The Coen Brothers Finally Comment on That Long-Running ‘Big Lebowski’ Theory

By February 5, 2016

Well, I guess we can cross that one off the list.

The thing with The Coen Brothers is, you don’t really need to look all that hard in order to find some fan theories and rumors about different elements in their films, whether it be what the cat might symbolize in Inside Llewyn Davis or in this case, if Steve Buscemi’s Donny is just a figment of Walter’s (John Goodman) imagination in The Big Lebowski.

Many fans have supported the theory over the years, often pointing out that The Dude (Jeff Bridges) never really interacts with Donny in the film, and it’s almost always Walter talking to the character. Many believe that Donny might just be a friend from Vietnam that Walter is remembering, and The Dude is just too afraid to shatter Walter’s delusion.

In fact, Buscemi even shared his support for the theory as well, man, during a Big Lebowski reunion in which he claimed “Donny is just a figment of Walter’s imagination.” To which Goodman reportedly replied, fittingly, “Shut the fuck up, Donny!”

However, two people that have yet to weigh in on the matter are none other than the filmmakers themselves, Joel and Ethan Coen. While talking to The Huffington Post about the theory, The Coens reportedly replied with surprise:

Really? No, I haven’t heard that,” said Ethan Coen, “But doesn’t The Dude get covered by Donny’s ashes at the end of the movie?” With Joel adding,”So what’s in the urn?

When it was then mentioned that many believe the ashes aren’t real because The Dude doesn’t really react when they hit him, or that they may have been there all along, the filmmaking duo responded with the following:

Well, you could say any of the characters are imaginary if you wanna stretch it that far,” Ethan laughed.

Ethan just pointed out something that’s very important, which is that all the characters are imaginary. They were all imagined. They don’t exist in reality. They were just made up for the movie,” Joel added.

So it looks like that theory does not work out quite as perfectly as we might have expected, and some fans may have wanted. At least, according to the Coens themselves. That’s far from being the only theory in The Big Lebowski though, which continues to be not only one of the duo’s best films, but also one of the most beloved of all time. Considering the somewhat divisive reactions it received upon its release too, that’s saying something, man.

Make sure to keep checking back for more updates — right here on GeekNation.

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Alex Welch

Alex Welch

Alex dreams of meeting a girl with a yellow umbrella, and spends too much time* staring at a movie screen. His vocabulary consists mostly of movie quotes and 80s song lyrics. *Debatable
  • Bad Froggy

    “Shut the fuck up, Donny!”

  • David Johnson

    Raising Arizona will always be My #1 Coen Brothers Movie but The Big Lebowski is close to tied with it on My list!!!

  • ethomson92

    i thought this was disproven with

    “Phone’s ringing, Dude.”

    “Thank you, Donny.”