Jeff Dowd, the dude who inspired The Dude, to appear in person with The Big Lebowski at Film on the Rocks

Somewhere out there, The Dude abides, taking 'er easy for all us sinners -- no, seriously: There is an actual Dude. His name is Jeff Dowd, his nickname is The Dude, and he was the Coen Brothers's inspiration for their most famous and beloved character by the same name, played by Jeff Bridges in The Big Lebowski. That instant classic provides the kickoff for this year's run of Film on The Rocks, and the night is already a pretty big deal, being as the recently dismantled Informants are reuniting just for the show -- but the deal just got a little bigger: The Dude himself is stopping through to make a personal appearance. And he is expected to abide.

As it turns out, His Dudeness is a personal friend of PeaceJam founders Ivan Suvanjieff and Dawn Engle, who met him when they were promoting PEACEJAM, a documentary about their organization that follows the lives of five Colorado high school students and how they are impacted by violence. "It was our first film together as a husband-and-wife team," Engle recalls -- Suvanjieff had been making films for some years. (On a side note, he'll be working on another one this weekend about the purported second coming tomorrow, which he's calling Jesus vs. Bono, and in which he seeks to discover who among the two would win at arm-wrestling.)

"It was in the San Diego Film Festival. A friend of a friend knew Jeff Dowd and asked him to help promote the film, and he volunteered to help for free," Engle continues; just for a little background, film promoting is actually one of Duderinos many jobs -- he was instrumental in starting Sundance, for example, and it's also how he met the Coens. He's also a little more activist than his film portrayal suggests, which explains his willingness to help out a good cause. "That's just the kind of guy he is. He really is the kind of dude who would worry about 'that poor woman,'" Engle jokes. "He's just a really kind and caring dude, and he's a huge supporter of PeaceJam." For a little more about the kind of dude The Dude is, check out the short movie about him below.

So when Suvanjieff saw that The Big Lebowski was opening Film on the Rocks this year, he called up Dowd/Dude and asked if he'd be able to make an appearance -- in fact he would. "He actually came out to years ago for Film on the Rocks, and it was their biggest night of the whole years. A blowout, over-the-moon success. He stayed in our little cabin near Red Rocks, and we just had an epic party, and it was amazing," Engle says. "So Ivan saw it in the paper that they were doing The Big Lebowski again, and we called him up and said, hey, do you want to come out again? And he said, 'Yeah, I'm on a flight from New York to L.A. that day, and I can do it as a stopover. So it was really just luck that it worked out."

And so it abides.

The Big Lebowski plays Tuesday, May 31 at the Denver Film Society's Film on the Rocks, with music from the Itchy-O Marching Band and The Informants starting at 6:45 p.m. Tickets are $12, and in view of the news, are likely to sell out. So this is one thing you won't want to be too lazy about.

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Jef Otte
Contact: Jef Otte