There’s no shortage of fantastic characters in the Coen brothers’ The Big Lebowski, but, even within a cast that includes a trio of marmot-packing nihilists, Philip Seymour Hoffman as a very professional assistant, and Julianne Moore as a nude trapeze-riding artist, John Turturro’s turn as Jesus “The Jesus” Quintana stands out.
When asked about the origins of his Lebowski role, Turturro explains that he had played a character named Chino in a play (La Puta Vida) who “was very close, like a cousin” to his portrayal of The Jesus, and would go on to inspire how he approached performing in the movie and its spin-off.
“It was a little part and I said, ‘Wow, what am I going to do with this?’” Turturro remembers thinking when the Coens talked to him about The Jesus. In order to figure out the best way to play the character, he was given “some extra time” and worked it out until his idea for the part ... went click.
“When you’re on for a little, short time, you have to really make it count,” he says, which is certainly the case for Turturro and the Coens’ depiction of a (probable pederast) bowler in a hairnet and purple jumpsuit who illustrates his points by extending a coke nail and shining rings.
“I didn’t realize they would put it together that way,” Turturro continues. “When I saw it, I was embarrassed the first time. But it’s a character that I love. I could just ... I could have a talk show as The Jesus. I could have all different people on, like Tom Brady.” (He then, fortunately, gives us a few seconds of how that interview might sound.)
Send Great Job, Internet tips to firstname.lastname@example.org