There has never been, and likely will never be, another movie like The Big Lebowski-- a comedy homage to the film noir set in the early ‘90s. Instead of a wise-cracking detective, however, the protagonist was a bumbling burnout stoner who ventured out of the house in his bathrobe.
Making the movie even more unique, the writer/director tandem The Coen Brothers added in several Busby Berkeley musical numbers, a foray into the adult film industry, parodies of the art world, a heavy dose of league bowling, and a ferret.
The cult classic movie is a staple of the midnight movie circuit. It has its own annual conventions for fans called Lebowski Fest and The Dude Abides. It is a critically beloved movie, and has a classic soundtrack of classic rock staples.
Released in 1998, there has been a significant amount of time for the actors in The Big Lebowski to either rise up, fall from grace, further cement their legacies, or (in some unfortunate cases) pass away. With that in mind, we will now take a look at Where Are They Now: The Cast Of The Big Lebowski.
18 John Goodman
John Goodman had been one of the more recognizable actors coming into the filming of The Big Lebowski. Having acted since 1983, he was already a Coen Brothers regular (Raising Arizona, Barton Fink, The Hudsucker Proxy).
He had also already played both Fred Flintstone and Babe Ruth, and was one of the most famous actors on TV for his portrayal of Dan in Roseanne. In The Big Lebowski he played Walter Sobchak-- a Vietnam vet with a penchant for overreacting, who imposes himself into the many adventures of The Dude.
Goodman has continued acting in high profile movies and shows since 1998. Most famously, he provides the voice for Sully in the Monsters, Inc. series. He also went on to work with the Coen Brothers in O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Inside Llewyn Davis.
17 Aimee Mann
People often forget that Aimee Mann was in The Big Lebowski. She had a very small role in the film, credited only as “Nihilist Woman.” Mann was primarily a musician before and after Lebowski. In fact, she only has 10 acting credits on her IMDB page-- many of them from very small roles.
Originally famous for being in the New Wave band ‘Til Tuesday, she went on to perform as a solo artist in the early ‘90s.
Since Lebowski she has continued both acting and recording music. She has released 7 albums since the movie, making the Billboard charts with her 2008 album @#%&*! Smilers. Mann was nominated for both an Oscar and a Grammy for her song “Save Me” for the movie Magnolia.
She appeared in and performed on Buffy the Vampire Slayer in 2002. She voiced the character Opal for an episode of the cartoon Steven Universe. Mann also played herself in a very funny performance in Portlandia. Her most recent album came out this year, and is called Mental Illness.
16 Steve Buscemi
Steve Buscemi’s acting career dates back to 1985 in a movie called The Way It Is. By the time of Lebowski, he’d already had several memorable performances from playing Mr. Pink in Reservoir Dogs, Garland Greene in Con Air, and Rex in the heavy metal cult comedy Airheads.
He was also no stranger to working with the Coen Brothers, having already performed in Miller’s Crossing, Barton Fink, The Hudsucker Proxy, and Fargo. In Lebowski, he played the lovable punching bag Theodore Donald Kerabatsos (or Donnie, to his friends).
Buscemi has had a number of memorable roles since 1998. He played Seymour in cult classic Ghost World, he voiced the antagonist Randall Boggs in Monsters, Inc, and he was Tony Blundetto in 14 episodes of The Sopranos.
He also played private detective Lenny Wosniak on 30 Rock. In perhaps his defining role, he starred as Nucky Thompson in the HBO series Boardwalk Empire. In addition to acting, Buscemi has directed a number of TV shows including Oz, The Sopranos, Nurse Jackie, 30 Rock, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Portlandia.
15 Sam Elliott
With nearly 100 acting credits to his name, chances are you instantly recognize Sam Elliott by his distinctive look, mustache, and voice, even if you don’t know his name. Sam Elliott got his feature film start with a bit role in the 1969’s Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and his perfect fit into Westerns has stuck ever since.
In The Big Lebowski Elliott played The Stranger-- a mystical and mysterious cowboy figure who acts as the narrator, speaking directly to the audience as well as interacting with The Dude.
He is probably best remembered for playing Virgil Earp in 1993’s Tombstone. He was also on the cover of Playgirl in 1979 with his wife Katharine Ross, being billed as “Hollywood’s Sexiest Couple.”
