David Huddleston, the actor who played the titular role in The Big Lebowski, passed away Tuesday at the age of 85. For fans of the film, Huddleston will always be remembered for his turn as Jeffrey Lebowski, the ill-tempered millionaire who sets Jeffrey "The Dude" Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) on a quest across Los Angeles to find his sexy young wife Bunny (Tara Reid) following a case of mistaken identity.
Huddleston wasn't the film's star, but his memorable role was definitely a factor in its transformation into a cult classic. The Big Lebowski is a fan favorite from the Coen Brothers, filled with hilarious characters, deadpan jokes, instantly quotable lines and of course plenty of bowling.
To celebrate Huddleston's life and career, we're taking a look at some awesome things you (probably) didn't know about The Big Lebowski.
1. The Story Was Based On The Big Sleep
When writing The Big Lebowski, the Coen Brothers took their inspiration from noir classic The Big Sleep. The pair wanted to create a story based around a seemingly complex mystery that was ultimately trivial, and The Big Sleep provided the perfect template.
2. The Film Is A National Treasure
Back in 2014, The Big Lebowski selected for preservation by the Library of Congress, which according to its guidelines only selects "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" films. The Library remarked that the film was chosen in part because of the Coen Brothers's exploration of "themes of alienation, inequality and class structure via a group of hard-luck, off-beat characters suddenly drawn into each other’s orbits."
3. Tons Of Famous People Love The Movie
It should come as no shock that plenty of celebrities are huge fans of the film. Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Jennifer Lawrence, Martin Starr, Nick Offerman and more have all named it one of their top five films in interviews with Rotten Tomatoes.
4. Apparently The Plot Doesn't Matter
The film has a pretty meandering story, and according to Joel Coen the plot doesn't actually matter. In a DVD extra for the film, Coen states "The plot is sort of secondary to the other things that are sort of going on in the piece. I think that if people get a little confused it’s not necessarily going to get in the way of them enjoying the movie."
5. You Like The Movie More Than The Coens Do
In a rare 2009 interview, Joel Coen commented on the film's cult status by bluntly noting, "That movie has more of an enduring fascination for other people than it does for us."
6. Both Lebowskis Were In Another Movie Together
The Big Lebowski wasn't the first time Bridges and Huddleston shared some screen time. The actors both appeared in the 1972 western Bad Company.
7. The Dude Appears In Every Scene
It's no secret that The Big Lebowski has some film noir influence, and in keeping with the noir tradition the "detective," in this case the Dude, appears in every scene. He can even be spotted in the background when the Nihilists are ordering pancakes at the diner.
8. The Film Abides By The Bible
The classic line "The Dude abides" is actually a reference to a section of Ecclesiastes 1:4 in The Bible which reads, "One generation passes away, and another generation comes: but the earth abides forever."
9. The Dude Inspired A Relgion
Jeff Bridges brought plenty of zen sage advice as the Dude, and apparently it was enough to start a movement. Dudeism is a religious philosophy spawned by the Dude's dedication to taking it easy, and has over 350,000 ordained priests worldwide thanks to an easy application on its official website.
10. You Can Go To A Lebowski Festival
Considering it's cult of fans, it should be no shock that The Big Lebowski has a festival of its very own. Dubbed Lebowski Fest, the annual event started in 2002 and takes place every year in Louisville, Kentucky.
11. Jeff Bridges Wore His Own Clothes
The Dude isn't exactly a fashion guru, and apparently neither is Bridges. Most of the character's wardrobe was owned by Bridges. In fact, the oriental shirt The Dude wears later in the film was also worn by Bridges in The Fisher King.
12. The Dude Never Bowls
Bowling plays a big role in the movie, and we even see the Dude hang out with buddies Walter Sobchak (John Goodman) and Donny (Steve Buscemi) at the bowling alley multiple times. But we never see the Dude actually toss a bowling ball. He doesn't even bowl in his wild dream sequence.
13. The Dude Knows How To Drink
The Dude loves his White Russians, and throughout the film downs nine of them. One time I drank nine White Russians while watching The Big Lebowski. It wasn't a good time.
14. The Dude Only Says His Real Name Once
The Dude only says his real name once in the film when he introduces himself during his visit to the mortuary. Though he doesn't even say his full name, going with "Jeff Lebowski" over "Jeffrey Lebowski."
