We’re alive, man!
Jeff Bridges did not disappoint when he tagged into the Golden Globes ceremony on Sunday night. Bridges took home one of the awards show’s highest honors, the annual Cecil B. DeMille Award, given to the leading lights of the entertainment industry. Every DeMille winner uses the acceptance speech for something different. Last year, Oprah Winfrey spoke powerfully about the historical struggles for civil rights and women’s rights and how they tied into the #MeToo movement. Bridges used his time to give an epic thank you to his many collaborators over the years — with some boat-themed life advice thrown in for good measure.
As soon as he took the stage, Bridges was all about gratitude. His first thank you went to his wife, Susan Geston, for “45 years of support and love.” Then, as a way of demonstrating how film is “a collaborative art form,” the actor thanked his many representatives and assistants, as well as his longtime stand-in Loyd Catlett (“He’s the thread through the whole deal — starting with The Last Picture Show, man!”). Bridges also thanked his brother and fellow actor Beau Bridges, in attendance at the ceremony, as well as their late father Lloyd Bridges, who was also an actor.
“I’m wearing your cuffs, dad!” Bridges said, turning his gaze toward the sky and showing his wrists. “I’m wearing your cufflinks! They’re your dad’s, too!”
One of Bridges’ most famous performances is the starring role in 1998’s The Big Lebowski, which celebrated its 20th anniversary just a few months ago. In the film, Bridges plays an L.A. layabout who is named Jeffrey Lebowski but goes by the Dude — or “El Duderino,” if you’re not into the whole “brevity” thing. Chris Pine began his introduction of Bridges by addressing him as “Your Dudeness,” and the montage of clips from Bridges’ career was narrated by Sam Elliott, remixing his own introduction of the Dude at the beginning of The Big Lebowski (where “sometimes there’s a man, and he’s the man for his time and place” became “sometimes there’s an actor, and he makes it look easy”). Bridges made sure to thank his other Big Lebowski collaborators in his speech, especially the Coen brothers who produced and directed it. After thanking The Last Picture Show director Peter Bogdanovich for “kick[ing] the whole party off for me, man,” Bridges saluted Joel and Ethan Coen as “true masters.”
“If I’m lucky, I’ll be associated with the Dude for the rest of my life,” Bridges said. “I feel so honored to be a part of that film. Great movie.”
Though Bridges’ speech seemed to ramble, he did have a point to make. In thanking the late Thunderbolt and Lightfoot director Michael Cimino, Bridges brought up a very life-affirming way of looking at his career and success.
“I can remember going into his office the day before we started shooting, and I said to him, ‘Mike, man, I’m sorry but I think you made a terrible mistake. I’m not feeling this guy at all. I feel so inadequate, I’m giving you late notice I know, but please fire me,'” Bridges said. “He looked at me and said, ‘Jeff, you know the game tag?’ I say yeah. He says, ‘You’re it. You’re the guy, you couldn’t make a mistake if you wanted to.’ I said, ‘Alright, that’s a wonderful vote of confidence and a great perspective to look at this thing.’ I used it in that film, and all the other movies I’ve done, as well as my life. I’ve been tagged. We’ve all been tagged, right? We’re all alive right here, right now. This is happening! We’re alive, man!”
Bridges then connected this to an observation by the famous architect and designer Buckminster Fuller about how individuals can affect society.
“Bucky is most famous for the geodesic dome, but he made this great observation about ocean-going tankards. He noticed that the engineers were particularly challenged by how to turn this thing. You’ve got this big rudder, so it took too much energy to turn the ship. So they came up with a brilliant idea: Let’s put a little rudder on the big rudder. The little rudder will turn the big rudder, the big rudder will turn the ship. That little rudder’s called a trim tab,” Bridges said. “Bucky made the analogy that the trim tab is an example of how the individual is connected to society, and how we affect society. I like to think of myself as a trim tab, and all of us are trim tabs. We may seem like we’re not up to the task, but we are, man! We’re alive! We can make a difference! We can turn this ship in the way we want to go, man! Towards love and creating a healthy planet for all of us. So I want to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press for tagging me. I want to tag you all. You’re all trim tabs! Tag, you’re it!”
You heard the Dude. Watch the full speech above.