Jeff Bridges Reveals He Was ‘Close To Dying’ While Getting COVID In The Midst Of Chemo Treatments

Jeff Bridges as The Dude in The Big Lebowski
(Image credit: Universal)

From Tron to The Big Lebowski Jeff Bridges has been in such a wide variety of movies that there is probably at least one of his roles that you love. Bridges recently got to see just how many people truly love him when he received an outpouring of support after he revealed he’d been diagnosed with cancer. While undergoing treatment, Bridges also had to deal with COVID, and the actor now reveals that the two things together may have very nearly killed him.

In a new interview with People, Jeff Bridges says that due to the fact that undergoing chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma had seriously damaged his immune system, he had little natural defense against COVID-19. As a result, Bridges spent five months in the hospital fighting a virus that he says was much worse than the cancer. The actor explains…

I had no defenses. That's what chemo does — it strips you of all your immune system. I had nothing to fight it. COVID made my cancer look like nothing. I was pretty close to dying. The doctors kept telling me, 'Jeff, you've got to fight. You're not fighting.' I was in surrender mode. I was ready to go. I was dancing with my mortality.

Jeff Bridges revealed his cancer diagnosis in October 2020 and started his chemotherapy shortly thereafter. He caught the coronavirus in January 2021, before the vaccine was available, so whatever immune system he had at the time, wasn’t primed to handle the virus anyway.

It’s somewhat telling to learn that of the two significant health challenges .The actor says that the cancer, from his perspective, wasn’t all that bad. Bridges kept a very positive outlook throughout the entire ordeal. While the tumor inside him was significant, it never caused him any pain. The same could not be said for COVID, which had Bridges in significant pain. It does explain while we were getting regular updates from Bridges following the cancer reveal, those stopped in early 2021. 

Jeff Bridges was eventually given convalescent plasma, a blood transfusion using blood from people that had already recovered from the virus. That’s what apparently got the actor through COVID. The chemotherapy was also successful in putting Bridges’ cancer into remission.

Now Jeff Bridges can focus once again on his work, which in this case is the new FX series The Old Man. The show is set to debut next month. Bridges is mostly focused on his family, however. The actor is also looking at the very positive side of the entire experience. He continues…

Who would say, 'I'd love some cancer and give me a dose of COVID?' But my ability to receive all the love and give it was just heightened. Everything was turned up in the most beautiful way.

One certainly hopes we would all take something like this from our toughest experiences. Jeff Bridges is certainly happy to be alive and he’s going to appreciate it in a very different way from here on forward.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.