One of the most intriguing indies without a release date or a scheduled festival appearance this fall is John Turturro’s “Going Places.” The film had been originally billed as a sequel to the Coen Brothers’ 1998 cult classic “The Big Lebowski,” but it’s more of a character-centric spinoff or “continuation” of the Jesus character Turturro made so iconic 19 years ago.
Turturro recently joined The Hollywood Reporter on its Awards Chatter podcast for a conversation about his Emmy-nominated turn in “The Night Of,” but the discussion couldn’t help but involve one of his most unforgettable supporting turns. It turns out the actor could have never predicted that Jesus, the Puerto Rican bowling enthusiast, would be such a huge success and a character he would revisit nearly two decades later.
“When I got the script, I was kind of disappointed,” he said about the role. “I was like, ‘There’s nothing here!’ So then I thought, ‘I better make something up because they’re all talking about him!'”
The Coen Brothers allowed Turturro to make the character completely his own, and a lot of Jesus’ trademark behavior ended up being the actor’s own ideas as a result. The backwards dancing and the many sexualized encounters with bowling balls were all the actor’s inclinations for the character. He was even allowed to come up with Jesus’ purple-clad bowling outfit.
“The first time they showed [my scenes] to me, I was really embarrassed,” he said. “I didn’t even get the movie when it came out. When I saw it, I thought [Jeff Bridges] was great, but it went over my head.”
Despite Turturro’s skepticism, Jesus ended up being the breakout character of “The Big Lebowski,” so much so that the actor decided to revisit the role in “Going Places” as an actor, writer, and director. He describes the film as a “continuation of the character exploration.”
“It’s not a spinoff of ‘The Big Lebowski,'” said Turturro. “It’s much more sexual. You find out that he was framed [as a pedophile].”
As has been previously reported, “Going Places” will put the character of Jesus front and center in a remake of Bertrand Blier’s 1974 French movie of the same name. Turturro stars opposite Audrey Tautou and Bobby Cannavale in a story about three sexually-deprived misfits.
Speaking with IndieWire earlier this summer, Turturro told fans to expect a much more “irreverent” follow-up for the character. “Blier’s is like a sex comedy about how stupid men are, basically,” he said. “His movie was more edgy; this is a different time. Audrey Tautou is more empowered. But it has the same spirit.”
The Hollywood Reporter claims “Going Places” is still set to be unveiled later this year, so perhaps a festival appearance is in store for the movie before a late fall release. Whenever the film does hit theaters, it’s safe to assume it won’t be “The Big Lebowski” sequel many are expecting.