Many famous actors don't want their children to follow in their show-biz footsteps. They'll keep their kids away from the set, encourage any pursuit other than acting and actively work to shield them from the entertainment opportunities that could fall into their laps. Jeff Bridges' father was not one of these parents.
By the time Jeff was born, Lloyd Bridges was already a working actor who had appeared in a handful of productions, including a film with Humphrey Bogart. Lloyd was completely in love with his career, and his passion was obvious to his young son. Acting soon became a way for the two to spend time together, and as Jeff tells "Oprah's Master Class," Lloyd loved having all three of his children join him when he was working on a project.
"Whenever there was a part in his movies for a kid or [in] his TV shows, he would always put us up for it," Jeff says.
An Academy Award-winning actor himself, Jeff acknowledges that his late father's influence was a major factor in his own successes in Hollywood.
"I am a product of nepotism," Jeff says simply. "I don't think I would have had the profession that I'm in currently ... if it wasn't for my dad."
Not only did Lloyd help Jeff get into the business, but he also taught his son the techniques and skills to help the aspiring artist hone his craft. "He's my acting teacher," Jeff says. "He taught me how to act, told me all the basics about how to make it seem like it's happening for the first time, do it different ways."
Yet, one of Jeff's biggest professional takeaways from his father came without any verbal instructions.
"The thing I learned from him most, it wasn't something he said to me in words. It was just observing him, and noticing how much fun he was having and how much he enjoyed what he was doing," Jeff says.
Jeff first witnessed this joy as a child, when he appeared alongside his father on the television series "Sea Hunt." However, Jeff couldn't truly appreciate the ripple effect of Lloyd's enthusiasm until they worked together on a few films three decades later.
"I remember him coming on the set and he was just filled with joy. I noticed how that affected everyone. Everyone just got lighter and more relaxed," Jeff says. "And I find when I'm relaxed, my best stuff can kind of get through all my tightness and my fears... It just kind of flows out.
"That's probably the biggest thing I learned from my father, is [that] his approach to life and work is so joyous," he continues. "I tried to follow in his footsteps with that."
Jeff Bridges appears on "Oprah's Master Class" this Sunday, Dec. 6, at 8 p.m. ET on OWN.
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