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The Dude is definitely the chillest, but Zen Master? Yes, says Jeff Bridges. At least he has a lot of fun thinking so. Bridges visited the SiriusXM Studios for a Town Hall hosted by Entertainment Weekly Magazine Editor Matt Bean, and inevitably his 1998 cult favorite came up.
“I’ve got a dear friend, Bernie Glassman, who’s a Zen master. He came to me one day and said, ‘Do you realize that The Dude in many Buddhist circles is considered a Zen master?’ I said, ‘What are you talking about, man?’ He says, ‘Oh yeah, you know, well look at it, who are the directors? The Coen brothers.’ And he says, ‘And all of these lines, like — ‘The Dude abides’ or ‘Shut the f–k up, Donny,’ ‘That’s just like your opinion, man’ — all of these are kind of modern-day koans,’ Bernie says. He says, ‘Hey, let’s write a book about that.’ So we did, The Dude and the Zen Master. Bernie and I went up to my place in Montana for a couple of weeks and just jammed on this subject and wrote a book about it. It was a lot of fun.”
And every bit of it is 100% Coen, according to Bridges. He can’t take credit for one word of wisdom.
“The Coen brothers, god what great writers, what great filmmakers. A lot of the finest artists, they give you the feel like there’s no effort, there’s nothing, it’s nothing. But these guys hone and fine tune a lot of the dialogue. Often people say, ‘So, you improvised a lot of that?’ No, there’s not a ‘Man’ or an F-word, extra one in there. I was so conscious of giving exact, saying exactly how they had it on the page.”