They are both one-of-a-kind screen actors. Each has a fiercely loyal following of fans. Each won a Best Actor Oscar. And each has played the one-eyed U.S. marshal, Rooster Cogburn.
See also: Bridges talks about his happy marriage.
But even though he grew up in the heart of Hollywood society, Jeff Bridges, 61, never met the legendary John Wayne. Now, as his Oscar-nominated performance in last year's True Grit comes to DVD and BluRay, Bridges says he was careful to avoid cribbing any of Wayne's now-classic mannerisms from the 1969 original.
"I'd certainly seen the film, but I really wasn't interested in getting into the Duke's boots," laughs Bridges. "I had my own set."
Written and directed by the Oscar-winning team of Ethan and Joel Coen, the newer True Grit bears some striking similarities to the first — but this time around, the inclusion of a wider range of quirky characters, the striking cinematography and above all Bridges' rumbling, shuffling performance make for a very different movie experience.
Even with those contrasts, however, given the universe of possible movie projects out there, why go tramping through a film landscape that's been explored, with great success, before?
"I kind of asked that same question to the Coen bothers when they invited me to come on board," says Bridges. "I asked, 'Why do you guys want to make that movie again?' They told me they weren't really interested in making that movie again at all — what they were interested in was in making a movie based on the original book by Charles Portis.
"After I read the book, I saw the reason they wanted to do that, because the book reads like a Coen Brothers script, with the wonderful characters and the twists and turns. That's why I got on board."
The Coens' distinctive formula — if you can call a history of utter unpredictability a formula — has yielded such off-kilter classics as Raising Arizona, Fargo, No Country for Old Men and, of course The Big Lebowski, the film that forever immortalized Bridges as the bathrobe-wearing, booze-swilling, hopelessly delusional slacker known primarily as The Dude.