The Old Man: Everything About The Jeff Bridges Series

Let's take a look at The Old Man, everything we know about the Jeff Bridges television series that's come out recently

By Rick Gonzales | Published

the old man jeff bridges

The Old Man and Jeff Bridges. It truly is the perfect match and not just because Bridges exemplifies the title so well. But the road to completing the series’ seven episodes that encompass season one was fraught with the two big C’s – COVID and Cancer, neither one doing Jeff Bridges any favors.

TV, FINALLY

Jeff Bridges is no stranger to television. He is the son of Lloyd Bridges, who was famous in his own right not only as a big-time movie actor but one who began his early career on TV shows such as Sea Hunt and The Lloyd Bridges Show. In fact, Jeff Bridges got his first taste of TV series life when he guest-starred on both Sea Hunt and The Lloyd Bridges Show as a 9-year-old kid. The younger Bridges would appear two more times on TV series’, Insight and The Most Deadly Game, both in 1970 then focus the bulk of his career on feature films.

According to Jeff Bridges, he was very reluctant to do TV after seeing the hard work his father went through on his TV series. “I dragged my feet doing TV because my father had done six or seven TV series, and I saw the hard work that he had to put in. So I was a little anxious about that,” Bridges told The New York Times. But an actor knows (or hopes to know) when good material presents itself and Bridges felt like with The Old Man, he found just that. “But I read the script. I said, “Oh, that’s good.” I read the book, and “Oh!” And then I said: “Who’s our team? Who’s the writer? I’ve got to meet with those guys.” And then the cast started to fall together, and I got excited and said, “Oh, I’m on board.”

THE OLD MAN, A NOVEL

The Old Man TV series is based on a stand-alone novel of the same name by author Thomas Perry, who has almost 30 novels to his name. Perry started publishing his books back in 1983 and along with his stand-alone novels has three popular book series – Butcher’s Boy series, Jane Whitefield series, and the Jack Till series.

THAT SPIDER-MAN CONNECTION

The Old Man series with Jeff Bridges attached was announced back in 2019 as FX ordered the pilot. Shortly after, Jon Watts was set to direct the pilot. If Watts’ name sounds familiar, it should. He has directed three of the biggest Marvel movies, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Spider-Man: Far from Home, and Spider-Man: No Way Home. Those three films have combined to bring in over $3 billion at the box office, so getting Watts on board was a big get.

At the same time Watts was added, The Old Man series got another big boost with the additions of John Lithgow and Amy Brenneman. Eventually, Alia Shawkat, E.J. Bonilla, Bill Heck, Leem Lubany, and Gbenga Akinnagbe were added to the cast.

The Old Man was created by Jonathan E. Steinberg and Robert Levine. The duo is responsible for the hit series Black Sails and also Human Target and although it may sound similar to movies that have starred Sylvester Stallone, Liam Neeson, and Arnold, The Old Man isn’t only about macho old guy posturing.

WHAT IS THE OLD MAN ABOUT?

The Old Man tells the story of Dan Chase (Bridges) who has been living in Upstate New York, off-the-grid, with his two loyal dogs for over 30 years. You get an immediate feel for the “old” in The Old Man when he first appears on screen with his frequent nightly urination troubles. Along with Dan’s loyal pets, he also has a special gift of close-range killing, which comes into play early on.

We find out that Dan is an ex-CIA agent and has remained “in hiding” because of some bad business he conducted during the Afghanistan war with the Soviets. Because of that, he had to go underground. But as it is wont to happen, his past catches up with him when an assassin is sent to take him out. The Old Man has other ideas and instead shows the assassin what the true art of hand-to-hand combat looks like up close and personal. Now, knowing his cover has finally been blown, Dan finds himself and his two dogs on the run from shadowy figures.

One of these figures turns out to be John Lithgow, who plays Harold Harper, Dan’s former CIA pal who is now an FBI man-in-charge. If you’ve ever seen John Lithgow in anything, you’ll know what he brings to the table. Lithgow carries a certain gravitas each time we see him on screen. He is always the smartest guy in the room, he can deduce just about any situation, and he is like a dog with a bone when it comes to going after Dan.

CANCER OR NOT, HERE WE COME

In October 2020, Jeff Bridges announced that he was diagnosed with lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. The prognosis, at the time, was “good” but it was a battle he was never sure he was going to win. This caused Bridges to step away from production while he went in for his cancer treatment. The production didn’t stop immediately as there were still a number of scenes that could be completed without Bridges’ presence.

This was the second time The Old Man faced production adversity. The first time came in mid-March 2020 when the COVID pandemic forced the shutdown. The production already had four episodes in the can when the first shutdown hit the series.

ANOTHER BIG “C” TO DEAL WITH

Jeff Bridges was handling his chemotherapy treatment like a champ. He felt he’d be ready to get back to The Old Man in short order. Then COVID decided to knock on his door and what went from dealing with the effects of chemo, turned into a life and death battle with COVID. Bridges ended up in intensive care for five weeks, claiming his bout with COVID “made the cancer look like nothing.”

According to Bridges, he was truly preparing to die. “I really was in the surrender mode thinking…Shift gears here, buddy, because this is the end,” he told The New York Times. Giving up is easy, fighting can be very difficult. But Bridges didn’t give up. He set goals for himself once COVID ran its course. “I had a trainer, Zach Wermers, who was my physical therapist from my illness, and we met three times a week. We had these little goals. The first one said, “Well, let’s see how long you can stand.” And I stand for 45 seconds, and then that’s it.”

His next goal was a doozie. His daughter was getting married, and he was hell-bent on walking her down the aisle without the assistance of oxygen. Goal met. He was also able to enjoy her wedding and even participated in the father/daughter dance. With those goals met, Bridges thought that perhaps getting back onto The Old Man set isn’t a pipe dream anymore.

THE OLD MAN, BACK IN ACTION

When Jeff Bridges finally returned to the set, there were three episodes left to film. As filming commenced, Bridges began to get stronger. He was able to complete the first season but the big question next was, would there be a second season, or was all of his hard work to complete The Old Man for nothing.

Well, fans of the series will be pleased to know that there will be a Season 2 of The Old Man. According to Deadline, the series pulled in some serious numbers and “was the most-watched cable series premiere since January 2021, beating 60 other premium and basic cable dramas, comedies and limited series,” per Neilson data. The site also said that The Old Man “was the most-watched FX series debut on Hulu in its opening weekend, although it did not break out digital streaming numbers.”

These great numbers had FX Entertainment President, Eric Schrier, gushing about the series, saying, “Jonathan E. Steinberg, Dan Shotz, and Warren Littlefield have done a fantastic job with The Old Man, which delivers on the powerful intrigue and breathtaking action of Thomas Perry’s book.” He then gushed even further about the great cast, “The stellar cast led by Jeff Bridges, John Lithgow, Amy Brenneman, and Alia Shawkat is really connecting with audiences and we are excited to get to work on season two with our colleagues at 20th Television and this fantastic team.”

This is fantastic news for fans of The Old Man series. It is also great news for an actor who has been the epitome of legendary actors, Jeff Bridges. Kudos to his battle and victory over cancer and COVID and we are all looking forward to the second season of The Old Man. You can catch the first season on Hulu.