Jeff Bridges has seemingly lurked on the edges of superstardom his entire career. Time after time, movie upon movie, he’s been turning out great, flawless performances since his feature film debut in The Last Picture Show nearly 40 years ago. Along the way, many of his contemporaries rose to far greater fame and fortune, and plenty of them on half the talent. But there’s something intensely admirable about this man who stayed out of the limelight, honing his craft year in and year out, seemingly content just to have a career at all. He’s hardly got a widespread fanbase, and yet every fan who is devoted to his work is bloody rabid about him (and I count myself as one of the most rabid). Every one of those fans will name a different performance of his that’s their favorite, and each will explain precisely why it’s his best. And they’ll all be right, because with Jeff Bridges, there are no bad performances. Even when working with weak material, he can be counted on to make the most of it.
He’s arguably the greatest actor of his generation, and has never really sold out in the ways that all too many of those contemporaries have found themselves doing in an effort to stay relevant or make a quick buck. Occasionally, he’ll turn up in some Hollywood blockbuster, like Iron Man, and yet even these roles manage to seem as thoughtfully played as when he’s given a true character to dive into. Finally, after all these years, Bridges has been shown some long overdue respect by his peers, who awarded him a Best Actor Oscar for his work in Crazy Heart.
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