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Steve Buscemi Knows Why The Big Lebowski Wasn't A Hit When It Came Out

An entire generation can't see Jeff Bridges without a pair of sunglasses, a messy robe, and carrying around a bowling ball, but it took some time for that image to become an immortal part of pop culture. Because while 1998's "The Big Lebowski" was shaping up to be a promising release, the initial response wasn't a total strike, with critics at the time unable to grasp its outlandish nature.  

Having seen the film's evolution in the public eye, Steve Buscemi, who starred opposite Jeff Bridge's Jeffrey Lebowski as bowling buddy Donny Kerabatsos, is happy to see "Lebowski" garnering the love it deserves. "I know that people love that film," he says in a 2015 interview with Indiewire. "It's always hard to relate funny stories. But I'm so happy that this is a film that has gotten a lot of attention over the years." When discussing why the Coen Brothers-directed cult classic perplexed critics, the actor believes that the directors' bold ambition spelled its fate. "...I think that initially, people, or critics anyway, were mystified by it. This was coming after 'Fargo'," Buscemi continues. "'Fargo' was their first film that really broke into the mainstream. Probably any other filmmakers would have followed that film with something as equally as commercial, and they decided to go with 'The Big Lebowski.'" 

Following the 1996 two-time Oscar winner with a movie as weird as "The Big Lebowski" might not have done the film many favors, but those same oddball qualities that alienated critics are what draw countless others to it today. 

The Big Lebowski birthed a literal religion

Whether or not you like "The Big Lebowski" is like, your opinion man, but there's no denying the film's place in the public consciousness. Not only has the crime comedy become popular with audiences thanks to successful midnight screenings and even an annual Kentucky festival known as Lebowski Fest, but critics have even lightened up, with some even retracting their previously quoted negative thoughts on the film.

Perhaps its most interesting impact is the creation of an entire religion based around the film's protagonist. Dubbed Dudeism, the belief system was started in 2005 by journalist Oliver Benjamin and blends beliefs from Jeffrey Lebowski's laid-back lifestyle and concepts from Ancient Greek and East Asian philosophers, more specifically acting as a modern-day version of Chinese Taoism. The community even cites notable figures prior to the film's release as practitioners of the religion, from the Buddha to Charlie Brown's dog Snoopy. While some see it as a mock religion, the community remains strong, with over 600,000 ordained Dudeist priests and a holiday, Day of the Dude, celebrated on the film's release date, March 6. 

Not all lovers of the film may be a part of such a belief system, but nevertheless, there's certainly a glue that holds all "Lebowski" fans together. Much like the Dude himself, rather than see the film for what it isn't, we all learned to abide by and appreciate it for all its offbeat offerings.