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Trivia / The Big Lebowski

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For the film:

  • Actor-Inspired Element:
    • A lot of the Dude's clothes in the movie were Jeff Bridges' own clothes, including his Jellies sandals.
    • John Turturro contributed a lot to Jesus - the nail, the hairnet, the licking of his bowling ball and using the device to shine his balls and his dance.
  • Approval of God: When asked what his character would think about Dudeism, Jeff Bridges stated the Dude would be bemused but approving.
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  • Blooper: When the owner of the car Walter's smashing grabs the crowbar, his lips aren't moving despite the guy screaming his lungs out.
  • Creator's Favorite Episode: John Goodman named this as his favourite of all the films he's been in.
  • The Danza: Despite The Dude's seeming similarity to Jeff Bridges, he is actually based on another friend of the Coen Brothers, Jeff "The Dude" Dowd. Dowd, Dude, and Bridges are all named Jeffrey.
  • Defictionalization:
    • Replicas of The Dude's Medina Sod bowling shirt and the Big Lebowski's "Person of the Year" mirror can easily be found for sale.
    • Time Magazine even made a mirrored cover of their own for Person of the Year in 2006.
    • The below-mentioned "Dudeism" is a recognized religion, and people have been married under it.
    • In 2014, the Texas Supreme Court roundly rejected prior restraint via quoting Walter Sobchak.
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  • Dyeing for Your Art: To develop the lazy, out of shape character of the Dude, Jeff Bridges let himself go physically.
  • Enforced Method Acting: During the dream sequence when the Dude is looking up at a series of dancing girls, the expression he wears on his face is the result of the extras (with the encouragement of Jeff Bridges' wife and daughter) having stuffed their briefs with hair to make it seem as though they had ungroomed nether regions.
  • Fake Nationality:
    • The German nihilists played by Peter Stormare (Swedish), Flea (Australian), and Aimee Mann (American). The fourth nihilist was played by an actual German, Torsten Voges.
    • Jesus, who is Cuban American, is played by Italian-American actor John Turturro.
  • Harpo Does Something Funny: Although John Goodman denies it, Jeff Bridges claims that they both ad-libbed most of their dialogue. This may be true, due to the fact that they often interrupt their own lines and stutter in the film.
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  • Image Source: For Serious Business.
  • Inspiration for the Work: The Coens were inspired by the works of Raymond Chandler, as well as The Long Kiss Goodnight.
  • Magnum Opus Dissonance: In a rare Coen Brothers interview in 2009, Joel Coen flatly stated, "That movie has more of an enduring fascination for other people than it does for us."
  • Method Acting: Bridges would ask the directors if The Dude had smoked a joint between scenes. If they answered yes, then he'd rub his eyes until they looked red.
  • Playing Against Type:
    • To some degree, John Goodman as Walter Sobchak. His characters, when not directed by the Coen Brothers, tend to be nice, huggable, jolly guys. Walter is anything but. Which nearly became his type. Goodman said in an interview that a lot of the roles offer to him post-Lebowski were variations of the blustering Walter character.
    • Also, Steve Buscemi's role as a clueless, laid-back slacker who can't get a word in edgewise was written as a jokey inversion of the motor-mouthed psychopath types he'd played in Fargo and Reservoir Dogs. Walter's oft-repeated line "shut the fuck up Donny!" is precisely because Buscemi's wouldn't shut up in Fargo.
  • The Red Stapler: The White Russian has become somewhat legitimized as a "guy" drink thanks to this movie, as most people nowadays will just assume a man ordering one is a fan of The Dude.
  • Release Date Change: Originally scheduled for a Christmas 1997 release, Polygram moved the film out of the crowded holiday frame to March 1998, where it opened in the same frame as Fargo.
  • Shrug of God: Jimmie Dale Gilmore (Smokey) admits he has been asked over a hundred times whether he stepped over the line or not when his character bowled. Gilmore says he knows, but the answer is a secret that he will take to his grave.
  • Throw It In!: In an interview with Rolling Stone, John Goodman stated that The Dude referring to The Big Lebowski as a "human paraquat" was one of the only improvised lines to make it into the final film. Virtually every other line, including every "man", "dude", and "uh", was scripted.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • In the original script, the Dude's car was a Chrysler LeBaron, as Jeff Dowd had once owned, but that car was not big enough to fit John Goodman so the Coens changed it to a Ford Torino.
    • In the original script, it was revealed that Walter was never actually a Vietnam veteran. Following Donny's funeral, the Dude was to yell at Walter, "You were never fucking in Vietnam, Walter".
    • Charlize Theron auditioned for Bunny.
    • The Coen Brothers originally wanted Marlon Brando for Jeffrey Lebowski. They even amused themselves by quoting some of their favourite Jeffrey Lebowski lines ("Strong men also cry") in a Brando imitation. Names tossed around for the role included Robert Duvall (who didn't like the script), Anthony Hopkins (who passed since he had no interest in playing an American), and Gene Hackman (who was taking a break at the time). A second "wish list" included an oddball "who's who," including Ernest Borgnine, Norman Mailer, George C. Scott and Gore Vidal.
  • Write Who You Know:
    • The Dude is mostly inspired by Jeff Dowd, an American film producer and political activist The Coen Brothers met while they were trying to find distribution for Blood Simple. Dowd had been a member of the Seattle Seven, liked to drink White Russians, and was known as "The Dude". The Dude was also partly based on a friend of the Coen brothers, Peter Exline (now a member of the faculty at USC's School of Cinematic Arts), a Vietnam War veteran who reportedly lived in a dump of an apartment and was proud of a little rug that "tied the room together". Exline knew Barry Sonnenfeld from New York University and Sonnenfeld introduced Exline to the Coen brothers while they were trying to raise money for Blood Simple.Exline became friends with the Coens and in 1989, told them all kinds of stories from his own life, including ones about his actor-writer friend Lewis Abernathy (one of the inspirations for Walter), a fellow Vietnam vet who later became a private investigator and helped him track down and confront a high school kid who stole his car. As in the film, Exline's car was impounded by the Los Angeles Police Department and Abernathy found an 8th grader's homework under the passenger seat.
    • Walter was based on John Milius, who the Coens met in Los Angeles while making Barton Fink. An infamously bombastic right-winger with an obsession with all things militaristic, and an enthusiasm for guns, his girth, beard, hair style, and shades are also all reflected in Walter's physical appearance. Milius introduced the Coens to one of his best friends, Jim Ganzer, also known as the Dude.

For the pinball:

  • Pre-Order Bonus: Or early purchase bonus, rather - a Lebowski-themed small rug (complete with bowling references) that can be placed under the game.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: The game includes songs from the actual movie soundtrack, including Bob Dylan’s "The Man in Me," Kenny Rogers' "Just Dropped In," and Santana's "Oye Como Va."
  • Troubled Production: Quite a turbulent one. Universal Studios contributed plenty of Executive Meddling during development and threatened Dutch Pinball with pulling the license after premature showing of a prototype with unapproved artwork. Dutch Pinball's Director of Marketing and Communications, Phillip Weinberg, resigned due to said problems and made several revealing and accusatory statements about the company. And just when everything appeared fine, it came to light in 2017 that Dutch's Pinball's contract manufacturer, ARA, was halting production of The Big Lebowski upon claims that Dutch Pinball had not paid them sufficiently. They also were holding completed machines hostage from customers out of protest. Dutch Pinball severed ties with ARA and announced that they found a new manufacturer, though nonetheless have been derided by those still awaiting their games.

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