Photo credit: UniversalYou know him best as The Dude, the iconic slacker in The Big Lebowski, but Jeff Bridges can do a whole lot more than bowl and w...
In classic flicks like Starman, The Fisher King, and Crazy Heart—for which he won an Oscar in 2010—the actor has shown the kind of range, compassion, and depth that led film critic Pauline Kael to call Bridges “the most natural and least self-conscious screen actor that has ever lived.”
And now in R.I.P.D., a playful supernatural buddy cop adventure in theaters today, Bridges goes for broke against a backdrop of special effects. But in “real life,” Bridges is far more laid-back than the character he plays in RIPD—and if it’s even possible, chiller than The Dude himself. Here, the longtime meditator shares how inner peace is possible, even in one of the most hectic industries on earth.
Men’s Health: Your R.I.P.D. character is a Marshall from the 1800s solving supernatural crimes in modern times. You ever feel like a man out of time yourself?
Jeff Bridges: [Laughs] Yeah. Oh, yeah.
MH: Looking at some of your best roles, a lot of them are fish-out-of-water guys that maybe aren’t where they expect to be.
Bridges: That might go for a lot of the characters I’ve played. I certainly feel that way in my own life. I often say, “What the hell am I doing here? Look at this!” It’s that Talking Heads song. [Ed note: "Once in a Lifetime."]
MH: So how do you stay grounded? What’s the key to making it through a day full of surprises, pleasant and unpleasant, as so many days are?
Bridges: I think keeping a good, joyous attitude is good for your mental health and your physical health. Positive energy and a curious mind really keep things going well. Perspective means a lot in life. We all have negative thoughts. You can hook on to those and run with them, and you can be taken away from where you are and the time you’re actually in, which might be magnificent. It’s practice, man.
MH: As a longtime meditator, do you have any advice for guys who want to try it?
Bridges: I’ve been interested in spiritual things since I was a kid, and kind of looked at all different religions and spiritual practices. I always thought, “Oh, I want to try that meditation thing one day.” Eventually, a friend of mine started, and I got introduced to Alan Watts. When I sat for the first time, I kind of realized, it’s not that big a deal. You follow your breath. You’re sitting down. You’re paying attention to your mind. It’s just not that big a deal. You can’t really do it wrong. How do you do it? You just do it. Like so many things in life. You sit there and work with what comes up, and then you let it go. So many of us in life, we resist things we’re not “good” at. We shy away from those things. But meditation is all about the beginner’s mind. No matter how long you’ve been meditating, most of us still have that beginner’s mind, and that’s a good thing. It means there’s always room for growth and possibility. I like that.
MH: You seem to be a pillar of commitment. You’ve been acting all your life. You’ve been married for 35 years. This is something a lot of men struggle with. What’s the key to commitment?
Bridges: Well, you just keep at it. I heard a great slogan from Jack Canfield the other day. He told me, “You can never get it wrong because it never gets done.” I kind of like that. Life has everything to do with commitment. A lot of times, people hit a wall. In marriage, you say, “I’m out of here.” But everything is workable. It’s how you get it set in your mind. You can work with the hand you’ve been dealt, no matter where you are, no matter what it is. So why not be committed?
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