John Turturro’s long-awaited “Big Lebowski” sequel “The Jesus Rolls” was finally unveiled at the Rome Film Festival this month, although U.S. audiences will have to wait until the movie’s 2020 theatrical release for a chance to see it. Turturro marked the occasion in a recent interview with Variety in which he revealed the two sources he had to win over in order to get the rights to his “Big Lebowski” character: the Coen Brothers and Universal Pictures. Joel and Ethan Coen, who created the Jesus character for the beloved 1998 cult crime comedy, were easily won over by Turturro’s pitch. It appears when it came to the Coen brothers, all Turturro had to do was ask.
“I showed it to Joel and Ethan, and they said, ‘Yeah, this is the right [way to go]. Just like when we did ‘The Big Lebowski,’ it needs to be its own thing,’” Turturro said of getting the Coen brothers’ permission to move forward on “The Jesus Rolls.” Turturro has long been vocal about getting the blessing of his “Big Lebowski” directors, telling The Independent earlier this year, “They’re my friends, close friends, and were supportive when I said I wanna explore this character more. They said, you gotta do it cause we’re not doing it!”
Universal Pictures was tougher to win over. “The Big Lebowski” was released in March 1998 through Universal’s indie film label Gramercy Pictures. Variety reports Turturro’s conversations with Universal “were a bit more complicated” than what happened with the Coen brothers. Turturro revealed he had to agree to one stipulation in order to win over Universal and get the right to use his character for “The Jesus Rolls: “They just didn’t want me to kill the character.”
“The Jesus Rolls” finds Turturro reprising the role of Jesus Quintana, who shortly after being released from prison links up with two fellow misfits played by Bobby Cannavale and Audrey Tautou. The three characters make an enemy out of a gun-toting hairdresser (played by Jon Hamm) and must find away to escape the law and society. The cast also includes Christopher Walken and Susan Sarandon.
While the inclusion of the Jesus character makes Turturro’s movie a sequel to “The Big Lebowski,” the writer-director-actor has said the film was constructed more as a remake of Bertrand Blier’s sexually-charged 1974 French movie “Going Places” than a traditional sequel. Screen Media has already announced a 2020 U.S. release for “The Jesus Rolls.”