John Turturro talking about Jesus Quintana

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Actor John Turturro describes how the character of Jesus from Joel and Ethan Coen's The Big Lebowski was created.
John Turturro as Jesus Quintana, an opponent of the Dude's and Walter's team in the bowling league semifinals match. This eccentric, Latino, trash-talking North Hollywood resident speaks with a thick Cuban-American accent, and often refers to himself in the third person, insisting on the English pronunciation of his name (GEE-zus) rather than the Spanish (Heh-SOOS). "The Jesus", as he refers to himself, is a pedophile and generally creepy pervert who did six months in Chino for exposing himself to an eight-year old. Turturro originally thought that he was going to have a bigger role in the film but when he read the script, he realized that it was much smaller. However, the Coen brothers let him come up with a lot of his own ideas for the character, like shining the bowling ball and the scene where he dances backwards, which he says was inspired by Muhammad Ali.

The character of Jesus Quintana was inspired, in part, by a performance the Coens had seen John Turturro give in 1988 at the Public Theater in a play called Mi Puta Vida in which he played a pederast-type character, "so we thought, let's make Turturro a pederast. It'll be something he can really run with", Joel said in an interview.
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