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By now, John Turturro is used to being recognized as Jesus Quintana, the flamboyant, purple-polyester-clad competitive bowling maven who stares down Jeff Bridges’ “the Dude” at the lanes in “The Big Lebowski.” The chameleon-like character actor has made multiple films with the Coen brothers, Spike Lee and even Michael Bay. But when he goes out in public, people always seem to recognize him as “the Jesus.”
But now he’s done one better: Turturro has taken matters into his own hands and spun off a film, “The Jesus Rolls,” in which Quintana isn’t just a scene-stealing cameo; he’s the main character.
Big - Lebowski - Turturro - Joel - Ethan
“Even I didn’t get ‘The Big Lebowski’ when I first read it,” Turturro recalls. Joel and Ethan Coen kept talking to Turturro about the project, begging him to do the role. According to the actor, “I was like, ‘This is like two seconds,’ but they said, ‘Well, yeah, but you’ll do something with it.’”
And so Turturro did, licking Jesus’ bowling ball before launching it down the lane, inventing an elaborate victory dance after the character rolls a strike, and following up that bit with a hilariously inappropriate way to polish his equipment. Turturro is in the movie for just two scenes, but it’s fair to say he makes a big impression.
Concert - Part - Turturro - Cymbals
“If this were a concert, I’d be like the crescendo part of it,” Turturro says. “I’m like the cymbals or something.”
As it happens, the inspiration for that memorable performance predates “The Big Lebowski.” Turturro first played a version of the character at the Public Theater. “It was a trilogy of one-acts, and the character I did was based on a person I had met through the writer, someone he knew. There was something kind of disarming about the guy. He had a very gentle voice, a high voice.”
Jesus - Quintana
And so Jesus Quintana, as...
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