"My father loved doing interviews," he says, leaning his tall frame back in an office chair at PEOPLE'ss New York headquarters.
The son of the late actor Lloyd and his wife, Dorothy, Bridges learned early on to love making movies.
He set out to repay the favor when he optioned The Giver, a 1993 bestseller about teens rebelling against a repressive future society with the help of a wise elder.
"I originally wanted to direct my dad in it," he says.
"But it took so long to get made, I ended up playing his role."
After 62 films and six Oscar nominations (he won in 2010 for Crazy Heart), Bridges, 64, says he's most proud of his kids and his 37-year marriage to Susan, 61: "I have three wonderful daughters – and I give that credit to Sue!"
He shares some lessons he's learned along the way.