How The Big Lebowski Was Born | NowThis Nerd

A-way out west, there was this fella, a fella I want to tell you about: A fella by the name of Jeff Lebowski Look, let me explain something to you

I'm not Mr Lebowski You're Mr Lebowski I'm the Dude

So that's what you call me, y'know? The Dude shuffled into theaters 20 years ago today, and in the years since, ‘The Big Lebowski’ has grown into the rug that ties modern cinema together This guy peed on it! Donny, please I’m Andrew, and today, I’m observing ‘The Day of the Dude’ with a look into the film’s origins, its real-life inspirations, and it’s fanatical cult following, all to explain How The Big Lebowski Was Born Y'know, for kids! After the all-time classic ‘Raising Arizona,’ the Coen’s next three films were huge financial disappointments, especially ‘The Hudsucker Proxy’ It cost $25 million, the Coens’ biggest budget yet, and made just under $3 mil at the box office It was a career low point for the brothers, but the Coens abide, I don't know about you, but I take comfort in that

and started working on two new scripts: the first was a stoner detective story set in LA, which the Coens put on the backburner because it was too bizarre, even for them The other became ‘Fargo,’ which is a pretty goddamn strange movie, too, and one of my faves You see somethin' down there, Chief? No, I just think I'm gonna barf Jeez Not only did it nab the Coens their first Oscar, it made some serious bank, and restored the brothers’ confidence in their weirder ideas

Ethan Coen said that if a movie like ‘Fargo,’ can succeed, then nothing makes sense, so you might as well make the movie you want and just hope for the best And the movie they really wanted to make was a surreal tribute to takin’ it easy Sometimes… there’s a film that, well, it’s the film for its time and place Sometimes Aw, hell, I done innerduced it enough Let’s talk about Making ‘The Big Lebowski’ The Coens are big fans of Raymond Chandler, author of detective classics like ‘The Big Sleep’ and ‘The Long Goodbye’ They structured ‘Lebowski’ like one his hardboiled crime novels, where the stoic PI

meets a conga line of kooks and criminals on a deadly journey through Los Angeles Only the Coens decided to replace the whiskey-guzzling Humphrey Bogart badass, with a laid back stoner in jelly sandals who’d much rather down a tasty Caucasian: Mmm Let's talk about The Dude He was based on an indie-movie promoter named Jeff Dowd, who was a member of a radical ‘60s anti-war group called the Seattle Seven, just like the Dude His nickname, his mannerisms, and his love of comfy sweaters made for an extremely likeable protagonist, I mean seriously, who doesn't like the Dude? Nice marmot! but unlike John Goodman and Steve Buscemi, who the Coens wanted from the start, they had no idea who would play the Dude That's freakin' interesting, man

That's freakin' interesting For a while, they were toying with the idea of casting Mel Gibson, but, asshole that he is, he never took their pitch seriously Shame on you! Instead, the Coens turned to the mellowest man in movies, Jeff Bridges You mind if I do a J? It didn’t take much to transform the super-chill star into the Dude He even wore most of his own clothes in the movie, including a shirt he already wore in ‘The Fisher King

’ Bridges did make one sacrifice, though, and it's a doozy During the shoot, Hollywood’s most prestigious pothead abstained from the reefer Let me repeat that: Jeff Bridges was dead sober when he played the most iconic stoner in movie history Far out, man, far freakin' out! He wanted to keep his head clear, so instead, he just furiously rubbed his eyes so they’d be red when the cameras rolled The Dude is an icon, but a man’s only as good as the company he keeps

Lucky for him, the Coens came up with the perfect foil A friend who provides safety, security, Who am I? I'm the guy who's gonna kick your phony, gold-brickin' ass, that's who I am! and who can get you a toe, if you need a toe: Hell, I can get you a toe by 3:00 this afternoon, with nail polish Walter Sobchak The character is kinda the genesis for the whole movie The Coens went to a party thrown by studio exec Peter Exline, who had just bought a beat-up old rug, and bragged over and over about how it ‘tied the room together’ Yeah man, it really tied the room together

That rug really tied the room together, did it not? This rug I had, it really tied the room together It really tied the room together

At the same party, the Vietnam vet Exline told the Coens a story about the time his car was stolen and the only clue was some 8th-grade homework left behind So, he put the paper in a plastic baggie, and drove to the kid’s house to let him know that he crossed a line

You see what happens, Larry? Now, we don’t know if his name was actually Larry, or if he learned what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps, This is what happens, Larry! You see what happens, Larry? You see what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps? but the incident gave the Coens the seed to start their screenplay They wrote the role of Walter for John Goodman, based on his awesome performance in ‘Barton Fink,’ but his look and personality came from another Hollywood legend: Writer/director John Milius Milius is low-key one of the most influential screenwriters ever He wrote ‘Apocalypse Now!,’ ‘Dirty Harry,’ and Quint’s monologue in ‘Jaws You know the one

Another thing about a shark, he's got lifeless eyes Black eyes, like a doll's eyes On top of that, he wrote and directed ‘Conan the Barbarian,’ helped create HBO’s ‘Rome,’ and was even instrumental in forming the UFC The octagon cage? His idea Beyond his professional pursuits, Milius is also a right-wing gun nut who served on the NRA board of directors and got paid for screenplays in the form of antique weapons

