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The Big Lebowski (1998)
Funny how a dinner story can wind up on the movie screen. Back in '89 Joel and Ethan Coen were in town shooting “Barton Fink,” and I had them over for dinner. The neighbors had moved out and left behind a rug, which I appropriated for my living room, joked about how it "...tied the room together..." all night long. Joel and Ethan thought it quite funny.

I kept talking about my friend "Big" Lew Abernathy, also a Vietnam Vet from Denton, Texas. He's a former private eye, mercenary and screenwriter. Big friend of Jim Cameron and Gale Anne Hurd and went diving with them. He's the basis of a character in "The Abyss.” Also, Cameron used him in "Titanic." In the opening he's operating the robot inside the submersible.

So, I'm telling the story about my car getting stolen and finding a kid's homework in the car, then tracking the kid and calling his folks. Lew and I went over there. Lew had a briefcase and inside it were baggies filled with stuff from the car. One baggie had a Whopper wrapper, another the kid's homework. The kid's father lived in the living room in a hospital bed. Older guy. Don't think he and the kid played a lot of baseball in the backyard. Turns out he had a thirty year career in Hollywood.

Joel and Ethan loved the story, and Lew and I became the basis for Walter, along with John Milius. There’s even lines of dialogue from the movie, things I said at dinner.

Careful with your writer friends, they’ll take your stories.


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