FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Which, sadly, no one reads.
"Has the play part of the book ever been performed?"
Yes, for some reason. I direct your attention to this page about the world premiere stage production in New York. Went all right, Dude's car got a little dinged up.
"Can I perform the play part?"
Not without the rights holders' permission. I do not have, and thus cannot and will not grant, the stage rights. If you're interested in performing it, drop an e-mail—I'll try to answer what questions I can answer, but more importantly, I'll let you know who to send your rights request to.
"What if they say no? What can you do to help me?"
Absolutely nothing. They own the rights, I don't. Hence the term 'rights holders'.
"When is the play coming to (insert city here)?"
I don't know.
"What do you want the world to know about the legal situation with this project?"
I prefer not to discuss it at all. But since it often comes up, I will simply say not to believe everything you read from secondhand sources. I make a point of not linking or promoting sources that include erroneous information or idle speculation.
"How the hell do you pronounce the author's name, anyway?"
Ber-TAH-chee. Rhymes with 'Versace'.
"So what are you, an unemployed English major?"
No, I'm an unemployed film major. (Northwestern University.) With a minor in English lit.
"How long did it take you to write this? Is it true you wrote it in a weekend?"
There are multiple answers to this question.
The first draft of the playtext was indeed written over one crazed weekend while everyone else was seeing Avatar. There then followed revisions, on and off in between work and the holidays. Call it about three weeks, on and off. The script was finalized in early 2010, posted on Wednesday January 6th (you got a date Wednesday, baby!) and went viral pretty much instantly.
There were further revisions while the play was happening in New York, and another look-see before submitting the manuscript for publication, and then my review of the proofs (during which very little changed). None of this takes into account the time spent on all the other parts of the book, mind you.
"What was your inspiration?"
Everyone always asks this question and the honest-to-God truth is that there is no answer. I just thought it might be funny. That's all. I know that's not a very interesting story.
"Okay, let's try another angle. What was the origin of the project?"
In November of 2009 I posted a silly little message on Facebook where, as a joke, I 'translated' a couple of famous lines from The Big Lebowski to amuse people. They amused pretty much only me. Undeterred, a month or so later I got bored and started typing.
In short, I made a joke announcing my intentions to write a script that I had no intention to write, and then I actually wrote it. It's not the first time that's happened.
"So you're on Facebook! Can I friend you?"
Yes, at this account.
"Does this thing have a The at the beginning of the title?"
I'm gonna be honest, it doesn't, but it should. I didn't include a The to make it easier to Tweet and such (I also may have been influenced by the MacDermot/Guare musical), and I continue not to use the The, but I don't complain when people stick it back in.
"Why did you decide to undertake this project—to actually write and post the script?"
I am a screenwriter, and sometimes it's very hard to get attention from the powers that be in the industry. I was frustrated with the trouble I was having getting interest in my screenplays from production companies, agents, managers, the whole deal. I decided what I needed was a publicity stunt. My hope was that the buzz from Two Gentlemen would help me get some attention for my 'real' projects. What I didn't expect was how huge a project it would become for me in and of itself!
"So did the publicity stunt work?"
Pretty much. Just, not in the way I expected, or even in the medium I expected. I certainly never once thought anyone would want to publish a book.
My screenwriting career, the one thing I was thinking of going in, was not directly affected. Or, at least, not so far. (It took two and a half years for anyone in Hollywood to give me a call, and that wouldn't have happened without the book!) It just goes to show that you never can expect what will happen.
"Did you ever think it would be performed or published?"
I sort of figured that if it got popular as I hoped it would, some people would perform it in, like, their college dorm basement. But performance was never the goal and never will be. I'm still frankly amazed that the New York stage show actually worked.
A book never so much as crossed my mind until the publishing industry approached me. It's like Lennon said, life is what happens when… I am the walrus.
"What is your favorite part of the book?"
"What is your least favorite part of the book?"
The play. Seriously, all the best jokes are in the annotations.
"Will you sign my book?"
