Grab your bowling balls and a White Russian because here are a few facts about The Big Lebowski that really tie the room together.
1. The Dude is based on a real guy.
The Coen Brothers primarily based the Dude (played by Jeff Bridges) on a man named Jeff Dowd, who helped distribute their first film, Blood Simple, in 1984. Like the stoner character in the movie, Dowd was a member of the anti-war group the Seattle Seven and actually called himself “The Dude.”
2. Other bits of the movie were also inspired by real life.
Peter Exline, a screenwriting consultant and film professor at USC and good friend of the Coens, told the pair various stories from his own life that found their way into the movie. For example, he had a rug in his living room that “tied the room together” and he once found a child’s homework in his car after it had been stolen.
3. The Coen Brothers look out for their friends.
John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, and John Turturro’s characters were written specifically for them. Including The Big Lebowski, both Buscemi and Goodman have appeared in six Coen Brothers movies, while Turturro has appeared in four.
4. Julianne Moore’s character is based on a real-life artist.
Maude was modeled after visual and performance artist Carolee Schneemann.
5. Early drafts revealed the Dude’s source of income.
He was supposed to be the heir to the Rubik’s Cube fortune.
6. The Dude has some biblical dialogue.
The famous line “the Dude abides” was taken from the Bible verse Ecclesiastes 1:4, which reads, "One generation passes away, and another generation comes: but the Earth abides forever."
7. The Dude plays guitar… in real life.
Actor Jeff Bridges plays guitar in a band called The Abiders, which is named after the abovementioned “the Dude abides” line from the movie.
8. The movie inspired its own festival.
First held in Louisville, Kentucky, in 2002, the “Lebowski Fest” has since been held in over 30 cities multiple times each year. Festivities include screenings of the movie, costume and trivia contests, all-night bowling, copious amounts of White Russians, and appearances by the film’s actors, including Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, Julianne Moore, and Peter Stormare.
9. The costume department didn’t have to look far for the Dude’s wardrobe.
Bridges provided most of his own clothes (including the Jellie sandals).
10. Donny (Steve Buscemi) might be having an identity crisis.
All of his personalized bowling shirts show different—non-Donny—names.
11. The Dude spawned his own religion.
According to its official website, the core tenet of Dudeism is that “everything is just, like, your opinion, man.” You can also join the ranks of the over 220,000 Dudeist ministers ordained worldwide.
12. The Dude has his own store in New York City.
The Little Lebowski Shop solely sells memorabilia from the movie.
13. The Coens had fun with Jesus’s (John Turturro) musical cues.
A Spanish-language version of The Eagles’ “Hotel California” by the Gipsy Kings can be heard during the scene where Jesus is introduced. And, as we all know, the Dude hates the Eagles.
14. The bowling alley was real.
The bowling alley scenes were shot at the Hollywood Star Lanes on Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood, California. Little Lebowski Urban Achievers looking to bowl a few frames are out of luck: The building was demolished in 2003 to make way for a new elementary school. Weirdly enough, the Dude is never seen actually bowling in the entire movie.
15. The bowling shots were tricky to capture.
To get the POV shots of the bowling balls rolling down the lanes, the camera was mounted on a specialized RC car chassis that reached speeds of 20mph and followed actual balls that were bowled on set.