Born and raised in Holland, Pieter Jan Brugge received his degree from the Netherlands Film and Television Academy. He was then awarded a scholarship by the Dutch Ministry of Cultural Affairs to study in the United States at the American Film Institute, where he earned his Master of Fine Arts degree.
His first job within the industry was as line producer for the film My Demon Lover (1987), followed by a stint as unit production manager as well as co-producer on Glory (1989), starring Denzel Washington and Matthew Broderick. He produced such films as The Pelican Brief (1993) before striking it big with The Insider (1999) starring Russell Crowe. For his work as producer on the film, Brugge was nominated for an Oscar, as well as for Motion Picture Producer of the Year by the Producers Guild of America.