Since Lebowski, Elliott has taken on a number of projects. He has acted in two marvel movies: 2003’s Hulk and 2007’s Ghost Rider. He also had a three episode stint on Parks and Recreation. He is the star of the Netflix’s original series The Ranch, as well as the voice of the Coors beer commercials.
14 Asia Carrera
Actress Asia Carrera (born Jessica Steinhauser) had a very, very small, but appropriate role in The Big Lebowski. She appeared opposite Bunny La Joya (Bunny Lebowski) and Karl Hungus (Uli Kunkel) in the adult video shown in the movie, called Logjammin’. Asia was, in fact, a famous adult actress. The Big Lebowski is her only real mainstream credit outside of documentaries about the adult industry.
Carrera retired from adult films in 2003, and has been honored both as AVN Performer of the Year and as a member of the AVN Hall of Fame. On leaving the industry, she married nutrition/health writer Don Lemmon, who passed away in an automobile accident in 2006.
In 2014, Carrera (going by Asia Lemmon) became one of just a handful of people photographed for their driver’s license wearing a colander on their head as part of the Pastafarian "religious" movement. The actress has also battled alcoholism and was arrested on a DUI in 2015. Additionally, Carrera is a member of Mensa International.
13 David Thewlis
David Thewlis played a very memorable, if small, role in The Big Lebowski as Knox Harrington. As a friend of Maude Lebowski’s, Harrington is a video artist with a shaved head, a pencil mustache, and an obnoxious, weasley laugh. He does not play a vital role in the movie, but his scenes are among the funniest in the film.
Over the years he has won several awards for his acting, including Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival for Naked in 1993.
He was also nominated for a Golden Raspberry for Worst Supporting Actor for his role in 2006’s Basic Instinct 2. Thewlis has stayed extremely busy since playing Harrington. He has done voice work for the videogame World of Warcraft (as Darius Crowley) and Family Guy.
He was Michael Stone in Anomalisa. He plays V.A. Varga in the FX series Fargo. He is perhaps best known, however, for playing Remus Lupin in the Harry Potter movies. Most recently, he can be seen playing Sir Patrick in 2017’s Wonder Woman.
12 Jon Polito
Jon Polito was a veteran character actor who has amassed over 200 acting credits between movies and television. In The Big Lebowski, he played Da Fino, the private detective who was caught snooping by The Dude.
Many of his most memorable roles came as part of the ensemble casts of Coen Brothers movies, as he appeared in Miller’s Crossing, Barton Fink, The Hudsucker Proxy, and The Man Who Wasn’t There in addition to The Big Lebowski.
He provided voice work for Batman Beyond, Avatar: The Last Airbender, the Thundercats reboot, Ultimate Spider-Man, and the Arkham video game series. He also had a string of appearances on TV shows ranging from The Gilmore Girls to Masters of Horror to It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.
His last big film role was as Banducci in Tim Burton’s Big Eyes. Jon Polito passed away in September 2016 from cancer.
11 Torsten Voges
A the least recognizable of the three Nihilists (his character’s name is Franz, although they don’t really say it in the film), Torsten Voges is no less funny than the rest. He lent an air of authenticity to the villainous Kraftwerk-esque band, as he actually is a German actor.
He is not exactly a prolific actor, and has just over 40 credits to his name. He got his start in the 1978 German film Moritz, lieber Moritz.
Since 1998’s The Big Lebowski, Voges' acting roles have been sporadic. He played Fidel in 9 episodes of the show Eastwick. He played Dr. Lars in the Judd Apatow movie Funny People. He has also voiced German soldiers in a number of video games, including Call of Duty: World at War and Wolfenstein: The New Order.
10 Peter Stormare
Although The Big Lebowski casts that thick accent as being German, actor Peter Stormare is actually from Sweden. As another one of those actors you have undoubtedly seen dozens of times (thanks to his nearly 200 credits), Stormare has played a number of types of roles.
He is also a Shakespearean actor, and former Associate Director of the Tokyo Globe Theater. In The Big Lebowski he plays Uli Kunkel, a German Nihilist and member of a Kraftwerk-esque band called Autobahn. The character also appeared in adult films as Karl Hungus. Prior to Lebowski, Stormare also appeared in the Coen Brothers’ Fargo.