Sure, if I'm at a signing in your area. Unfortunately I am not signing books by mail for the world at large at this time.
"What if I need your autograph for a charity auction or something equally noble?"
Ah, now you've got my attention. Hit up the Contact page and write to me, fill me in on the details.
"Do you have stairs in your house?"
You may know me there as Icon-Cat.
"The Anne Hathaway story in the afterword. Is it true?"
Every word. Wanna read the whole story? Buy it on Kindle, or get a free PDF or read online from my Web site.
Shakespeare and/or Lebowski Questions
"What is this book's relationship with Shakespeare's The Two Gentlemen of Verona?"
Pretty much nothing, aside from the title and a line or two I swiped. I've never actually read or seen Verona.
"Which Shakespeare plays are directly referenced or quoted in this work?"
The online version was missing a few. The text in the book references or quotes every play in the Shakespearean canon, as well as the Sonnets, Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece, and at least one nod to the apocrypha. You can follow along with this PDF. Note that sometimes the references / quotes aren't too blatant.
"Which plays are most often or most clearly directly referenced, quoted or parodied?"
Off the top of my head, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Much Ado About Nothing probably get the most shout-outs. But that's not a scientific count.
"What is your favorite Shakespeare play?"
My personal favorite is Much Ado About Nothing, but my vote for the best goes to The Tempest.
"I'm new to Shakespeare fandom and I'd like to know more. Where do you recommend I start?"
One of the real joys of this project is getting the uninitiated interested in Shakespeare. I find many of Kenneth Branagh's Shakespeare films accessible, particularly Much Ado About Nothing (yes, I'm biased), it's a good start. But don't overlook the opportunity to see Shakespeare theatre in your own community. Jump in blind! See a performance and support your local arts scene.
"So, you must be just the world's biggest fan of The Big Lebowski, huh?"
It's funny but while I dig the movie, I was never involved in fan culture before all this happened. Never had a White Russian before, never went to any kind of Lebowski fan gathering—I enjoyed watching and studying the film but that was the extent of it. I've had lots of new experiences now!
Among my favorites: meeting a couple of the actors, going to a Fest, writing for and appearing in books (besides my own!) and, perhaps strangest of all, becoming the proud owner of one of the dancers' costumes from the movie.
"Have any of the cast or crew of the movie read or heard of this?"
Quite a few. Here are some of the more worthwhile stories:
- Jeff Bridges: Two-part answer. A couple of reliable and respected insider sources confirmed for me that he read at least some of the online version, and enjoyed ("It worked, man, it really worked!"). As for the book, he has a copy, and he sent my editor a very nice letter. Class act all the way.
- John Goodman had some of the online version read to him, laughed and asked to see the whole thing; a copy was printed out and given to him. No word on if he's aware of the book.
- Julianne Moore is aware and amused that the piece exists; she laughed at the title. (Update, May 2013: I met her and offered her a copy of the book; "I have it, actually!" she said.)
- John Turturro: I met him in April 2014 and gave him a copy of the book. Very bright guy, incidentally.
- James Hoosier (Liam) received an autographed copy of the book from me at the cast reunion screening in New York.
- Asia Carrera ("Sherry") got an autographed book as a Christmas gift. She has a great sense of humor vis-a-vis the whole Lebowski thing, and was amused that her Elizabethan analogue had more lines than she did.
- Jeff Dowd (extra in bowling alley, and, of course, the inspiration for the Dude) visited The Little Lebowski Shop, where the book and other fine Lebowski products are sold, and presumably saw the book there—it's a small store, you can't miss anything.
"What will your next Shakespeare-movie mashup be?"
There probably won't be one. I have no plans to revisit this well again, unless I'm specifically hired to do so by the rights holders to the movie in question. (I'm aware that there exist other Shakespeare-movie mashups. I had nothing to do with them.)
"Will there be any Two Gentlemen events, meetups or what-have-yous at Lebowski Fest?"
I did a book signing at the New York Lebowski Fest in November 2010. It was an absolute blast. I returned in April 2013. Went all right, Dude's car got a little dinged up.