“The Big Lebowski” actor, 72, opened up in an interview with People published Thursday about the health difficulties he faced in the last year and a half. After being diagnosed with COVID in January 2021 – before vaccines were readily available to the general public – Bridges spent five months in the hospital with an already-weakened immune system, severe pain and, often, a need for supplemental oxygen.
“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,” he recalled. “I was ready to go. I was dancing with my mortality.”
Bridges added: “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.”
The actor’s medical team found luck with convalescent plasma, a treatment with plasma from donors who have recovered from COVID-19, containing the virus’ antibodies. Bridges slowly began regaining strength and hope, he said.
Bridges first revealed his cancer diagnosis in October 2020, sharing on Twitter that he had been diagnosed with lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system.
“As the Dude would say.. New (expletive) has come to light,” wrote Bridges, referencing his 1998 cult classic “The Big Lebowski.” “Although it is a serious disease, I feel fortunate that I have a great team of doctors and the prognosis is good.”
Last September, Bridges announced his cancer was in remission, writing in a blog post on his website that his “9” x 12″ mass shrunk down to the size of a marble.”
However, “Covid kicked my (expletive) pretty good,” he wrote. Directing readers to another post, the 71-year-old actor shares he was exposed to the virus in January at the place where he received his chemotherapy infusions.
“My dance with Covid makes my cancer look like a piece of cake,” he said.
Now, Bridges said he’s thrilled to be back at work, filming the upcoming drama “The Old Man.”
“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,” he said. “Everything was turned up in the most beautiful way.”
Contributing: Amy Haneline and Cydney Henderson