When I did the second movie, I said 'I want one of those guns' Clint and a Warner Bros publicity guy arranged that, put a plaque on it and everything Not really surprising, considering this is the dude who co-wrote and directed ‘Red Dawn’ Millius prefers to call himself a ‘zen anarchist…’ Say what you will about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos

but either way, a guy like him stands out in Hollywood, I heard Milius pulled a gun on some executive! I like John, because he says what he thinks, although I sometimes worry that he doesn't think and he made a big impression on the Coens They wanted to cast Milius as Jack Lipnick in ‘Barton Fink,’ but when that fell through, they based Walter on his brash persona, and basically copied his entire look The crew cut, the glasses, the beard, the khakis… Walter’s a composite of a few different people, but when he looks in the mirror, that’s John Milius staring back You think I'm messing around here? Mark it zero! ‘The Big Lebowski’ lives and dies on the strength of its characters, from meek and mild little Donny, to Maude’s strongly vaginal art

I hope you don't mind me using the word 'vagina' The word itself makes some men uncomfortable Vagina Oh yeah? And the best on-screen Jesus since Willem Dafoe You said it, man

Nobody messes with the Jesus! It’s a pretty good story, don’tcha think? Made me laugh to beat the band Parts, anyway But when ‘The Big Lebowski’ came out in 1998, it was actually Roundly Rejected After all, it’s a very complicated movie, Y'know, this could be a lot more, uh, complex, I mean, it might not be just a simple, ah, you know?! What in God's holy name are you blathering about?! Y'know, a lotta ins, a lotta outs, lotta what-have-yous But man, the critics were brutal Gene Siskel compared it, unfavorably, to ‘Kingpin!’ A very bad movie, if you ask me Kingpin was a much funnier film set in the world of bowling Jeff Bridges' character wasn't worth my time There's no heart to him like, say, the Frances McDormand character in Fargo

The Big Lebowski, a big disappointment What are you talking about? Did you and I watch the same movie, Gene Siskel? Did you? This will not stand, y'know, this aggresion will not stand, man He's dead, Andrew Well, I didn't know that Rest in peace, Gene Siskel! Meanwhile, at the box office, ‘Titanic’ was in its 12th consecutive week at number one, I'm king of the world! Woo! and ‘Lebowski’ debuted in a pitiful 6th place

It barely recouped its $15 million budget when all was said and done Where's the freakin' money, shithead?! A budget that would have been even bigger, by the way, if the Rolling Stones didn’t let the Coens use ‘Dead Flowers’ for free, in gratitude for shitting on the Eagles, I hate the freakin' Eagles, man! and replacing their most famous song with a way less farty Mariachi version by the Gipsy Kings Seriously, the Gipsy Kinds do 'Hotel California' so much better than the Eagles that it's actually stupid The movie was another bomb for the brothers, but their next film, ‘O Brother Where Art Thou?’ was a huge hit, and solidified their rep as bankable directors As for ‘The Big Lebowski,’ slowly but surely it grew into a film-nerd staple that today, is quoted just as much as ‘The Simpsons’ or ‘Monty Python

’ It began with midnight screenings and exploded into a massive fandom, now, just like Trekkers, Whovians, and Potterheads, Expelliarmus! ‘Lebowski’ fans even have their own special name: Achievers Yeah, the achievers The Little Lebowski Urban Achievers, yes, and proud we are of all of them Today, there are tons of ways to celebrate the film You could always take ‘The Lebowski Challenge,’ and down a White Russian every time the dude enjoys the tasty beverage onscreen

That's milk and coffee And if you’re not a fan of abiding alone, you should mosey on down to your local Lebowski Fest It started in Louisville, Kentucky in 2002, when a couple of achievers threw a party at their local bowling alley They only expected about 20 people, but over 150 fans showed up, We began to realize that there's a community out there, a very very large community of people, with a feeling towards a fantastic movie that was created by the Coen brothers and it’s been an annual tradition ever since

Lebowski Fests are held in cities all across the country, They feature musical performances, costume contests, unlimited bowling, and even the occasional appearance from Jeff Bridges and the rest of the cast But if a two-day bowling bonanza doesn’t satisfy your devotion, maybe you’ll find the answers in Dudeism, an honest-to-Dude religion based on the film It mixes traditional Taoism with the movie’s laid-back philosophy, and while it’s not taken super seriously, today you can actually go online, get ordained, and legally preside over a marriage, a funeral, even a bowling tournament as a Dudeist priest Sign me the heck up! It's free, too! It's free? That's my favorite word Dudeism has over 350,000 followers across the globe

This cult classic has literally spawned a cult! What mare can you hope for, honestly? We are designed to be in tribes of 100 to 200 people, and to look out for each other To always check in to see what condition my condition is in

What started as a bizarre box-office bomb has grown into a world-wide religion, backed by twenty years of beautiful tradition It's a great film to discover, and there's a lot of support out there for those discoverers For those little urban achievers, or whatever you want to call yourselves

I don’t know about you, but I take comfort in that It’s good knowin’ it’s out there ‘The Big Lebowski’ Takin’ ‘er easy for all us nerds Yeah, well, the Dude abides

Tell me what The Big Lebowski means to you, and how it stacks up against the Coens’ filmography I wanna know your opinions, man, So leave a comment, Please subscribe, And remember: This isn’t ‘Nam This is Youtube There are rules!

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