15. Richard Nixon Appears In the Film
Who would have guessed that President Richard Nixon makes an appearance in the movie? Tricky Dick can be spotted as the bowler in a photograph sitting on the Dude's mantelpiece. The photo itself is a famous one of Nixon shot at the bowling alley beneath the White House.
16. Bridges Immediately Connected With The Dude
In a 1994 interview on Inside the Actor's Studio, Bridges revealed that after reading the script he asked the Coens, "Did you guys hang out with me in high school?" The character's personality clearly reminded Bridges of his earlier years.
17. Goodman & Buscemi Were Hand Picked For Their Roles
Having worked with both actors previously, the Coen Brothers created Walter and Donny with Goodman and Buscemi in mind. However, when writing the script they had no idea who would end up playing the Dude.
18. The Stranger Was Written For Sam Elliott
Though they hadn't worked with him before, the writers created the Stranger with Sam Elliot in mind. Of course, the actor's background in Westerns made him the perfect candidate to play the film's cowboy narrator.
19. Walter Was Based On A Famous Screenwriter
The Coens based the character of Walter on screenwriter John Milius. Milius wrote Apocalypse Now and was the writer/director behind Red Dawn and Conan the Barbarian, and much like Walter was also a conservative gun lover.
20. The Dude Was Inspired By An Indie Producer
The filmmakers were inspired to create the Dude based on longtime collaborator and indie film producer Jeff Dowd. The Coen Brothers met Dowd while promoting their first film, Blood Simple, and he helped them secure distribution for the movie. Like the Dude, Dowd is a pretty laidback guy who also has a rebellious streak — he protested the Vietnam War as one of the famed Seattle Seven.
21. Maude Was Based On Some Famous Artists
Julianne Moore has a scene stealing performance as eccentric artist Maude, and according to the actress her character was based on artists Carolee Schneemann and Yoko Ono. Schneemann was perhaps the bigger influence, as she inspired Maude's penchant for painting naked from a swing.
22. Moore And Elliott Were Barely On Set
Moore and Elliott both had memorable but relatively small roles in the film. In fact, Moore was only on set for two weeks — one early in the production and one closer to the close. Meanwhile, Elliott shot all his scenes in just two days.
23. John Tuturro Basically Created Jesus
Actor John Tuturro delivers one of the film's funniest performances as pederast bowler Jesus Quintana. While the Coens always planned on including Jesus, his mannerisms were inspired by a character Tuturro played during a theater performance they saw back in 1988.
24. Tuturro Thought He Had A Bigger Role
On top of essentially creating Jesus, Tuturro initially thought that the bowler had a much bigger role in the film. But even though he's only on screen for a few minutes, the Coens gave him free range to do whatever he wanted with the character, coming up with Jesus's trademark ball shining technique and dance moves.
25. The Coens Wanted Marlon Brando To Play Lebowski
David Huddleston did a terrific job bringing Jeffrey Lebowski to life, but the Coen Brothers had a few other actors in mind for the character. Their list included Anthony Hopkins, Gene Hackman and Robert Duvall, but their top pick was Marlon Brando. Of course, Brando was at the end of his career and was never in serious talks for the role.
26. Charlize Theron Was Almost Cast As Bunny
Audiences got their first taste of Tara Reid in The Big Lebowski, with the movie marking just her second film appearance. But the part of Bunny Lebowski almost went to Charlize Theron.
27. Bunny's License Plate Is A Real Easter Egg
If you speak French, you may have noticed that the license plate on Bunny's car reads "LAPIN," which is the French word for rabbit.
28. The Photo Of Bunny's Farm Is Pretty Famous
The filmmakers used a classic photograph from Truman Capote's In Cold Blood as the picture of Bunny's farmtown home in Minnesota.
29. Jesus's Bulge Was Fake
Jesus's most memorable quality is his tight jumpsuits and the big bulge it highlights. Sadly, the bulge was fake, simulated with a bag of birdseed shoved down Tuturro's pants.
30. More F*cks Than Scarface
The f-word and its variations are said an impressive 292 times in the movie, beating out the 207 utterances heard in Scarface. Unfortunately, Lebowski doesn't quite match the 300 f-bombs spoken in Goodfellas.
