Aging widower Dan Chase lives a quiet life in a small town with his two dogs. For the past few weeks, he’s been a little out of sorts, not sleeping well, and feeling anxious and irritable. Fortunately, spending three decades evading the CIA has given him a keen sense of when someone’s coming to kill him.
Based on the eponymous novel by Thomas Perry, FX’s seven-part thriller The Old Man stars Jeff Bridges as Chase, a former CIA operative who went on the run in 1987 after conducting unauthorized actions against Soviet forces in Afghanistan. Chase and his late wife assumed new identities and tried to live as normal a life as possible, but the shadows of the past have finally caught up with him.
Tasked with tracking down Chase is FBI Assistant Director for Counterintelligence Harold Harper (John Lithgow), who has a great personal stake in making sure Chase is silenced and the work they did together in Afghanistan remains buried in secrecy. While Harper employs all the government assets at his disposal, Chase calls on his ingenuity, experience and determination to stay alive.
Bridges faced a real fight for his life when he underwent treatment for lymphoma in the middle of shooting The Old Man. After a 15-month delay in production, Bridges returned, his cancer in remission, and filming resumed. “FX and all of the team were so considerate and, you know, gave me all of the time I needed to heal and all of the support I needed,” Bridges says. “And then the protocol for when we were still in COVID, and all that protocol that we had in place made me feel very safe and eager to get down to biz, get down to play.”
And get down to biz he does. The 72-year-old Bridges has plenty of fight in him, as Chase has quite a few throwdowns with would-be assassins. “I have always been doomed to fights,” Bridges says. “I really enjoyed all of it. It was really terrific.”
The Old Man is also a showcase for two venerable actors, Lithgow and Bridges, who’ve had tremendous success on the screen for decades.
“I didn’t get to act with Jeff for a long, long time because the entire story is circumstances have kept these two [characters] apart,” Lithgow says. “They were very, very close and very involved in very high stakes and dangerous political and military activity 30 years ago, and they have had to stay apart for various reasons ever since. And the tension of the entire first season is when are these two men finally going to be forced together. … It was a fantastic moment when I finally got to work with him.”
Alia Shawkat, E.J. Bonilla, Amy Brenneman and Gbenga Akinnagbe also star.
The Old Man premieres on FX with the first two episodes Thursday, June 16, at 10pm ET/PT.