Did you know there's a whole movie made out of The Big Lebowski quotes? It's called The Big Lebowski, and it's about a laid-back slacker known as the Dude who finds himself involved in a complex kidnapping case but spends most of the movie bowling, drinking White Russians, and talking about his carpet. The Dude's relaxed attitude has inspired a philosophical movement called Dudeism and a yearly festival, Lebowski Fest.
The Real-Life Inspiration: Jeff Dowd
The Coen brothers have a habit of putting real people in their movies, then being hailed as geniuses for creating them. The Dude, for example, is inspired by their friend Jeff Dowd, and by "inspired" we mean "it's the same guy." The main difference is that Dowd actually has a job (he's a film producer), but the Dude's personality, drink of choice, nickname, and even biography (some parts, anyway) are all borrowed from Dowd. In the movie, the Dude mentions that he was a member of the Seattle Seven, a group of political activists who were arrested in 1970 -- in real life, that was Dowd.
He's the hippie with the curly hair.
Meanwhile, some of the Dude's misadventures were based on anecdotes told to the Coens by fellow screenwriter Peter Exline, who once had his car stolen and found a teenager's homework inside when it was recovered. Exline and a friend tracked down the teenager and interrogated him in his living room, where his sick father (a Hollywood veteran) lived in a hospital bed. That whole story appears pretty much verbatim in the film.
Polygram Filmed Entertainment