31. The Dude Says "Man" A Lot
The Dude has a penchant for ending most of his sentences with the word "man," which he says 147 times in the movie. That's a lot of mans, man.
32. Obvioulsy, They Say "Dude" A Lot Too
The word "dude" is said 160 times in the film, and can be seen in the text credits during the Gutterballs dream sequence. With that in mind, we'll bump up The Big Lebowski's dude total to 161.
33. You Can't Forget About The Dude's Rug
The whole story is kicked off when a pair of random thugs break into the Dude's house and piss on his rug. The rug incident is mentioned 17 times in the film, while the fact that it "really tied the room together" is mentioned five times.
34. The Rug Almost Tied The Film Together
Considering the rug's role in the movie, producer Joel Silver initially suggested that the film close with the Dude getting a new, clean rug. But the filmmakers never followed through on the idea.
35. There's A Huge Fargo Reference
The Coen Brothers won critical acclaim for 1996's Fargo, just two years before The Big Lebowski's release. And they snuck in a huge reference to their Academy Award-winning film. The classic line "Shut the fuck up Donny" is actually a reference to Steve Buscemi's character in Fargo, who just couldn't shut up.
36. And There's A Tiny Barton Fink Easter Egg
Barton Fink ranks as one of the Coen Brothers's best flicks, so it should come as no shock they hid a tiny reference to the film in Lebowski. The sign for Walter's home security business offers "peace of mind," which is a reference to Goodman's character in Barton Fink who also claims to sell peace of mind as an insurance salesman.
37. The Name Of Walter's Business Has A Dark Connection
Pay close attention and you'll notice that Walter's business is known as Sobchak Security. The initials "SS" are thrown in as a dark joke to reference the Schutzstaffel of Nazi Germany, who of course were known as the SS. The reference is even more ironic given Walter's Jewish heritage.
38. Metallica Likes The Movie
At one point, the Dude tells Maude that he was a roadie for Metallica during their Speed of Sound tour, referring to the band as a "bunch of assholes." Well, the band reportedly loved the reference and were flattered that the Coens included them in the film.
39. Glenn Frey Of The Eagles Hated It
The Eagles were famous for defining the SoCal cool rock sounds of the '70s through hit tracks like "Take It Easy," "Lyin' Eyes" and of course "Hotel California." But the film made it a point to note that the Dude absolutely hated them. That didn't bode well when Jeff Bridges met Eagles founder Glenn Frey, who confronted Bridges about the hate. As the actor recalled, "I can't remember what he said exactly, but my anus tightened a bit."
40. Walter, Donny And The Dude Have A Special Lane
In every bowling scene, the trio is seen in lane 23. We assume this is their special lane, cleared whenever the group hits the bowling alley.
41. Donny's Death Was A Big Joke
Donny's death and cremation was actually part of an ongoing joke in the Coens's films featuring Steve Buscemi. Buscemi dies in Miller's Crossing, Fargo and The Big Lebowski, each time getting smaller in death. In Miller's Crossing, he's seen as a dead body, while in Fargo he's reduced to a severed leg, with the ashes in Lebowski completing the cycle.
42. Donny Is The Best Bowler
The Dude, Walter and Donny may all love bowling, but Donny's clearly the best. Watch closely and you'll notice that he actually bowls a strike with every roll in the film, except for his last which comes right before his death.
43. Donny's Personalized Shirts Don't Bear His Name
As Donny, Steve Buscemi served as the Dude and Walter's resident punching bag. And while he's seen wearing personalized bowling shirts throughout the film, none of those shirts actually have his name on them.
44. The Dude Had Ties To The Rubik's Cube
In the first draft of the script, it was revealed that the Dude was able to live comfortably and do nothing because he was the heir to the Rubik's Cube fortune. But the idea was tossed in favor of leaving his origins a mystery.
45. How Did Jeff Bridges Look High?
The Dude smokes plenty of weed during the movie, and Bridges was pretty dedicated to the part. He would ask the filmmakers if his character had smoked recently at the start of a new scene, and if they said yes he'd rub his knuckles over his eyes to appear high.
