EXCLUSIVE: 25 Years After 'The Big Lebowski' Premiere, Real-Life 'The Dude' Talks Weed, Coen Brothers, Jeff Bridges And More

By Cristian Baral and Santiago Alonso via El Planteo.

Psychedelic, stoner, corrosive and funny: all of these adjectives fit perfectly with "The Big Lebowski" (1998), one of the most iconic films of the 1990s. As the century came to an end, the brothers Ethan and Joel Coen built a small but colorful universe of unforgettable characters.

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the premiere of this unforgettable and stainless film that, despite the passage of time, is gaining more and more fans, we talked to Jeff "The Dude" Dowd, the man who served as inspiration for the iconic leading character.

Man, Hero, And Friend

In this story, everything and everyone revolves around "The Dude."

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"The Dude", as he was known in his dubbed version for Spain and Latin America, is a scruffy, unemployed, White Russian cocktail aficionado and stoner, whose passion lies in enjoying his time as best he can.

For The Dude, played by an impeccable Jeff Bridges, spending his time "as best he can" is all about drinking, bowling with his friends and smoking pot in solitude.

However, that tranquility is short-lived: a couple of thugs mistake him for millionaire tycoon Jeff Lebowski. When our "Dude" goes in search of his namesake, protesting the beating he's received (and, more importantly, a urinated rug), the wealthy Lebowski offers him the chance to rescue his kidnapped wife in exchange for a juicy reward.

The Great Jeff Dowd: The (Real) Dude

"The Dude" has its origins in Jeff Dowd, a man of a restless personality who, over the years, contributed much to independent cinema.

To name a few of his pivotal roles in celluloid, he contributed as producer and distributor to the first productions of directors such as Spike Lee and Jim Jarmusch, and was also one of the first names Robert Redford thought of to shape the Sundance Film Festival, the most popular showcase event for independent film in the United States and the world.

In other words, an "indie" agitator before that term reached all of us.

In that crusade to accompany new filmmakers taking their first steps, Jeff came across the Coen brothers and, thanks to him, the filmmakers made their big screen debut with the neo-noir thriller Blood Simple (1984).

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Thus was born a bond of mutual affection that continues to this day, but before that, more precisely 25 years ago, was consolidated as a tribute in "The Big Lebowski."

Face To Face With 'The Dude'.

A cult film, movie set myths, his penchant for marijuana, an ambitious project that includes launching his own brand of CBD: "The Dude" breaks the fourth wall and comes face-to-face with us from his Los Angeles home.

-Did you have the opportunity to witness the film set of "The Big Lebowski"?

-I went to the set many times. In particular, a lot of the house scenes. It was a lot of fun to do that. It was really exciting to share many moments with the likes of Steve Buscemi, Julianne Moore, John Goodman, John Turturro and Jeff Bridges, to name a few.

-What was it like working with Jeff Bridges? Bridges himself played Lebowski, inspired by you, and it was said behind closed doors on the set, on several occasions, that he made a great version of you. Was that really the case?

-We have a very good relationship with Jeff. In fact, we have appeared on several occasions at the "Lebowski Fests", the events held by fans of the film that are held around the world. Also, being contemporaries, we have had very similar experiences throughout our lives, as well as in the film industry. Without a doubt, Jeff's performance was really very good. He captured the essence of the Dude, as a completely free being. His performance was incredible.

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-"The Big Lebowski" is one of the films that has gained the biggest following in recent years. Conventions around the world, iconic pop culture characters, all the results of a film that, curiously, in its year of release was not as successful as it turned out to be over time. Why do you think this happened?

-Let me start by saying that not all the critics were against the film, one of them was Roger Ebert [one of the world's most renowned critics, who passed away a decade ago]. The film didn't suffer from negative reviews at all, at most some might not like it. Basically, it had its success thanks to the fans, but also to the publicity it had behind it. Beyond the great performances, it is above all an entertaining movie. When you watch it more than once it enters into deeper levels of analysis and fun, which has a certain appeal as well.

-What's the funniest thing about "The Big Lebowski"?

-The thing about "The Big Lebowski" is that it gets more and more entertaining the more you watch it again. That would explain why it arouses so much fanaticism in the world. It's also an interactive film, which is something that doesn't happen with the rest of the films. People who saw the film show up at conventions dressed as the characters!

-What is your current relationship with the Coen brothers?

-I definitely consider myself part of their story. I helped them launch many of their films. We've spent a lot of time together on set, which gave us time and gave them time to extract from me characteristics of the character of "The Dude". We are still in constant contact. Even though I live in Santa Monica and they live in New York, we still keep in touch and have a great affection for each other.

-What is Dude's Dream, your CBD brand, all about?

-When I watch NBC, CBS, CNN, I notice there's a lot of advertising for drugs to treat diseases, even ones I've never heard of and you guys probably haven't either. In a couple of weeks we will be launching everything worldwide, but these are things that can be sold initially on the Internet and then remnants will come in the future for other countries. A lot of this stuff works very well. A lot of the things we did were experimental and they worked well, they have no side effects. People will be able to get Dude's Dream online and also in person.

-What is your favorite strain of marijuana?

-It depends on the day. When it's at night I like indica for its relaxing power. While I don't smoke when I work during the day, at night I like to do it, and that's when sativa comes in. While I'm not a fan of strain labels, I'm not a fan of big brands either, far from it. The reality is that I find marijuana very flavorful.

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