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I still love it when people shout Dude at me in the street

The Sun meets The Big Lebowski legend Jeff Bridges

A SCRUFFY-LOOKING dude stumbles past in a cannabis-induced haze, dressed in
jelly sandals, a V-neck T-shirt and a chunky beige cardigan.

He has long, sandy-coloured hair and a goatee beard and looks like he has
lived in these clothes, night and day, his entire life.

In the air at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom, mingling with the marijuana
smoke, is a sense of excitement that even mind-numbing weed can’t dull.

Because this is Lebowski Fest – the annual meeting of fans obsessed with
1998 cult comedy The Big Lebowski – and the man stumbling past is one of
numerous visitors getting into the party spirit.

At this year’s event the movie’s four main stars – Jeff Bridges, John Goodman,
Steve Buscemi and Julianne Moore – are being reunited for the first time
since the film’s wrap party 13 years ago.

This monumental moment has prompted Big Lebowski nuts to come out in force –
many making a rare trip from their living rooms dressed as The Dude, the
movie’s lovable but lazy pot-head hero.

Their laid-back, long-haired look is still shared by their idol Bridges – the
original Dude – at the age of 61.

With his amiable, lumbering style it’s easy to see why the movie’s obsessed
fans can’t separate Jeff from his character.

But as we chatted at the event, he told me he almost stopped all this Lebowski
madness before it began by turning down the iconic role in the Coen
brothers’ flick.

He was mocked as a child for the parts played by his actor father Lloyd – star
of B-movies including 1980’s Airplane! – and didn’t want to inflict the same
on his kids.

Dad-of-three Jeff revealed: “I remember reading that script and enjoying it so
much. It made me laugh. Wonderful characters.

“But my kids were teens at the time and being the son of a famous person, I
know what it’s like to be at school and your father is an actor. I didn’t
want them to be teased. But one of my daughters said to me, ‘You’re an
actor, do what you want to do.’ It was a wonderful thing for her to say.

“The Big Lebowski is one of my favourite movies, regardless of whether I’m
in it. It’s a wonderful movie. I’m proud to be a part of it.”

Jeff also admitted the similarities between himself and The Dude do not stop
at their choice of hairstyle and facial fuzz.

He said: “A lot of the clothes in the movie were mine. Clothes are one of the
first things I explore when I look at a character. I went through my
wardrobe and found these jelly sandals – and various T-shirts and tops – and
used them.

“I love it when people shout ‘Dude’ at me in the street. I love that
connection. The Dude look is still with me now. I wear the mantle of The
Dude proudly.”

And while Jeff gave up smoking cannabis for his role in the movie, he suggests
he still doesn’t object to the odd smoke.

He admitted: “I grew up in the Sixties and did my fair share of experimenting.
Weed is less harmful than booze, certainly, but I did quit smoking pot for
The Big Lebowski. The Coens wrote such an amazing script that I wanted all
my wits about me.

“As a young actor I made the mistake of thinking that because my character
is drunk, I’ll just get drunk. But I’ve found that doesn’t work.

“So I used what us actors call ‘sense memory’. And I’ve smoked enough weed to
know what it’s like and not to have to prepare for a scene by smoking a
joint.”

After just a few minutes in his company, it becomes obvious why Jeff is called
the nicest man in Hollywood. The grin, warm eyes and infectious laugh see to
that. His kind-hearted nature – and 65-plus film CV – has helped him become
an international heart-throb although he has been married to Susan Geston
for 34 years.

Before Jeff started acting he wanted to be a musician, partly to rebel
against his dad who encouraged him to go into movies.

He released his first album 11 years ago but it was his Oscar-winning turn in
2009 film Crazy Heart that opened the door for him to return to the
recording studio.

Jeff has now combined with T-Bone Burnett – the man behind the Lebowski
soundtrack and the music in Crazy Heart – to release a self-titled record.

Jeff said: “It is kind of a teenage dream come true. It feels funny to be
doing this at 61 but I’m glad that I am.”

It was not only Dudes who were in New York to hail the movie about drinking,
smoking, bowling, a stolen rug and two men called Jeffrey Lebowski. Lovers
of Goodman’s gun-toting character Walter Sobchak wore army gear and scowls.
Some fans even wore the tight purple jumpsuit favoured by their ten-pin
bowling rival Jesus Quintana, played by John Turturro. Jeff and his co-stars
were greeted like rock stars as they arrived at the event, which also
celebrated the release of the film on Blu-ray this week.

Despite initially being a box office flop in the US, the film has become a
cult phenomenon. Lebowski Fest was started by two movie nuts in 2002.

Fans who call themselves Achievers – taken from the fictional charity in the
film, Little Lebowski Urban Achievers – gather and exchange banter and
randomly quote favourite lines, such as: “The Dude abides.”

An entire religion called Church Of The Latter-Day Dude – or Dudeism for short
– was formed in 2005 and more than 100,000 Dudeist priests have been
ordained.

As the stars exchanged hugs and old stories, you could tell making the
movie was a highlight in all of their careers.

And Jeff wasn’t the only one who still seemed remarkably similar to his Big
Lebowski character.

In real-life, Roseanne star Goodman, 59, is almost as terrifying as The Dude’s
pal Walter. Buscemi, 53, seems as awkward as his character Donny Kerabatsos
and the stunning Moore, 50, is every bit as arresting as the seductive Maude
Lebowski. And for the first time, all four stars admitted to The Sun they
would love to do a sequel.

John revealed: “I’m down for anything. It was like falling out of bed. It was
the easiest job ever.” Julianne said: “It was a great experience. It’s so
many people’s favourite. It’s not up to me, it’s up to the Coen brothers.
But I’d work with these guys again in a second.”

Steve hopes he could be found a role in any potential follow-up, despite his
character dying at the end of the first flick.

He was blown away by the support at the Lebowski reunion and said: “I haven’t
smoked pot in about 20 years but I feel like I’m stoned.”

Sequel or no sequel, The Dude lives on in Jeff. Thirteen years on, he has his
own ideas about what The Dude might be doing now: “He’d be a masseur, man.”

As for the movie’s die-hard fans, another 13 years from now they will
still be watching The Big Lebowski, wearing sandals and cardigans and
calling each other “dude”.

I still love it when people shout Dude at me in the street The Sun meets The Big Lebowski legend Jeff Bridges A SCRUFFY-LOOKING dude stumbles past in a cannabis-induced haze, dressed in jelly

I quit marijuana when using it was riskier: Jeff Bridges

Press Trust of India | New York Last Updated at June 9, 2013 11:35 IST

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Oscar-winning actor Jeff Bridges has revealed that he gave up smoking marijuana when it became illegal and using it was a lot riskier.

The 63-year-old actor, who is always been honest about his marijuana use, said he does not smoke anymore, reported The New York Post.

“Now that pot is practically legal, I don’t smoke anymore. I’ve been off pot for a while,” he said.

Bridges said that enjoyment of cigars might have come from smoking pot.

“Enjoying cigars might have come from smoking pot. Sampling different kinds of herb. There’s a certain aspect of that with cigars: all the different types and sizes and aromas, the way they’re made. Each one is individual – like rolling a joint. You have a relationship with the cigar,” he added.

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Read more about I quit marijuana when using it was riskier: Jeff Bridges on Business Standard. Oscar-winning actor Jeff Bridges has revealed that he gave up smoking marijuana when it became illegal and using it was a lot riskier. The 63-year-old actor, who is always been honest about his marijuana use, said he does not smoke anymore,