The Dude Abides! And He WRITES Too!
He’s more than just an Oscar-winning Best Actor – Jeff Bridges will ALWAYS be “The Dude”! Let’s take a look at his new book, which looks at his relationship with his “Zen Master”, as well as two of his greatest roles!
The Dude and the Zen Master – Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman
Jeff Bridges has just released a book – in which he reflects on his life, his philosophy, and his love of “zen!” Here is how Amazon describes the book:
Zen master Bernie Glassman compares Jeff Bridges’s iconic role in The Big Lebowski to a Lamed-Vavnik: one of the men in Jewish mysticism who “are simple and unassuming, and so good that, on account of them, God lets the world go on.” His buddy Jeff puts it another way. The wonderful thing about the Dude, he says, is that he’d always rather hug it out than slug it out.
For more than a decade, Academy Award–winning actor Jeff Bridges and his buddhist teacher, renowned Roshi Bernie Glassman, have been close friends. Inspiring and often hilarious, The Dude and the Zen Master captures their freewheeling dialogue about life, laughter, and the movies with a charm and bonhomie that never fail to enlighten and entertain.
The book celebrates their remarkable humanism and the importance of doing good in a difficult world. Throughout his career, Jeff Bridges has taken a number of unique paths: everything from “Starman” to “Tron”, and a ton of great comedic roles in between.
Here is a look at two terrific performances – starting with a classic 70’s action movie…in which Bridges co-stars with Clint Eastwood and walks off with an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting actor!
Thunderbolt and Lightfoot
Thunderbolt and Lightfoot. This 1974 action film is a classic, criminally overlooked Clint Eastwood heist movie – Jeff Bridges was Oscar-nominated for his role here – and it is directed by Michael Cimino, who would go on next to do “The Deer Hunter.”
Check out the trailer:
That’s right, Jeff Bridges was Oscar-nominated for this, and he is terrific as always! Clint Eastwood plays a bank robber par excellence with a flair for explosives who is being hunted by his former partners, who think he has their loot from their last job.
Bridges is his eager apprentice and sidekick, who helps him escape; when Eastwood finally makes peace with his hunters, Bridges convinces them to try a daring robbery–but things inevitably go awry.
Movies from the seventies had a different pace and tone: so you could have lots of action and still have character development – and Jeff Bridges chews up the scenery with a big, over the top performance – opposite the silent, stone-faced Eastwood…which is why he was oscar-nominated…
Much later in his career, Jeff Bridges won the Best Actor award for his role in the Coen Brothers “True Grit”…a masterclass in acting…
In many ways, this Oscar was a “career achievement” award – for everything from “The Last Picture Show” to “Starman” – and the Coen Brothers certainly got another great perfromance out of him – but it was Jeff Bridges’ first collaboration with the Coens that resulted in what is regarded by many as his best role – and most iconic role EVER:
The Big Lebowski – 1998.
Behold then “The Dude!”
The Coen Brothers have made Oscar winners (No Country For Old Men), instant classics (Fargo), screwball comedies (Raising Arizona, O Brother, Where Art Thou?), intimate dramas (The Man Who Wasn’t There, A Serious Man), offbeat noir (Miller’s Crossing, Barton Fink), and a classic western (True Grit).
And of course, the greatest stoner cult classic of all time: The Big Lebowski. Meet Jeff Bridges, AKA The Dude.
When “The Dude” Lebowski is mistaken for a millionaire Lebowski, two thugs urinate on his rug to coerce him into paying a debt he knows nothing about. While attempting to gain recompense for the ruined rug from his wealthy counterpart, he accepts a one-time job with high pay-off.
He enlists the help of his bowling buddy, Walter, a gun-toting Jewish-convert with anger issues. Walter is played brilliantly by John Goodman.
Deception leads to more trouble, and it soon seems that everyone from porn empire tycoons to nihilists want something from The Dude.
Before filming a scene, Jeff Bridges would frequently ask the Coen Brothers “Did the Dude burn one on the way over?” If they said he had, he would rub his knuckles in his eyes before doing a take.
Maude Lebowski: What do you do for recreation?
The Dude: Oh, the usual. I bowl. Drive around. The occasional acid flashback.
The Dude was based on independent film promoter Jeff Dowd (aka Jeff “The Dude” Dowd), who helped the Coen brothers secure distribution for their first feature, Blood Simple.. Like his fictional counterpart, Dowd was a member of the Seattle Seven and takes a casual approach to grooming and dress.
[being forced into a limousine]
The Dude: Hey, careful, man, there’s a beverage here!
The word “dude” is used around 161 times in the movie. 160 spoken and once in text in the credits for “Gutterballs” the second dream sequence.
And of course, John Turturro is brilliant as “Jesus”, a rival bowler…
All of this terrific trivia was found at IMDB, including my favorite: In a version that was edited for television broadcasts, the famous line “This is what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass!” was changed to “This is what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps!”, which is regularly cited as one of the most “creative” edits made for a film to be aired on TV.
Walter Sobchak: “Fuck it, Dude, let’s go bowling.”