John Turturro has been talking for many years about making a spin-off about Jesus Quintana, the purple-clad, trash-talking, bowling ball-licking, amateur bowling champion who appears in two scenes of the Coen Brothers’ 1998 cult classic The Big Lebowski.
There’s never been a sequel or spin-off from a Coen film, and Turturro didn’t have any writing or directing role in the original movie, but the actor has frequently talked about wanting to make a Jesus movie until the film finally entered production in late 2016. And now we know when we’ll see it.
The Jesus Rolls, the movie that represents the continuing saga of Jesus Quintana, will arrive in theaters in early 2020, with distribution from the indie company Screen Media Films.
Per Deadline, the film is both a spin-off of Lebowski and a remake of the 1974 film Going Places, and Turturro is both writer and director. The Coens will have no involvement, although they granted Turturro permission to pursue the project based on a character they created.
The plot, per that site, ” follows a trio of misfits whose irreverent, sexually charged dynamic evolves into a surprising love story as their spontaneous and flippant attitude towards the past or future backfires time and again, even as they inadvertently perform good deeds.”
No other actors from Lebowski are listed among the cast, and the rest of the cast includes Bobby Cannavale, Audrey Tautou, Jon Hamm, Susan Sarandon, and Pete Davidson.
In a press release, Turturro describes The Jesus Rolls as “a transgressive film about the stupidity of men who try and fail and try better to understand and penetrate the mystery of women.”
There is one particular elephant in the room when it comes to this project: Didn’t The Big Lebowski establish as canon that the Jesus character is a child sex offender? “He did six months in Chino for exposing himself to an eight-year-old,” John Goodman’s Walter Sobchak famously said of Jesus in the film. We also, in that film, see Jesus going door to door to inform neighbors that he’s a “pederast.” It’s a memorable visual, even if California wouldn’t enact Megan’s Law until five years after the events of the movie, in 1991.
How will the spin-off get around that its hero is established as having committed a sex crime against a child? That’s unclear. They could establish that he was framed, that Walter was lying, or that he’s somehow been rehabilitated in the nearly 30 years since the events of the original. At any rate, an odd choice for Hollywood to make in the age of #MeToo.