Jeff Bridges was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2023 Critics' Choice Awards on Sunday.
Bridges, 73, took the stage following a heartfelt introduction from Bridges' The Big Lebowski co-star John Goodman.
"Jeff bridges...The man, the legend, the myth, The Dude," Goodman began, referencing Bridge's famous The Big Lebowski character. "It's possible that after all these years, he's tired of the world calling him that. I can imagine the moment people meet Jeff, it's the first thing that pops into their heads. 'Oh, my god. It's The Dude.' Fun-loving, laid-back, high-on-life, easy-going dude."
Goodman took another moment to pay tribute to their iconic movie. "The Big Lebowski came out 25 years ago, and since then, people -- okay, a lot of college kids -- have watched it millions of times. Why? Because it's funny as hell," he said. The crowd applauded, and then laughed at his joke.
"The camaraderie and friendship we felt behind the scenes translated to the screen. All because of Jeff. He set the tone. He was so committed and would deliver his hilarious 'Dude-isms' so effortlessly that no one ever knew where Jeff ended and the dude began. But as many of you know, you cannot define actors by the role they play."
Goodman continued: "In real life, Jeff is only mostly The Dude. There are other parts of him. He's a doting family man. A serious craftsman. He's determined. Focused. Energized by the magic of filmmaking. A man with an insatiable fire in his belly to create good art. And he has. Last Picture Show. Crazy Heart. True Grit. Tron. Fat city. All classics. And that's just a drop in the bucket. He continues to play such a wide range of characters and tends to lose himself in all of them. Brilliant, flawed, rugged, relatable. He disappears into their quirks so seamlessly that we may never know who he really is. But what we do know for sure is that Jeff bridges is a legend."
Following a montage tribute to Bridges' wide-ranging career, the acclaimed actor took the stage for his own speech.
"Thank you, John! Thank you, John. Thank you, critics," Bridges began. "The Dude from Lebowski, he would say, 'This is just like your opinion, man, I'm digging your opinion. Thank you! I love this. What an honor.'" he joked.
Bridges continued by offering a tribute to his late father. "Hey, it's my dad's birthday today. January 15." Bridges said. "I wouldn't be up here without my dad. He's the reason I'm up here. I can remember him loving show biz so much. He loved acting so much. As a kid, you know, I said, 'Dad, I'm not sure if I want to be an actor,' and he goes, 'What are you talking about?' I said, 'painting maybe music.' He said, 'Jeff, don't be ridiculous. Being an actor, they're going to call on you to do all those things that you're interested in. Besides that, get to tell all these wonderful stories from all these different perspectives, people that are alive.'"
Bridges continued with his sentiments of gratitude, saying, "This is a wonderful profession. He is so right. I am so glad I listened to him. The family that I grew up in was so supportive. My mother, some of you guys might have met her, she was the best actor in the bunch. We have Beau, my sister Cindy, so supportive. And I get to be supported by my beautiful, wonderfully talented wife, Sue. We have been married for 48 years. Three incredible daughters, Isabel, Jessie, and Haley."
Bridges then transitioned to a reflection on his impressive career. "I've got to admit I checked out IMDb to look at my stuff, to prepare for the night," he said. "I said, 'Wow. I've made a lot of movies!' My gosh. All these little lifetimes, right? These actors. It's like these little families. Families that are coming together, trying to work together and make something beautiful. Pull up this one-time magic trick of making a movie. Doing our best. So, families, that's kind of what it all comes down to."
Bridges also took time to shout out a few of his most influential colleagues and mentors. "I don't have time to list all these great experiences I've had making movies but I would like to shine the light on two guys who were very influential in my life and my career: Peter Bogdanovich and Bob Rafelson. Peter of course directed the Last Picture Show. Rafelson with his great company, PBS, produced it."
Bridges also added a shoutout to Loyd Catlett. "He's been my stand-in for 70 movies!" Bridges said. "Talk about extended families, he is certainly in there. My gosh. I wanted to say something else and I forgot and I told them not to put that thing up there," Bridges said, referencing the blank teleprompter.
"But telling stories. That's the privilege us actors get to do," he said. "We get to say some wonderful lines. One of my favorite lines was from a movie, Star Man. Playing an alien, who happened to be sort of a critic in a way. He certainly had a strong opinion. Strong opinions about us. He said, 'You know what I love most about you beings is that you are best when things are at their worst.'"
The audience applauded, and Bridges continued, "I love that, because especially in these days, we are going through some tough times, and we could use our best. It makes me, it makes me want to tell the best story, live the best story and we can. Together we can do that. We can make something beautiful."
Bridges finished: "So love you, guys, all of you. Critics, everyone in the room. Great to be in cahoots with you."
Bridges grew up a Hollywood legacy, born on December 4, 1949, in Los Angeles to actors Lloyd and Dorothy Bridges. His older brother, Beau Bridges, is also an actor, and the pair got their start on screen in appearances on their father's shows Sea Hunt and The Lloyd Bridges Show.
His first major film role came in 1971's The Last Picture Show, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Over the course of Bridges' career so far, he's earned seven Oscar nominations for acclaimed performances in films like The Contender, Crazy Heart, True Grit, Hell or High Water and more -- winning once for Crazy Heart in 2010.
He previously won a Critics' Choice Award for Best Movie Actor for Crazy Heart, and was nominated again the following year for True Grit. He also received the Golden Globes' Cecil B. DeMille Award -- their equivalent of a lifetime achievement award -- in 2019.
Bridges has been married to his wife, Susan, since 1977. They share three daughters, Isabelle, Jessie and Haley, and one granddaughter.