Stormare has continued acting in a number of movies and shows since Lebowski. He has provided voices for Adventure Time, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Transformers. He has also voiced Dracula and Mister Freeze, and has done voices for the video games Quake 4 and Destiny.
He also founded a record label called Stormvox, and released music with a band called Blonde from Fargo. He can currently be seen as Russian god Czernoborg in American Gods.
Rounding out the trio of Nihilists is the rocker, Flea (born Michael Peter Balzary). Best known as the virtuosic bassist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Flea had a fairly significant acting resume even before The Big Lebowski.
His first credited role came as Razzle in the cult classic punk rock drama Suburbia in 1983. He then notably played Needles in Back to the Future II & III, and Budd in My Own Private Idaho. As well as his memorable role in Lebowski, 1998 also saw him appearing in the Psycho remake and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
Since that time, he found a very long-tenured voice job playing Donnie Thornberry in The Wild Thornberrys (show and movie). He also is slated to appear in the upcoming Baby Driver.
As far as music goes, he has recorded several multi-platinum albums with the Chili Peppers. He also started Atoms for Peace with Thom Yorke of Radiohead. He co-founded the Silverlake Conservatory of Music. As an avid sports fan, he has also written articles about the Lakers.
8 Tara Reid
While her screen time was limited, Tara Reid had an important role in The Big Lebowski as the walking, talking MacGuffin Bunny Lebowski (aka Bunny La Joya aka Dawn Knudsen). Reid had been acting in commercials and had a few other credits by the time Lebowski rolled around (including a 5 episode stint on Days of Our Lives). In 1998 she also appeared as Sasha in the slasher film Urban Legend.
Following Lebowski Reid had several high-profile roles and was, for lack of a better term, a star. She appeared in Cruel Intentions, the American Pie series, Van Wilder, and Josie and the Pussycats. She later had a recurring role on Scrubs.
She became a target of the tabloid press following broken engagements to Carson Day and an internet entrepreneur named Michael Axtmann. She also famously was the victim of "failed" plastic surgeries.
Reid has also had battles with substance abuse. However, she has managed to turn things around and carve a niche for herself, starring in the Sharknado TV movies and a series of celebrity reality shows.
7 Jerry Haleva
One of the more interesting stories behind The Big Lebowski cast is the tale of Jerry Haleva. If you haven’t heard his name before, you’re not alone. Haleva portrayed Saddam Hussein in The Dude's dream sequence. While he only has a few seconds of screentime, the role is very well-remembered by fans of the movie.
Unlike the other actors on this list, Haleva is not a career actor. He was working on a California senator’s staff when a photo of Hussein circulated with a caption that implied Haleva strongly resembled the Iraqi dictator. As Hussein became an integral part of current events, Haleva found a fair bit of work just for looking like Saddam.
He has a total of six acting credits, and every single one of them is as Saddam Hussein (including in the Hot Shots movies). He appeared in just three movies after Lebowski. Haleva is currently working as president of Sergeant Major Associates.
6 John Turturro
John Turturro is known as something of an actor’s actor. Turturro got his start in an uncredited role in 1980’s Raging Bull, and has appeared in several well-remembered movies over the years including To Live and Die in L.A., The Color of Money, and Do the Right Thing.
Turturro is a frequent actor in the movies of Spike Lee. By the time The Big Lebowski came around he had also worked with the Coen Brothers in Barton Fink (playing the title character) and Miller’s Crossing. Turturro’s role in The Big Lebowski is one of the most memorable-- he plays the bowling league nemesis and bowling ball-groper Jesus Quintana.
In 1998 Turturro also played Joey Knish in Rounders. Turturro, in addition to acting, is also a writer and director (most recently of Fading Gigolo). He co-starred in the Coen Brothers’ O Brother, Where Art Thou? in 2000. He went on to win an Emmy as Ambrose Monk in Monk.
Interestingly, his next directorial effort will be a spin-off of The Big Lebowski called Going Places. It will focus on Turturro’s character, Jesus.
5 David Huddleston
David Huddleston started acting in 1960 on the television show Shotgun Slade. He appeared in 1974’s Blazing Saddles and played Santa Claus in the 1985 movie Santa Claus: The Movie. A true character actor, he appeared in over a dozen famous TV shows from Mary Tyler Moore and Gunsmoke, to The Wonder Years and Star Trek: The Next Generation, before appearing in The Big Lebowski. It was his only collaboration with the Coen Brothers.
