'The Big Lebowski': John Turturro Says He Was 'Embarrassed' By His Scenes
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Ahh, The Big Lebowski – a film famed for launching its own religion (Dudeism, via The Church of the Latter-Day Dude), inspiring the names of two African spiders, and basically being the favorite movie of nearly everyone who went to college between the years of 1995 and 2002. But even with its widespread status as a cult classic – one even the Library of Congress has recognized – it seems not every dude could abide with the fact that the film was truly extraordinary.
Long before he penned, directed, and starred in The Big Lebowski's 2020 spin-off, The Jesus Rolls, John Turturro – a.k.a Jesus Quintana himself -- says he, too was initially skeptical of the movie. “Even I didn’t get The Big Lebowski when I first read it,” Turturro told Variety back in 2019, noting that the film's co-writers Joel and Ethan Coen, ultimately talked him into taking on the part. “I was like, ‘This is like two seconds,’" he recalled telling them. “But they said, ‘Well, yeah, but you’ll do something with it,'” he continued.
Ultimately, it seems the Coen brothers' pleas paid off -- Turturro ultimately signed on to the now-iconic project, taking the sparse information around his character as inspiration for his role. “‘There’s nothing here!’ he recalled of the script in a 2017 interview with The Hollywood Reporter.” So then I thought, ‘I better make something up because they’re all talking about him!'” But even putting a unique spin on his character wasn't enough to quell the actor's concerns – ones that seemingly re-ignited after he viewed his clips.
“The first time they showed to me I was really embarrassed,” Turturro explained in a 2017 interview with The Hollywood Reporter. It wasn't just his parts – he also says it took him some time to understand what, exactly made The Big Lebowski so special. “I didn’t even get the movie when it came out,” he said. “When I saw it, I thought was great, but it went over my head.”
But ultimately, this aggression did not stand, man. Over the years, Turturro says he began to embrace his role, even penning a film starring Jesus. “I’ve always thought that Jesus was a real full character, and I kind of just did the trailer version in ‘The Big Lebowski’ to serve this wonderful film,” he said. After all, life goes on, man.
Top Image: Working Title Films