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Jeff Bridges: Winning 'Seabiscuit'

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In 1938, an undersized, overlooked thoroughbred named Seabiscuit inspired the nation while becoming the most famous racehorse of its era.

Now, a new movie chronicles the Cinderella career of the horse and its team.

Actor Jeff Bridges, who plays a Charles Howard, a compassionate race horse owner, stopped by The Early Show to discuss the movie, "Seabiscuit" with co-anchor Hannah Storm.

The classic underdog story of "Seabiscuit" is based on the best-selling book by Laura Hillenbrand. "It's rare that you get a great story like this one that's true and so heartfelt," Bridges says, "Such a beloved book. It's still on the bestseller list. We had a great script. To be able to keep all that heart, keep all these great stories and put it on the screen is wonderful."

The story embodies an era. The 1930s were hard years for Americans: millions of people were unemployed and many lost their homes. But this underdog horse gave them a different outlook on life.

Bridges says, "They related to this horse. And it gave them hope to see this horse that everybody was saying had seen its day, kind of toss him in the trash heap. But now you look at him, maybe there's hope for us."

The thoroughbred becomes a champion when he is teamed up with hard-nosed jockey Johnny "Red" Pollard, played by Tobey Maguire; talented trainer Tom Smith, played by Chris Cooper; and new owner Charles Howard, played by Bridges.

Those three characters were broken men. Charles Howard had lost his son, Red Pollard had lost his family, and Tom Smith had lost the west as it moved into the modern era. But they find a way to heal by joining together to train and race a horse given no chance of winning.

The actor says, "One of the things the movie talks about is the power of partnership, and how working together we can really realize our dreams."

Bridges, who owns horses at his home in Montana, says he liked the story of "Seabiscuit" a lot. His character was one of the wealthiest men in America and owned the most car dealerships west of the Mississippi.

About his career, he says, "Some of my choices are a little unusual and don't always match what the general public likes. But this one, I loved, and I think most people will like it."

He adds, "It's interesting coming out in the summer when there's a lot of special effects movies, violence and all those things. This movie, there really are no special effects. The effect here is human emotion, which, for my money, that's what gets me most excited."

Some Facts About Jeff Bridges

  • Jeff Bridges was born in Los Angeles, Dec. 4, 1949
  • He is the son of actor Lloyd Bridges (a familiar face on TV and the large screen for over 50 years, until his death in 1998), and the brother of actor Beau Bridges (working steadily, like his Dad, since age 7)
  • In 1950, Bridges made his first screen appearance at the age of four months, playing the infant in Jane Greer's arms in "The Company She Keeps"
  • Jeff Bridges, and his brother Beau, appeared in their father's popular syndicated television series "Sea Hunt" (1957-61) and on "The Lloyd Bridges Show" (CBS, 1962-63)
  • In 1971, Bridges earned a Best Supporting Oscar nomination for his role in "The Last Picture Show"
  • In 1984, Bridges earn his first Best Actor Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of the Earth-bound alien in "Star Man"
  • Bridges is an accomplished photographer and a talented guitarist