Following a battle with cancer and COVID-19, the actor built up the stamina to take part in his daughter's wedding.
After being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in October 2020 and battling a bad case of COVID-19 while undergoing chemotherapy, Jeff Bridges was only able to stand for 45 seconds at the time. Understandably, the actor was anxious to figure out a solution ahead of his youngest daughter Hayley’s wedding so he could walk her down the aisle.
"The first goal was how long can I stand up," he told The Independent in a recent interview. “And then it was, how many steps can I take? Oh good. Now I’m going to walk down the hall — all this with oxygen, of course.”
The 72-year-old said to prepare for the August 2021 nuptials, he worked with a trainer to increase the amount of steps he could take and stabilize his breathing while using oxygen assistance. The more preparation he did, the harder he pushed.
"Finally, one day I said, 'Maybe I can do it, you know.' And it turns out I not only got to walk her down the aisle, but I got to do the wedding dance [to Ray Charles’s “Ain’t That Love”],” he said. “That was terrific."
Hayley married Justin Shane in Kestrel Park in Santa Ynez, California.
Bridges said the combination of cancer and coronavirus “exacerbated all these feelings of love for my wonderful family,” which includes his wife Sue, daughters Hayley, Jessica and Isabelle, and several grandchildren. His cancer is now in remission, but Bridges said the five weeks he spent in the intensive care unit with COVID-19 in early 2021 “made the cancer look like nothing. It just kicked my a—.”
“I learnt things during those times that I wouldn’t have learnt in any other way,” he explained before the interviewer asked, “Like what?”
“Oh, well, to dig, man. Dig it all as it’s coming at me. That was the specific thing: dig every little thing. And by dig, I mean, get into it, you know, get into what’s happening in a very rich way, you know. As deeply as you can.”
The Old Man star also spoke about his 45-year marriage to Sue, whom he met in 1974 while filming Rancho Deluxe in Montana. He was starring in the film alongside Sam Waterston; she was working at a guest ranch where the movie was shot.
“It keeps getting better and better, more intense and beautiful. It’s wild. Still here with my girlfriend,” Bridges said when asked about their successful union.
His daughters surely have wonderful role models to emulate.