Things We Saw Today: Magneto, Mystique, and Psylocke Vs. ‘The Big Lebowski’

26 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘The Big Lebowski’ live read with Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence.

Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Olivia Munn, and Patton Oswalt were part of an all-star cast that took part in Jason Reitman’s live read of The Big Lebowski on Friday in Montreal. As part of the massive Just For Laughs comedy festival currently underway in Montreal, director Jason Reitman assembled a powerhouse pop-culture crossover team featuring the casts of Silicon Valley and X-Men: Apocalypse (currently shooting in Montreal) to bring the Coen brothers’ stoner noir classic to life on stage.

Michael Fassbender put his magnetic superpowers aside Friday night to play stoner icon “the Dude” in a reading of “The Big Lebowski” in Montreal, but it was Patton Oswalt’s performance as Walter Sobchak (the role originated by John Goodman) that stole the show. The lineup featured X-Men actors Jennifer Lawrence as Maude Lebowski, Olivia Munn as Bunny Lebowski, and Michael Fassbender as The Dude himself, while the Silicon Valley cast provided Martin Starr as Jesus Quintana, TJ Miller as Brandt, and show creator Mike Judge turning on his best southern-fried drawl as The Stranger (repeatedly described in the original stage directions as “a Sam Elliott type”).

Fassbender played The Dude, Patton Oswalt played Walter and Lawrence took on Julianne Moore’s original role of Maude Lebowski, according to The Guardian. As such, the fest managed to lure X-women Jennifer Lawrence (who performed Julianne Moore’s Maude) and Olivia Munn (stepping in as Tara Reid’s Bunny) to join Oswalt and a handful of “Silicon Valley” players — T.J. Miller (as Brandt), Mae Whitman (as Donny), Mike Judge (as The Stranger) mega star Jennifer Lawrence (as Maude), and the Michael Fassbender (in the role made famous by Jeff Bridges). The cast took to their roles with immeasurable delight, and Fassbender in particular seemed to relish the opportunity to work himself into a character that’s just a little less intense than the roles he’s typically known for.

Luckily, it was clear from the start that Fassbender was committed to doing the role of The Dude (His Dudeness/Duder/El Duderino) justice — he wore cargo shorts, a plain t-shirt, a pair of had-them-for-years flip-flops, and, of course, a robe. Rolling on stage in a ratty bathrobe and khaki shorts, Fassbender appeared to be playing the Lebowski Challenge, lighting a J every time his character in the movie did so (sadly, this correspondent was unable to confirm if the beverage involved was in fact a Caucasian). Fassbender walked on stage, to a standing ovation from the audience, wearing shorts and a bathrobe with cigarettes and a White Russian in hand, according to VF, and delivered a few lines from Kenny Rogers and the First Edition’s “Just Dropped In.” When Lawrence first sat down, she asked the front row audience if they were able to see up her skirt before later pretending to smoke away on cigarettes while taking on Maude during the performance. The actor dropped into his spaced-out inflection so naturally that if it weren’t for an occasional hint of Irish brogue, it often sounded like Jeff Bridges himself was in the room. After all, you don’t go to a script live read to see a seamless word-by-word account of a movie, with the parts done exactly how they were originally.

Lawrence provided an excellent mid-Atlantic-tinged read of Julianne Moore’s Maude, complete with endearingly on-brand stumbles over words like “satyriasis” and “vaginal” (having to leave stage at one point, J-Law over-exaggeratedly snuck out like a Looney Tunes character). Miller put his own spin on the late Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Brandt and left the audience rolling, particularly during the scene where Brandt is present for The Dude’s flirtation with Bunny. The dialogue of the German Nihilists took on a vaudeville, Three Stooges-like quality when excitedly bounced between Miller, Starr and Whitman, and in between screaming bellows Patton Oswalt politely asked Reitman if he could use the oft-mocked, censored for broadcast version of one line: “This is what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps!” Overall, the delight of new performers expertly stepping up into these beloved roles just reinforced what a tremendously unique and excellent script the Coens created with Lebowski. Photo by Dan Dion.) With some of the more popular titles in the series (such as “American Beauty” and “The Apartment”), Reitman has been known to repeat a Live Read with an entirely new ensemble.

Oswalt, too, earned numerous instances of thunderous applause that nearly rivaled those given to surprise guest Dennis Quaid, who read the part of Big Lebowski. Despite the radiant star-power of the live read’s cast, the giddy anticipation of the lines to come, rather than who necessarily was saying them, was the real star of the night, and a great reminder of just how iconic almost every sound and image in this film has become. It goes without saying that Fassbender brought a very different energy to the role, though the British star shed his accent and demonstrated his serious-actor commitment by ambling onstage in boxers and a ratty old bathrobe, carrying a cocktail in a plastic cup (en lieu of the Dude’s signature Caucasian) and smoking three hand-rolled jazz cigarettes over the course of the evening. “I think Fassbender went a little too Method on this one. As you’ll recall from the film we first hear from the character when she leaves a voicemail on The Dude’s answering machine, explaining that she was the person who stole his rug. The evening’s most popular surprise was the last-minute unveiling of Dennis Quaid as the wheelchair-bound Big Lebowski — another convenient get, since Quaid has been in Montreal shooting the upcoming Crackle series “The Art of More.” Audiences were also surprised to discover that Jennifer Lawrence can’t read.

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