Jeff Bridges initially turned down almost every major movie role he’s taken on, having to be persuaded that it’s a good idea and he’s the right fit. The role that he’s most famous for, The Dude in the Coen Brothers‘ The Big Lebowski, is no exception. Jeff Bridges initially resisted taking on the poster boy of slackers and stoners everywhere, for a somewhat surprising reason.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter in 2011, Bridges’ best friend T-Bone Burnett and his brother Beau Bridges both explained that although Bridges made playing The Dude look easy, as if he was basically playing himself, this was absolutely not the case.
Burnett said; “A lot of people think the Dude is Jeff, but the character in Starman (1984) is closest, because he seems to look at everything from outer space. Everything is marvelous to him.” Beau Bridges said; “That character took thought and concentration. He put a lot of time into trying to figure out exactly how he looked, what he wore — everything about him. And at the end, you look at him, and he’s just that relaxed dude.”
“I was concerned about taking that part because it was sort of romancing a stoner, a pothead,” Jeff Bridges said of The Big Lebowski. “My daughters at the time were a little bit more vulnerable. So I asked what they thought, and Jessie, my little girl, said, ‘You’re an actor, you’re pretending.’”
“Up until Lebowski, we never had a video monitor [on set],” Joel Coen said. “I was convinced it would be misused, but it gave [Bridges] this ability to check his work and, after two or three takes, make subtle adjustments that we couldn’t see.”