Jeff Bridges Made A Mental Adjustment To Keep Himself Sane On The Iron Man Set

When you think of where Marvel Studios is today, "Iron Man" seems so quaint. Sure, it fulfills the established prerequisites of superhero movies at the time, but for the most part, the Marvel machine we're so used to today of setting up crossovers or a Disney+ show is minimized in favor of making a great movie in and of itself. Had the origin story of war profiteer-turned-superhero engineer Tony Stark faltered, the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it practically wouldn't exist. You could argue whether that ultimately would have had a positive effect on the industry at hand, but that's a conversation for another day.

Needless to say, there was a lot riding on "Iron Man," given that the confidence in Robert Downey Jr. wasn't exactly high, but now it's hard to imagine the franchise without him. Downey Jr.'s trademark snark and screwball comedy prowess practically made the character a household name. The supporting ensemble of Gwyneth Paltrow, Jon Favreau, Terrence Howard, and Clark Gregg all fell into place nicely as Stark's entourage as he attempts to atone for the sins of his company.

Although Jeff Bridges' Obadiah Stane falls into the trope of "the villain is like the hero, but bigger," the "Big Lebowski" star pulls in a fun performance. What matters is that Stane's antagonistic threat to Stark fits thematically. Bridges had fun working on the movie, but if we're going by his account of what happened, it's truly a miracle "Iron Man" struck gold as well as it did.

I am...*checks rewritten script*

The success of "Iron Man" is commonly talked about as one of Hollywood's most notable success stories. While breaking down the biggest movies of his career for Vanity Fair, Jeff Bridges talked about how much he enjoyed working with Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Jr. by his side. The trio initially wasn't a fan of the original script they had to work with, so being the creatives they were, they decided to create another one in their own image. But when it came time to roll the cameras, a big hurdle was thrown their way:

"Marvel kind of threw out our script that we had been working on and said, 'No, that's no good, it's gotta be this, that.' So there was a lot of confusion about what our script was, what we were gonna say, you know? And we'd spend hours in one of our trailers, going over lines and saying, 'Oh, you play my part, I'll play your part,' exploring how we were gonna do it. Jon would say, 'Oh, I know a writer, let me see, he might have some ideas.' ... Meanwhile, the crew is in the soundstage tapping their feet saying, 'When are we gonna get this thing going?'"

Movies are hard enough to pull off as is, let alone a make-it-or-break-it production that has to pull itself together after weeks of preparation. It's like preparing for a road trip, only to find out on the day of, your car has just tapped out, and you need to find a new means of hitting the road while your passengers sit in the backseat waiting for you to get this thing moving again. Luckily, Bridges had a way of coping with the hectic curveball thrown his way. 

'You're making a $200 million student film, just relax and have fun.'

When faced with the Herculean task of getting "Iron Man" off the ground, Jeff Bridges imagined the potential studio blockbuster as something different entirely (via Vanity Fair):

"It drove me absolutely crazy until I made a slight adjustment in my brain. And that adjustment was: 'Jeff, just relax. You're making a $200 million student film, just relax and have fun.' And that, that kind of did the trick. Because here I get to play with these two incredible artists and just jam, and that's what we ended up doing."

Oh, you're reading that correctly. We talk about movie budgets and box office numbers from the outside all the time, but just think for a second how much $200 million is. Now imagine you were told you're responsible for handling it, and your script had just been rejected. If anything, that would have made me an even more anxious wreck, but I'm glad it worked for Bridges, who has been in the industry long enough to get used to things like production setbacks.

In the end, "Iron Man" speaks for itself, and Bridges had a great time making it. He continued to Vanity Fair:

"For my money, that's the best Marvel movie. I know I'm biased of course. But man, I thought that was, it was a wonderful experience."

"Iron Man" is currently streaming on Disney+.