill, that's perhaps because he studies Buddhism and meditates, even traveling with a meditation bell. He talked to Rolling Stone about a connection between his beliefs and his career in 2012, referring to a line from The Big Lebowski, saying, "You know, 'I hope you had a good time, it was funny.' So that was one message, that life is funny, you can find the humor in it." He added that Zen Master Bernie Glassman once asked him, "You realize that many people in the Buddhist community look at The Dude as a Zen master?" While that surprised Bridges, Glassman explained that the film "'is riddled with koans' (things that don't necessarily have an answer)."

That's surely why, per Britannica, that same year, Bridges collaborated with Glassman on "a volume of observations and meditations that drew on the epically sanguine 'Dude' persona" called The Dude and the Zen Master.

Bridges also talked to CNN in 2017 about "zen and peace" in the face of the turbulent US political situation at the time, saying, "That's what I think is needed today, to kind of put a check on ourselves and knowing what's right or wrong and being so sure that Trump is an a**hole." While encouraging people to "show up and give a little space for something beautiful to bloom out of it," he noted that "as the Dude might say, 'this aggression will not stand.'"

Jeff Bridges served in the US Coast Guard Reserve

Although Jeff Bridges got an early start in show business thanks to his famous family, he wasn't always in the industry. TogetherWeServed.com explains that the young Bridges was "often a discipline problem at school," so he was "sent him to a military academy his freshman year of high school," which was meant to set him straight as well as "take his mind off of girls." He apparently "hated every minute of military school" and left to finish his education at a public high school. After graduating, he "followed in his brother Beau's footsteps and enlisted in the Coast Guard Reserves with the help of his father's Sea Hunt connections."

According to Military.com, the star served for seven years, and during that time was given less-than-thrilling tasks like "chip[ping] paint off of buoys as a buoy tender." He told AV Club it's the worst job he ever had. He also recalled, "The ceiling is about 7 feet tall and below the racks where you sleep there's three or four racks stuffed into that space and you're out in the ocean at sea in a flat-bottomed boat up against the wind and the swells and everyone is puking." While that sounds pretty horrible, he admitted that "the tough times make great memories when you look back. Like, I'm glad it's in the rearview mirror." Following his time in the military, Bridges left for New York to pursue an onscreen career.

Jeff Bridges and The Dude have a few things in common

Jeff Bridges' most famous role is surely The Dude from the 1998 film The Big Lebowski. A project from "indie film legends the Coen brothers," according to the CBC, the "film that got a mediocre reception at the box office, but later achieved feverish cult status." One of the reasons it's so beloved is because of Bridges' character Jeff Lebowski, "a pot-smoking, bowling-loving, slacker dude."

While Bridges will always be associated with the iconic role, it turns out that the star also related to The Dude. "It reminded me a lot of myself back in [the '60s]. I smoked my share of pot and all that, and the long hair," he told Rolling Stone in 2012. The acclaimed actor continued by explaining that he uses aspects of himself to create his characters, saying, "I do that on an emotional level, but also on a physical level." Adding that how he looks and what he wears is key to his performance, he said that he "work[s] on the exterior and the interior at the same time" which is why "they kind of inform each other." That's surely why it wasn't surprising for him when he "went up to [his] closet to see [his] clothes," and found that they "kind of match The Dude. And we just found all kinds of stuff. Those jelly sandals, some T-shirts that I had." That does, indeed, sound like an epic, Dude-like wardrobe.

This award-winning actor is a musician, too

Although Jeff Bridges is an award-winning actor, he also has a love of music. In 2014, Rolling Stone reported that the star had been spending time "making music with and touring with a backing band called the Abiders." The group's name was a nod to "one of the most memorable lines in Bridges' most memorable movie, The Big Lebowski." However, he had a different moniker in mind. "I wanted to go with 'The Royal We,' another Lebowski reference," but his bandmates wanted to be the Abiders, "so we went with that."

Bridges also told the outlet, "I've been playing music since I was a kid, so there's a good back catalogue." Beyond that, he passed his passion for music onto his daughter Jessie by teaching her to play the guitar. "She took to it quickly," the proud father explained. "Now she writes so beautifully and has some great songs."

As for the star's tunes, be sure to check out "What A Little Bit Of Love Can Do" and "Maybe I Missed The Point." You might also recognize "The Weary Kind," "I Don't Know," and "Fallin' And Flyin'" from the 2009 film Crazy Heart. The movie stars Bridges in his Academy Award-winning role as a country music singer who's fading from the spotlight while also navigating a romance with a journalist played by Maggie Gyllenhaal. Clearly, Bridges has what it takes to be a performer on the big screen and the concert stage.

The acclaimed actor is also a photographer

It turns out that Jeff Bridges is also a photographer. Along with showing off his work on his website, he's held exhibits of his work and released books of pics he's taken on the sets of his films. In 2004, Bridges' first book of behind-the-scenes images, simply titled Pictures by Jeff Bridges, came out, and the description noted that "for more than twenty years, on dozens of film sets, Bridges has perfected his own photography," which resulted in a "fascinating, surprisingly candid body of work began as a personal project, as he recorded the arduous, emotionally intense, evanescent work of the film shoot in books that were privately printed and given as gifts to cast and crew."

