HOLLYWOOD — After years of sitting idly by while the Dude abided, the Academy Awards finally gave back to Jeff Bridges, with the veteran actor winning his first Oscar for "Crazy Heart." Shortly after receiving Best Actor honors, the easygoing "Big Lebowski" legend greeted the press backstage — and continued the love-in.
Asked to comment on a career that's had plenty of failures and has now achieved the ultimate success, Bridges quoted his most famous movie role. "I've had ups and downs," he laughed, staying as humble as always. "What does the Dude say? Strikes and gutters, man!"
Bridges bowled a strike Sunday night (March 7) thanks to a tailor-made character in broken-down country rocker Bad Blake, a role that had Bridges performing songs onstage in arenas and barrooms alike. "It was the music — that's how I most identified with Bad," Bridges said of what attracted him to the character. "But unlike Bad, he had four great wives he got rid of, and I have a great marriage."
Some Oscar followers have noted the recent rise in Oscar-winning actors (Bridges, Charlize Theron, Halle Berry, etc.) whose movies weren't nominated for Best Picture — implying solid acting but mediocrity elsewhere.
"That's the exciting thing to me, that this award would bring attention to a great movie," Bridges countered, saying that an acting award makes as many people see the film, before admitting, "I was surprised with 10 nominees that 'Crazy Heart' didn't make it — in a way, that's one aspect of what these awards are about, to bring attention to all these great movies we made."
The bottom line, Bridges insisted, is much bigger than Hollywood. "I'm all about getting us together, getting the world healthy," said Bridges, holding his Oscar. "Movies are a way of looking at the way this world could work."
Unlike Bad, Bridges said that it is the love of a good woman that's been able to keep him strong all these years — even though it sometimes seems like he's apart from her more often than they're together. "The first thing that pops into my mind is my wife, my support. She holds my kite strings so I can go out there and then she pulls them back when I come home," he explained. "She pointed out that we've been apart 11 of the last 14 months — so I've been way out there."
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