While the Coens’ collaborations with other leading men have met with mixed results, Jeff Bridges entered into the spirit of the Coens’ twisted vision with gusto. Bridges so enjoyed portraying Jeffrey Lebowski in The Big Lebowksi (1998) that he appears to have permanently taken on the characteristics of everyone’s favourite shiftless stoner, bowling enthusiast and amateur sleuth.
Bridges and ‘The Dude’ have become inextricable. Though he has only worked with the Coens twice, there are few better examples of an actor connecting to the material on a fundamental level. Bridges seems to innately grasp the logic that governs the Coens’ universe, sharing the brothers’ sense of mischief and mayhem. Bridges has become a slacker icon as ‘The Dude’, and his portrayal of the grizzled Rooster Cogburn in True Grit (2010) is on its way to attaining similarly exalted status.
McDormand has been a permanent fixture of the Coens’ universe since her appearance in their debut feature, Blood Simple (1984); rising with the brothers to ever-greater creative heights.
Her status as the ultimate Coen brothers regular is due as much to her deft comic timing as her marriage to Joel Coen. Any cries of nepotism are quickly dispelled when one sees the breadth of her contribution to the brothers’ body of work.
From her triumphant central performance in Fargo (1996), to a memorable secondary turn in Raising Arizona (1987), to uncredited cameos in Miller’s Crossing (1990) and Barton Fink (1991), McDormand has lent her talents to roles big and small. She is an inherently generous performer who is often content to take a backseat and allow others to flourish, but given the chance she can steal a scene with a single gesture or expression
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