Behind The Scenes


In 2008, actor/musician/philanthropist/photographer Jeff Bridges stepped out of character to document the making of IRON MAN his way.

Jul 2, 2013


Jeff Bridges is truly a Renaissance man. Besides more than five decades of work as an actor, garnering every conceivable laurel from the Academy Award on down, Jeff is also a serious musician and singer-songwriter with several studio albums to his credit, and a humanitarian activist campaigning relentlessly to end world hunger. Though perhaps best known as, The Dude, the nickname of his career defining title role in THE BIG LEBOWSKI, his many iconic characters: Kevin Flynn, Bad Blake, Rooster Cogburn, Obadiah Stane, Wild Bill Hickok, Tucker in TUCKER, Jack Baker in THE FABULOUS BAKER BOYS and Zeke in SURF’S UP have established his indelible legacy as a gift to the history of cinema. The Dude is also an accomplished doodler, a gift in evident display on his entertaining webpage where you might also learn that the man in front of the camera for all those years has a gift behind it too!

Pictured above: Stan looks on as Jeff poses with his Iron Monger suit, Stan Winston Studio supervisor Shane Mahan smiles his approval along with SWS artists Jabbar Raisani and Adam Dotson. Photo by Jeff Bridges.


Jeff Bridges’ photographs are black-and-white portraits of a life in Hollywood. Quirky, beautiful, disarmingly personal, these photos not only capture a tantalizing peak at things non-pros don’t normally get to see, but they also reveal an imagination still as thrilled by the magic of movie-making as any fan, despite literally growing up in the business. An elegant bound collection of his on-set photography PICTURES, is available to purchase online with proceeds to benefit the Motion Picture & Television Fund, a non-profit organization that offers charitable care and support to film-industry workers. Recent BTS photo albums include shots from TRON: LEGACY, TRUE GRIT and CRAZY HEART, but back in 2008, Jeff brought his camera to the Stan Winston Studio for a privileged look at the studio that would forge his Iron Monger suit, as well as Tony Stark’s world-famous metal costume. 

Pictured Above: The Iron Man Suit hangs alone, posed for a test in this image from Jeff Bridges’ BTS photo essay on the making of Iron Man.


In full swing, the Stan Winston Studio was a fantastic laboratory where parts of creatures, robots, and all manner of fauna covered the tables and walls. Looking at the artists assembling the Iron Monger suit and the Mark III Iron Man suit, you might see animal heads in the background, or Frankenstein’s monster or a giant baby head. Simply put, the shop was wonder made tangible with surprises lurking on every shelf and surface.

Pictured above: Stan Winston Studio key artist, Christopher Swift shows off Iron Man’s helmet. Photo by Jeff Bridges.


Jeff shoots with a Widelux camera, which shoots on film, in a wide, landscape format. This gives his portraits a unique look and occasionally results in some distinctive warping, image blurs and distortion which only adds to the fun-house quality of the Hollywood scenes he’s capturing. According to Jeff, “The Widelux is a fickle mistress; its viewfinder isn’t accurate, and there’s no manual focus, so it has an arbitrariness to it, a capricious quality. I like that. It’s something I aspire to in all my work — a lack of preciousness that makes things more human and honest, a willingness to receive what’s there in the moment and to let go of the result. Getting out of the way seems to be one of the main tasks for me as an artist.” – Jeff Bridges from PICTURES.

Pictured above: The distinctive look of a Widelux image, a frame from PICTURES by Jeff Bridges, taken on the set of THE BIG LEBOWSKI.


IRON MAN wasn’t Jeff Bridges’ first trip to the Stan Winston Studios. In fact, he’d been lifecasted at the Stan Winston Studio twenty-four years earlier for a makeup in STARMAN (1984). But that was before Jeff stared carrying around the Widelux, which is just as well, since it would have been hard to see as his alginate lifecast was taken with his eyes open (!), at the insistence of makeup supervisor, Dick Smith. Smith collaborated with Stan Winston and Rick Baker on the ambitious effects for the film. Incidentally, since he was working out of the Stan Winston Studio while in Los Angeles, Smith's assistants for that lifecast were none other than John Rosengrant and Shane Mahan.

Pictured above: Several images from in and around the Stan Winston Studio as photographed by Jeff Bridges and his Widelux camera.


Stan Winston Studios built the massive practical suit, which included a clamshell center hatch. “The Iron Monger suit is 10 feet tall and weighs approximately 800 pounds,” says Shane Mahan. “A gimbal was also built, which allowed us to push it and mimic the actions of the big torso walking.”

Mahan continues: “It takes up to five operators to operate the Iron Monger when you’re using both arms. We have had a couple of instances where we’ve been able to put both arms on and do manual puppeteering to accomplish shots as well. The Iron Monger wasn’t built as a hydraulic character, so its basically human muscle, a gimbal and our stuntmen making it work.” 

Pictured above: The Iron Monger suit, made by the Stan Winston Studio for IRON MAN. Photo by Jeff Bridges.

By David Sanger with quotes from Jeff Bridges’ PICTURES, THE WINSTON EFFECT by Jody Duncan and, “Iron Man: Making Costumes Comfy for Actors and Stunt People” from

See the entire photo essay, MAKING IRON MAN by Jeff Bridges, HERE.

More IRON MAN STUFF from Stan Winston School:

Making of the Mark I "Cave Escape" Suit
Real Iron Man Suit. Real Performance. Creating the Mark III