While the Coen Brothers have become quite successful over the last few years, having their biggest box office hits with movies like Burn After Reading, No Country for Old Men and True Grit–the latter two earning them multiple Oscars and nominations–it’s hard to imagine any of those movies will stand the test of time of their 1998 comedy The Big Lebowski, a movie that tanked theatrically but then became an enormous cult hit.
Last night, Universal Studios Home Entertainment got much of the cast back together for a one-night reunion as part of Lebowskifest, the annual gathering of fans of the Coens’ cult hit that started in a bowling alley in Louisville, Kentucky in 2002 and has grown into a massive event. One wouldn’t need any more proof of that then the capacity crowd at New York City’s Hammerstein Ballroom, literally thousands of Lebowski fans who gathered to see the reunion of the cast which was done to commemorate the release of the movie as a Limited Edition Blu-ray.
Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, John Goodman, John Turturro and music supervisor T. Bone Burnett were on hand to reflect back on the roles they played in the Coens’ popular comedy. All of them seemed genuinely pleased to be there but also a bit non-plussed at the ardor shown by the fans, who spent much of the presentation yelling classic lines from the movies at the stars.
Buscemi talked about how he wasn’t sure why anyone might want to play his put-upon character Donny when he first read the script, but he grew to like his relationship with Goodman’s Walter, which he compared to the Skipper and Gilligan from “Gilligan’s Island.” (Both of them debunked the long-time theories that Donny may just be a figment of Walter’s imagination in the movie.) John Turturro didn’t have such trepidations about playing the bowler referred to as “The Jesus,” but the Coens were confident he’d be able to do something with it, plus he explained how the famous “ball-polishing” scene came about from him fooling around between takes. While all of them seemed eager to revisit the characters if the Coens ever decided to write a sequel, Goodman didn’t think that it would ever happen so people shouldn’t get their hopes up.
Things quickly got out of hand as the moderator tried to keep things to the questions on his cards but even the cast were having too much fun to keep things serious. At one point, Bridges even led the audience in a meditative chant to try to calm all of them down, something right in the spirit of his character “The Dude.” Buscemi joked that he hadn’t smoked pot in 20 years but the whole experience made him feel like he was stoned.
The Limited Edition Blu-ray is out now, and for one week only, you can watch a rebroadcast of the presentation below or on LiveStream:
(NOTE: Like the original movie, there’s a lot of strong language and profanity, so if that sort of thing offends you, please don’t watch!)