Jeff Bridges Was A Little Confused About His Big Lebowski Casting

There is a Church of the Latter-Day Dude. Although it's "the slowest-growing religion in the world," Dudeism touts non-preachiness and "practices as little as possible." Ordained Dude ministers can preside over special celebrations, sip on White Russians, and, above all, abide. Such is the impact of "The Big Lebowski," Joel and Ethan Coen's 1998 black comedy about a dude and his rug. The title refers to Jeffrey Lebowski (David Huddleston), a millionaire who happens to have the same name as The Dude, played by Jeff Bridges. The Dude takes a beating from thugs due to this mistaken identity (and his rug is ruined), and he is later enlisted to deliver a ransom for the "big" Lebowski's kidnapped trophy wife. There are many players on the stage, including frequent Coen brothers collaborators John Goodman, John Turturro, and Steve Buscemi, but The Dude is the star of the show.

Bridges has enjoyed an illustrious career spanning seven decades, picking up an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for his performance in 2009's "Crazy Heart," among a handful of further nominations, but his casting in "Lebowski" puzzled the "Iron Man" star. Looking back on his career, Bridges told Vanity Fair:

"[The Coen brothers] said, 'Jeff, we've written something for you, man!' I said, 'Oh, wonderful!' I was a big fan of their, you know, 'Blood Simple,' and their early stuff. And then I got the script and I said, 'Wow, you guys must have been spying on me in some of my, you know, high school days or something. This is, you know, wonderful. It's nothing like I've ever played before, I don't know why you've got me in mind!' But I'm sure glad they did, because that's, it's a wonderful film. Those guys are masters, they know how to do it."

... Everything is just, just right.

Jeff Bridges spoke to the calm climate on the "Lebowski" film set, but wondered how Joel and Ethan Cohen managed it, siblings being siblings and whatnot. He loves the movie as much as anyone else, but how did they avoid a daily Gallagher brothers-level blowout? The answer, Bridges explained, is in simply pre-working out their opinions, man:

"Every scene, it's so chock-full with great stuff. They write together, and I remember asking them, I think Joel, I said, 'How do you guys write and direct together? I love my brother Bo but I think, God, I think that would be kind of a nightmare, because we all have these different opinions.' And I think they said something like, 'Well, we work it out in the writing time when we're writing it, so when we actually are there shooting it, we've ironed out all our differences.' And they create a very, very relaxed atmosphere. They're a great audience too, which is helpful for actors. ... It's just a really good movie. And all the characters, and the way everything is executed, from the set design to the wardrobe, everything is just, just right."

The brothers affirmed to Collider that they actually enjoy the process over the result. "We are never going to enjoy watching the movie," said Ethan. It's a shame they can't. "The Big Lebowski" appeals to academics searching for meaning and allegory, and to the unwashed masses who appreciate the film's copious use of swears (averaging 2.4 F-bombs per minute!). But Bridges' Dude, aimless as he is, really ties the movie together.