Abiding in Style

Happy Birthday to Jeff Bridges, ‘Big Lebowski’ Star and Ultimate Pendleton Sweater Model!

We pitted the Dude against Bridges’s role in ‘The Last Unicorn.’

By Margaret Seiler

Jeff Bridges might have won his Oscar for Crazy Heart, but that film's Bad Blake is far from the most iconic role for the actor, born December 4, 1949. The Hollywood Theatre has never sold out its main auditorium for multiple screenings of Crazy Heart, as it has for the Rankin-Bass animated classic The Last Unicorn, in which Bridges voices the sword-wielding, love-struck Prince Lir.

And Crazy Heart has no chance of inspiring anything to match the multicity festivals or whole new world religion spawned by the Dude in The Big Lebowski. Bridges’s character in the 1998 Coen brothers film even brought an old Pendleton cardigan called the Westerley out of retirement. (Holiday shopping alert: Pendleton is offering 25 percent off sweaters, including the Dude’s favorite, through December 7.)

Aside from one of them having a highly coveted sweater, how do Lir and the Dude measure up against each other? We did a side-by-side comparison a few years back, at one of those magical times when The Last Unicorn was on at the Hollywood and Bridges’s real-life band, the Abiders, was swinging through town. (Remember sold-out movie screenings? Remember live music?)

Separated by era, place, audience, and the fact that one of them is a cartoon, they have more in common than you might expect. 

Name     Jeffrey Lebowski
a.k.a. the Dude
  Prince Lir
Parentage     Unknown, no relation to the other Jeffrey Lebowski  Unknown, a foundling, no relation to King Haggard
Existential justification  "Sometimes there’s a man—I won't say a hero, ’cause what’s a hero?—but sometimes there’s a man … sometimes there’s a man who, well, he’s the man for his time and place, he fits right in there."  When magic fails, "that’s what heroes are for. That’s exactly what heroes are for."
Pastimes     Bowling, White Russians, weed, baths, takin’ ’er easy for all us sinners Battling giants, ogres, black knights, undertaking terrible tasks, contemplating fatal riddles 
Soundtrack   Creedence  America
Compatriots   Walter Sobchak, Vietnam vet and convert to Judaism; Donny who loved bowling  Schmendrick the magician, Molly Grue
Foes     Nihilists, the Jesus, "nice" marmots, the Eagles  Boredom, the Red Bull
Mysterious woman who is naked when they meet   “Vaginal” artist Maude Lebowski (Julianne Moore)   The Lady Amalthea, who’s quickly forgetting that she’s really a unicorn (voiced by Mia Farrow) 
Task he must accomplish for his fucking lady friend     Not letting her father get away with his scheme, impregnation Not letting his father get away with his scheme, freeing her fellow unicorns from their ocean prison
Furniture plot point  The rug. It really tied the room together.  A clock you can walk through
Mantra "The Dude abides." "I love whom I love."

Are there other similarities that we missed? Which one is your favorite?