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Cinema: Jeff's waves have all gone.

Byline: TARA CAIN

JEFF BRIDGES is currently bald.

Which makes him rather difficult to distinguish, because one of the things that has made this four-time Oscar nominee a housewive's favourite is his long, flowing locks in movies such as The Fabulous Baker Boys and The Fisher King.

In fact, it turns out that the star has shaved his noggin for an upcoming role, playing a baddie opposite Robert Downey Jr in comic book flick Iron Man.

For the most part, Jeff covers up his chilly pate with a dashing fedora, joking: "It's a dirty trick. They told me, 'we're all shaving our heads'."

He's referring to the rest of the cast of new animated penguin flick Surf's Up, to which Jeff lends his lugubrious tones. He is The Geek, a chubby surfer dropout who becomes a mentor to a young boarding wunderkind.

"He's kind of a fat penguin," laughs the actor, whose demeanour bears more than a little resemblance to his titular stoner character in The Big Lebowski. "I said, 'can't you give him a little more tone?' I got kind of a kick out of it, though. It was kind of funny.

"You could say he's the dude of penguins," he continues. "They both surf. They're both laidback."

The flick has already been a smash hit at the US box office, despite coming hot on the heels of Happy Feet and March of the Penguins.

Luckily, Surf's Up offers a unique take on the big-screen cartoon format, framing the movie as a mockumentary following the penguins as they compete in a world surfing contest.

After appearing several times on screen as a toddler alongside his thespian dad Lloyd, Jeff was nominated for an Academy Award for his first cinematic role, as an idiotic small town teenager in The Last Picture Show.

And while his perfect visage, happy-go-lucky smile and piercing blue eyes could have led to a lucrative career in romantic comedies, he refused to follow the straight and narrow and instead funnelled his talent into one of Tinseltown's most varied careers.

He was nominated again, this time as Best Actor for 1984's Starman and has since tackled everything from whodunnit (Jagged Edge) to convincingly falling in love with Barbra Streisand in The Mirror Has Two Faces. "My father taught us to approach the work with a lot of joy and a lot of fun," he reveals.

"That's how I like to work. My wife, whenever I go off to work and I'll be kind of anxious, she'll say 'remember, have fun'. Sometimes we do forget."

The 57-year-old has also shown that fame on screen doesn't mean you have to live in the spotlight off it. He has been happily married to his (non-acting) wife for 30 years and the couple have three children.

He amuses himself by taking photos on set - many of which have been published in coffee table books - and playing the ukelele.

Recently though, he has been catching up on comic books for the mega-budget Iron Man, due next summer.

As the dazzlingly monikered Obadiah Stane, Jeff has been getting villainous in one of the few genres he's never ventured into. "It's not your typical superhero (movie)," he proffers almost apologetically. "It's about dealing with weapons manufacturers and the politics of the world.

Star Profile

Name: Jeffrey Leon Bridges. Birthdate: December 4, 1949.

Significant other: He has been married to wife Susan since 1977. They have three children. Career high: He is a four-time Oscar nominee, the best of which are The Contender and Starman. The Big Lebowski is brilliant too. Career low: Even he couldn't save naff gymnastics chick flick, Stick It.

Famous for: Being part of Hollywood royalty. His dad is late actor Lloyd and Beau is his older brother. Words of wisdom: "The dude abides."

CAPTION(S):

BEACH BIRDS... Penguins The Geek and Cody take to the waves in Surf's Up (PG), and a pre-haircut Jeff Bridges (top right) who voices The Geek (far right).
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Aug 10, 2007
Words:663
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