Posted on Thursday, August 18th, 2011 by Angie Han
Bowling shirts and bathrobes packed the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City Tuesday night for a cast reunion and screening of The Big Lebowski, in honor of the film’s limited edition Blu-ray release. On hand to discuss the beloved cult classic were musical archivist T-Bone Burnett and stars Jeff Bridges, John Turturro, Julianne Moore, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, each of whom walked on stage to thunderous applause and much yelling of quotes from the film.
Organized by Universal Studios Home Entertainment in conjunction with Lebowski Fest, the evening kicked off with a spirited Q&A hosted by Entertainment Weekly writer and Lebowski superfan Clark Collis before moving into a full-length screening of the cult classic. And yours truly was there in the middle of it all, guzzling watered-down White Russians and singing along to “The Man in Me” with the best of them. Check out video and higlights from the event after the jump. (Spoilers follow if you’ve never seen The Big Lebowski, although if you’ve never seen The Big Lebowski, I’m surprised you’re still reading.)
Livestream is currently airing a video of the entire Q&A on repeat. The video will only be available for the next week or so, so check it out now if you’re interested:
Or, if you can’t be bothered to sit through the whole thing, here are a few highlights from the Q&A. Goodman was perhaps the most enthusiastic — he spent much of the panel referencing lines from the film, much to the fans’ delight. Buscemi and Turturro got a few good lines in as well:
- Buscemi, responding to the rowdy crowd: “First of all, you shut the fuck up.”
- Buscemi, on Donny and Walter’s relationship: “I just couldnt figure out why anybody would want to be [Donny] — until the end, when we’re up against the nihilists and Walter is so protective of Donny. I just found that really moving, and then I got it. It was like the Skipper and Gilligan. That’s what the relationship is.”
- Turturro, on fans of the Jesus: “I actually have gotten a lot of sex mail from women and men about things they want the Jesus to do to them.” (Turns to rest of cast.) “Sometimes you guys are involved too.”
- Turturro, on where the Jesus would be today: “He drives a schoolbus. For a girls’ Catholic school.”
- Turturro, on the Coens’ mom’s reaction to the movie: “Joel’s mother said, ‘I don’t know where the boys come up with these ideas.’”
- Buscemi, on Donny’s death: “I couldn’t believe Donny died. I couldn’t believe [the Coens] did that to me, after putting me in a woodchipper.”
- Goodman, on a possible sequel: “It’ll never happen. Why think about it?”
- Bridges, on the message he wants people to take away from the film: “That it is all just, like, your opinion, man.” (Cue tons of cheering.)
Also present at the event, though not onstage, were Jeff Dowd, a.k.a. the original Dude, and James G. Hoosier, who played the Jesus’ bowling partner Liam in the film. The panel was followed by a screening of the film in its entirety. As you might expect, fans yelled along to their favorite lines and sang along to the soundtrack. All in all, it was a pretty amazing night to be a Lebowski fan. The energy in the room was palpable, and the cast and crew members gamely played along.
The crazy thing, of course, is that when the film was originally released 13 years ago, no one could’ve predicted the movie would ever hit it this big. Though the film received mostly positive reviews from critics, it was a flop at the box office. Over the past decade, however, the cult of Lebowski has grown to the extent that Lebowski Fest draws crowds whenever it hits a new town. The movie has inspired multiple books, countless works of fan art, and a Shakespeare-flavored stage play. There’s even an entire Lebowski-themed gift shop in the West Village — the owner comes into work every day in a bathrobe. Not bad for a movie that only pulled in $17 million when it first hit theaters.
The Big Lebowski limited-edition Blu-ray is now available for purchase. Head over to Amazon for a list of its special features and extras, which includes a booklet of photos taken by Bridges on set.
[Header image courtesy of Diane Bondareff/AP Images for Universal Studios Home Entertainment]