Jeff Bridges: Pictures Volume Two came out in 2019, and The Washington Post noted that his photos, which are shot with "a specialized panoramic camera, the Widelux F8" and earned him an Infinity Award from the International Center of Photography, "provide an intimate and rare look into who makes movies and how they do it."

Bridges talked to The Hollywood Reporter about photography in 2019, saying that when it comes to his passion, "the word that comes to mind is Tourette's." He explained, "It started on [his 1984 film] Starman, and I just kept doing it. And you do something for so long, it sort of becomes part of what you do — a habit, as natural as picking up a book or magazine."

Jeff Bridges is a part of the Sleep Club

Jeff Bridges is the famous name behind Sleep Club. No, that's not a movie, even though it could be the snoozy sequel to Fight Club. Instead, it "offer[s] original content, curated resources, and products celebrating what can be achieved with a good night's sleep," AP explained in 2018. The Sleep Club website notes that in our "fast-paced, over-stimulated world ... we are more sleep-deprived than ever." In turn, the quality of life during our waking hours is less than ideal. Sleep Club wants to change that, with Bridges, of course.

The club also features experts — aka the Dream Team — who offer knowledge about everything related to sleeping, dreaming, and waking up. The group includes Dr. Juan Espinoza, an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, HealthTunes writer, and editor Jessica Hagen, as well as Vedic astrologer Carol Allen, among many others.

As for Bridges, he "celebrat[es] curiosity, creativity and philanthropy meant as inspiration for what a healthy Awake Life can attain." You can find the star's "Inspirations," which he hopes will help you "to do some cool sleepin', some cool dreamin', and some cool wakin' up." Beyond that, his Sleeping Tapes "also serve as inspiration for Life is But a Dream, an original digital series." He talked about the project to AP, saying, "For me, sleeping is about dreaming and waking up. The possibilities are limitless and Sleep Club is a sandbox to play with those possibilities." Sweet dreams, indeed!

Worthy causes

Thanks to all that Jeff Bridges has accomplished during his career, the actor could sit back and retire comfortably with the knowledge that he's entertained countless fans throughout the years. But instead, he spends a portion of his time supporting worthy causes. The star is a spokesperson for No Kid Hungry, which "help[s] ensure every kid gets three meals a day and can grow up healthy and strong," and has also worked with the Amazon Conservation Team, which "partners with indigenous and other local communities to protect tropical forests and strengthen traditional culture."

On top of that, Bridges lent his voice to Living in the Future's Past, which, according to Entertainment Weekly, is a documentary that takes "a deep dive into humanity's influence over the impending environmental apocalypse." He told EW, "our movie takes a good look under the hood of humanity. It incorporates elements of evolution, emergence, energy, phycology, to show how these effect our environment, our planet." While he explained that "it's not fear that should drive us to act," he noted that "it's love."

Director Susan Kucera talked about how this project stands out, saying that "lots of documentaries that give us information, and we watch that and when we're done watching we want to crawl into the bed and say, 'I'm sorry I'm human, what can I do?'" Her documentary with Bridges aims to "give people the tools or the keys they need to think about these things."

Jeff Bridges deals in expensive real estate

In 2014, Jeff Bridges and his wife Susan bought a "4-acre equestrian property" in Montecito, near Santa Barbara for $6.85 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. The home boasts "at least five separate structures scattered around the sprawling Spanish Revival estate," according to Variety, including "a historic main house," as well as a guesthouse and pool house, not to mention a carriage house, and "gated horse facility with a tack room and five stalls."

The pair then listed the home for $8 million in May 2019 and eventually sold it to Oprah Winfrey for the same price the Bridges had originally paid for it. Luckily for the couple, they had also "sold a 20-acre Montecito estate for $16 million" in 2017.

Bridges also inherited "an oceanfront home in Malibu," per Celebrity Net Worth, which his parents, Lloyd and Dorothy, bought "for a nominal amount of money in today's dollars" in the 1950s. The house was passed down to Jeff and his siblings, and today, it's thought to be worth $4-6 million. They rent it out for around $16,000 per month and pay very little property taxes on it — "$5,700 a year ... [which] implies that the state of California's assessment of the home's value is $570,000" — due to a "special tax law." To put that in perspective, if the home sold for $3 million, their annual property tax bill would be $30,000, which is a big difference, to say the least.

The Hollywood icon is (reeeally) rich

It's not surprising that Jeff Bridges has a lot of money. Frankly, he's a Hollywood legend who's been in the business since he was a handsome young lad. However, thanks to his many roles and various money-making endeavors, it turns out that he's not just wealthy — he's super-rich. According to Celebrity Net Worth, he has a whopping $100 million.

In 2010, Bridges opened up to the Daily Mail about picking the right roles and said that "saying yes to a film is like that line in The Godfather — they made me an offer I couldn't refuse." But it's not the money that motivates him. He explained that "you just get a feeling when a film is going to be good, and when I get that, I'll do it."

Considering he's earned so much money over the course of his career, you might assume that he's motivated to work more often than not. However, he admitted, "I spend most of my time avoiding work. Honestly, I'm a pretty lazy guy." He explained that because that he's aware of how much "effort it takes once you engage and commit" to a job, it makes it "a lot easier for me to turn down a role than take it." He added, "Also, it takes me away from my sweetheart, from the woman I love, my leading lady." Why spend your days pretending to live a fictional life when your real life is a dream come true and features a swoon-worthy happily-ever-after?