46. The Severed Toe Belonged To A Famous Musician
Fans will remember that the severed toe believed to be Bunny's was in fact donated to the Nihilists by another member of their group. That nine-toed woman was played by Aimee Mann, a fixture in the indie music scene best known as a co-founder of '80s new wave band 'Til Tuesday.
47. There's An Actual Porn Star In The Movie
Fans will recall that Bunny starred alongside a man and a woman in her porn film Logjammin', and while you'll recognize the man as one of the film's Nihilists you might be surprised to know that the woman was real life porn star Asia Carrera.
48. An Oscar-Winning Screenwriter Makes An Appearance
If you pay close attention, you'll notice that screenwriter Charlie Kaufman appears in the background of the theater where the Dude, Walter and Donny watch an interpretive dance performance. Kaufman won the Best Original Screenplay Oscar in 2005 for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
49. The Movie Spawned A 9/11 Conspiracy Theory
Conspiracy theorists are quick to point out that the 69 cent check that the Dude writes to buy his milk is dated September 1, 1991 — 10 years before 9/11. Perhaps even more strange is that President George H.W. Bush can be heard railing against Saddam Hussein during a speech in the background. For some, it was an eery prediction of things to come.
50. The TV Edit Has A Hilarious New Line
The Big Lebowski doesn't hold back on cursing, and one of its funniest moments is when Walter shouts "This is what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass!" before demolishing a random sports car. But the line was changed for TV to "This is what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps!," which makes absolutely no sense but is still pretty hilarious.
51. The Film Was Cited In A Texas Supreme Court Case
Back in 2014, Texas Supreme Court Justice Debra Lehrmann cited The Big Lebowski in her decision on a freedom of speech case. Her ruling stated that prior restraint, meaning censorship prior to an expression occurring, has been largely rejected by "the Supreme Court, this Court, Texas courts of appeals, legal treatises, and even popular culture." An attached footnote quoted referring to her pop culture comment included Walter's statement that, "the Supreme Court has roundly rejected prior restraint."
52. You Can Visit The Dude's House
If you look closely at the check that the Dude writes in the film's opening, you'll notice his address is 609 Venezia Avenue in Venice, California. That's a real address that you can go visit
53. Jeffrey Lebowski's House Is Pretty Famous
The famed Greystone Mansion was served as Jeffrey Lebowski's house in the film, which has appeared in plenty of other movies including The Social Network, The Prestige, Rush Hour and The Dirty Dozen. But it's maybe most fondly remembered as the house from Meat Loaf's music video for "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)."
54. Jackie Treehorn's House Belongs To A Museum
When the Dude visits pornographer/loan shark Jackie Treehorn (Ben Gazzara), he gets to see some incredible architecture that only the richest of the rich could afford. The house, which was designed by architect John Lautner, was donated to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art earlier this year by its owner.
55. The Bowling Alley's Been Demolished
All of the bowling scenes were shot at Holly Star Lanes in Santa Monica, California. But the film appearance didn't save the bowling alley, which was demolished to make way for a school.
56. That Coffee Shop Looks Familiar
The coffee shop where the Dude and Walter discuss the severed toe is actually Johnie's Coffee Shop, a closed down diner used almost exclusively for film shoots. You might recognize the location as the diner from Reservoir Dogs and American History X.
57. Jeff Bridges's Band Is Inspired By The Film
When he's not acting, Bridges has a second career as a musician. While on tour, he sometimes plays with a backing band called The Abiders, an obvious reference to the film's most memorable line.
58. John Goodman Loves The Movie
John Goodman has called The Big Lebowski his favorite film that he's acted in, though who knows if that will change in the future.
59. John Tuturro Really Wants A Jesus Spinoff
Tuturro may have only briefly appeared as Jesus, but the actor's been trying to get a spinoff featuring the character off the ground for several years. And while it hasn't happened yet, Tuturro hasn't lost hope. He recently told the Hollywood Reporter that "It's a very complicated legal situation," and that, "until things are all signed, you can't really talk about it. But we'll see."
60. Jeff Bridges Is Down For A Sequel
In a recent interview with Business Insider, Bridges revealed that he'd be more than happy to return for a sequel. He called a sequel "a great idea," noting that in addition to an original sequel he'd also be down for an appearance in Tuturro's proposed Jesus spinoff.
What are your favorite moments from The Big Lebowski? Let us know in the comments below.