“All the Dude ever wanted…was his rug back…not greedy…it really…tied the room together,” The Dude mumbled after getting drugged by wealthy pornographer and loan shark Jackie Treehorn. Joel and Ethan Cohen’s seminal comedy, “The Big Lebowski,” was released 20 years ago this week on March 6, 1998. The Dude (Jeff Bridges), a Los Angeleno who was born Jeffrey Lebowski, spends his time smoking marijuana, drinking “Caucasians” and bowling with his beloved friends, Walter Sobchak (John Goodman) and Theodore Donald “Donny” Kerabatsos (Steve Buscemi). Although seemingly unfulfilling, The Dude is thoroughly content and satisfied with his lifestyle and entire existence.
Regrettably for The Dude, a self-proclaimed millionaire also named Jeffrey Lebowski (David Huddleston) lives in a nearby, ritzier neighborhood. This wheelchair-bound man, referred to as “The Big Lebowski,” married a hard-partying trophy wife half his age, Bunny Lebowski (Tara Reid). Bunny is a jezebel who “owes money all over town.” Bunny’s antics and outstanding debts cause Treehorn to send his goons after The Big Lebowski. However, Treehorn’s thugs mistake The Dude for The Big Lebowski and burst into his dingy apartment. After threatening and assaulting The Dude, one of the two hooligans urinates on his prized rug. The Dude later shares details of the incident with Walter.
Walter, a Vietnam veteran with an explosive temper, becomes enraged and urges The Dude to demand a new rug from The Big Lebowski. The Dude agrees with Walter and visits the phony’s mansion to request compensation. The Big Lebowski’s servant, Brandt (Philip Seymour Hoffman), greets the lazy bowler. Brandt escorts The Dude to The Big Lebowski’s office and lets him in. The Big Lebowski, a miserable, testy soul, proceeds to verbally abuse The Dude and bash his state of living. The Dude realizes his mission is pointless and leaves to more insults. Nonetheless, The Dude cleverly deceives Brandt and departs with an expensive piece of floor covering. The Dude’s deception triggers a chaotic series of events that includes a staged kidnapping, a severed toe, a car crash, a brawl with nihilists and Walter firing an Uzi.
The Cohens’ film, likely due to its incredibly intricate and bizarre plot, flopped in movie theaters and was widely bashed by critics. Still, within two years, viewers began to understand the complex storyline and applaud its unrivaled, witty dialogue and absolute hilarity. Since the early 2000s, annual Lebowski Fests have become commonplace across the nation and its catchphrases are constantly used in pop culture. “The Big Lebowski,” an all-time cult classic with a legendary soundtrack, also spawned a religion called Dudeism. This faith, known as The Church of the Latter-Day Dude, has ordained in excess of 220,000 Dudeist Priests. In celebration of this masterpiece, let’s recall the movie’s main characters and see where the actors who played them are today.
Yes, thanks to Maude Lebowski (Julianne Moore), The Dude managed to secure a new rug for his humble abode. Sadly, Donny lost his life during The Dude’s quest to gain this invaluable possession. Jeff Bridges remains active and he most recently portrayed Father Daniel Flynn in “Bad Times at the El Royale.” The 68-year-old Bridges is dedicated to environmental causes and he avidly supports the Amazon Conservation Team (ACT).
Despite twice pulling a firearm, Walter avoided legal trouble and helped The Dude and Donny advance in their bowling tournament. The zany rollers are slated to face Jesus Quintana (John Turturro) and Liam O’Brien in the semis. The 65-year-old John Goodman is still acting and, by getting sober and into fitness, he’s shed more than 100 pounds.
Donny hated violence and his heart couldn’t handle watching the vicious brawl with nihilists. The Dude and Walter scattered a few of Donny’s ashes into the Pacific Ocean. The 60-year-old Steve Buscemi, a retired New York City firefighter, famously depicted Nucky Thomson on HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.”
Brandt always remained staunchly loyal to The Big Lebowski. Tragically, Philip Seymour Hoffman died of a drug overdose at the age of 46 on February 2, 2014.
THE BIG LEBOWSKI
A mean-spirited bully, The Big Lebowski learned a painful lesson when Walter forcefully removed him from his wheelchair and threw him on the ground. David Huddleston passed away at the age of 85 on August 2, 2016.