Following the movie, he continued working as a character actor and appeared in shows such as Gilmore Girls, The West Wing, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. He also lent his voice to a couple of episodes of The Wild Thornberrys and appeared in the film adaptation of the play, The Producers.
He passed away in 2016 at the age of 85.
4 Philip Seymour Hoffman
Philip Seymour Hoffman, while nowhere near the household name he would become, had already had his breakout role just prior to The Big Lebowski-- when he played Scotty J. in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights.
He had also appeared in Twister the year before, and had been acting sporadically in movies and shows, dating back to an appearance on Law & Order in 1991. One of his best years was 1998, however. He played the uptight toady Brandt in Lebowski and had a very memorable role in Happiness.
Just after Lebowski, Hoffman went on a tear that included a co-starring role in Flawless, Magnolia, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Almost Famous, and more. In 2005, he won an Oscar for Best Actor for Capote.
He received nominations for Best Supporting Actor for Charlie Wilson’s War, Doubt, and The Master. In 2014 he died unexpectedly from an overdose at age 46. His last film appearance, posthumously, was as Plutarch Heavensbee in the final Hunger Games movie.
3 Mark Pellegrino
This goon has done quite well for himself. Mark Pellegrino, known in the movie as “Blond Treehorn Thug,” is perhaps the biggest example of an unknown making it big. All the other actors that have had some sort of name recognition over the years weren’t as completely unknown prior to filming The Big Lebowski.
While he had been acting since his role as a punk in L.A. Law in 1987, Pellegrino hadn’t exactly been on anyone’s radar. His portrayal of a dumb adult film actor-turned-goon, however, immediately set the funny and tense tone of the entire of the film.
Since 1998, he has steadily increased his profile. He has constantly been working since Lebowski, but found his first large role as a recurring character on Dexter named Paul Bennett. He then played Jacob on the show Lost, and James Bishop on Being Human. His biggest role, however, has been as Lucifer in Supernatural. He appears as Deputy Standall in 13 Reasons Why.
2 Julianne Moore
While not as prolific as some of the other actors on the list, Julianne Moore has racked up 85 acting credits since her start in 1987. Prior to her portrayal of the performance artist Maude Lebowski in The Big Lebowski, her biggest roles both came in 1997 when she played Sarah Harding in The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Amber Waves in Boogie Nights (for which she received a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination).
Moore also appeared in the shot-for-shot Psycho remake in 1998 (have you noticed how many of the movies in this list overlap with multiple actors?). Other notable roles for Moore included 1999’s Magnolia, 2001’s Hannibal, 2002’s The Hours, 2006’s Children of Men, 2014’s Still Alice, and the Hunger Games series.
She has been nominated for several Oscars, and finally won (as Best Actress) for Still Alice. Moore will be appearing in the upcoming Kingsman: The Golden Circle. She is also a New York Times Best-Selling children’s author.
1 Jeff Bridges
We had to finish off with The Dude himself, right? Jeff Bridges, son of acting legend Lloyd Bridges and brother of veteran actor Beau Bridges, began acting in 1951 as an infant. By the time The Big Lebowski had rolled around, Bridges was already an accomplished actor.
He’d received three Oscar nominations prior to Lebowski, and had appeared in classic movies, such as the 1982 Tron and The Fisher King. In 1998, in his first collaboration with the Coen Brothers, he starred as Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski, a role that has been inexorably tied to the man since (not that he seems to mind).
Bridges re-teamed with the Coen Brothers, starring as Rooster Cogburn in their remake of True Grit. It earned him one of the four Oscar Nominations post-Lebowski. He won a Best Actor Oscar in 2009 for Crazy Heart.
Bridges has the distinction of being the first villain of the modern MCU, playing Obadiah Stane in Iron Man. Also a writer, Bridges wrote a book called The Dude and the Zen Master, and has published a book of photography as well. If that weren’t enough, Bridges is also a recording country music artist, and in 2015 released a spoken word/meditation album called Sleeping Tapes.
Are there any The Big Lebowski actors who we missed? Let us know in the comments!
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