25 Best Coen Brother Characters

From Barton Fink to the Dude, counting down Joel and Ethan's craziest, most unforgettable creations

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4. Walter Sobchak ('The Big Lebowski')

"Over the line!" John Goodman traded his teddy-bear persona for this aggro cargo shorts-wearing lunatic bowler — the kind of gung-ho fanatic willing to draw a pistol on anyone who doesn't play by the rules. Moreover, he can get you a toe by 3 o'clock. But Walter's fly-in-the-ointment Tasmanian devil gets a key twist — it involves his religious affiliation — as befitting the cinematic tricksters behind the camera. (The character is roughly based on Joel and Ethan's screenwriter pal, Hollywood legend/Conan the Barbarian director John Milius.) He's a good friend to the Dude, and though his bull-in-a-chinaman's-shop presence is just a set-up for catastrophe, he's one of the few reliable presence's in Lebwoski's life. Jeff Bridges delivers a summation of Sobchak that, after the laughs die down, lingers as a profound commentary on human relationships. "No, you're not wrong, Walter. You're just an asshole." JH

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