Imagine, if you will, that the Dude’s bungalow living room represents the city of Los Angeles and his stolen rug—the one that ties the room together—is the web of locations that binds the world of The Big Lebowski.
The Coen Brothers’s intricately layered neo-noir comedy, released on March 6, 1998, is right up there with what are generally considered to be the two greatest Los Angeles films: Chinatown and L.A. Confidential. All three pictures cast a wide net over Los Angeles locations, and, like the detective novels and screenplays of Raymond Chandler did so well, take us from sprawling mansions to the city’s seedy underbelly. The Dude (Jeff Bridges) is the pacifist stoner version of Philip Marlowe, traversing the city with freshly mixed White Russians instead of whiskey.
Books about The Big Lebowski have dedicated chapters to the film’s L.A. locations. The Blu-ray disc features an interactive map with location footage. Die-hard fans of the cult movie often make pilgrimages to its generally inaccessible spots like the Big Lebowski’s mansion or Jackie Treehorn’s house. This is especially true during Lebowski Fest (May 25 & 26), the traveling fan event—now in its 17th year—dedicated to all things Lebowski.
You may think that the filming locations of The Big Lebowski are no huge secret, but to that we say, “Yeah, well, ya know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.” From downtown to Venice and from Hollywood to Long Beach, we’ve ventured back to many of the film’s locations to see how they look 20 years later.
Let’s go bowling.
Jackie Treehorn’s House
Of all the locations featured in The Big Lebowski, there’s perhaps none more spectacular than the home of suave adult film producer, Jackie Treehorn (Ben Gazzara).
After the Dude is summoned to meet with Treehorn at a bonfire-lit beach party shot at Point Dume in Malibu, the motley pair retreats to Treehorn’s ultra-modern hillside home.
Supposedly in Malibu, the Treehorn house actually stands overlooking the entire city of Los Angeles in Beverly Crest, about 30 miles away from Point Dume. The Sheats-Goldstein Residence is a poured concrete, space-age architectural marvel designed by Frank Lloyd Wright disciple John Lautner. The house was built in 1963 for Helen and Paul Sheats, subsequently falling into disrepair under its next owners. In 1972, fashion designer, real-estate investor, and businessman, James Goldstein, purchased the Sheats house and it was restored under Lautner’s supervision. Goldstein later purchased the adjacent Concannon Residence, also a Lautner house and, with the architect’s blessing, tore it down in 2002 to build an infinity tennis court that looks out over the city. Underneath the tennis court, which is built into the hillside, is a fully functioning nightclub, appropriately called Club James.
During Lebowski Fest, the home has been known to open its doors to multiple cosplay Dudes and allow them to plant themselves on the padded concrete couches where Jeff Bridges sat.
10104 Angelo View Dr., Beverly Crest
The Dude’s Bungalow
Where else would the Dude reside but in Venice?
The interiors of the Dude’s residence were shot on a soundstage, but the exterior was a small six-unit bungalow court just east of Abbot Kinney’s main drag. The complex, built in 1928, has a perfect built-in marketing strategy: it’s described as “the Big Lebowski compound” on realty websites and anytime one of the units is available for rent, it’s touted as the Dude’s abode. The complex last changed ownership in 2012 after sitting on the market for a year.
Not only were scenes shot inside the complex, but also on the street where the Dude, while holding a White Russian, is thrown into the back of the Big Lebowski’s (David Huddleston) limo. He also confronts Da Fino (Jon Polito), the private detective following him in a blue Volkswagen Beetle.
Venezia Ave., Venice
North Hollywood Auto Circus
Shortly after the Dude’s car is stolen from the parking lot of Hollywood Star Lanes, police find it abandoned in Van Nuys according to a message left on the Dude’s answering machine. The message also informs him that he can pick up the car at the North Hollywood Auto Circus on Victory Boulevard. The actual impound lot used in the film, however, was at the Long Beach Parking Enforcement and auto lien sales lot just off the 405 Freeway. Luckily, the Dude’s tape deck and Creedence tapes were still in the recovered vehicle.
3111 E. Willow St., Long Beach
The “I hate the fuckin’ Eagles, man” Taxi Drop
After the Dude’s rough night of getting drugged by Jackie Treehorn and nailed in the head with a coffee mug by a militant Malibu police chief, the Dude’s evening is further ruined by one of rock’s most beloved bands.
As he sits in the back seat of a taxi, the Dude cringes as the Eagles’ 1972 single “Peaceful Easy Feeling” plays on the radio. More of a Creedence Clearwater Revival fan, the Dude asks the driver to change the channel because of his extreme disdain for the Glenn Frey/Don Henley outfit. As a result, the cab driver throws the Dude out of the car.
The scene was shot in front of Culver City Park at the intersection of Jefferson Boulevard and Duquesne Avenue.
Jefferson Blvd. and Duquesne Ave., Culver City
Little Larry’s House
One of the best known anecdotes about The Big Lebowski is how the character of brash Vietnam vet, Walter Sobchak (John Goodman), was partly based on John Milius, writer-director of Conan the Barbarian. In the book The Big Lebowski: An Illustrated, Annotated History of the Greatest Cult Film of All Time by Jenny M. Jones, the author delves into some of the other real-life inspirations that were incorporated into the plot.
One of those stories involved a stolen car. Upon recovering the vehicle from an impound lot, a piece of graded homework was found crumbled up with some fast food wrappers. The student was tracked down and the car owner, an acquaintance of the Coens, along with an associate, showed up unannounced at the kid’s house.
The scene was adapted into the “Little Larry” sequence that sees the Dude and Walter arrive at the North Hollywood home of an unsuspecting student whom they believe stole the Dude’s car, which contained a briefcase of ransom money from the Big Lebowski. Outside the home sits a brand new red Ferrari that they assume was purchased with the money from the briefcase.
Again, a North Hollywood setting was cheated in another area of town, in this case near Fairfax Avenue.
Stearns Dr., Fairfax
Johnie’s Coffee Shop
The classic Googie diner, designed and built in 1956 by architects Armet and Davis, opened as Romeo’s Times Square, was later renamed Ram’s, and finally became Johnie’s Coffee Shop in 1966. The popular joint shut down operations in 2000 and has since been used primarily as a filming location, except for a brief stint in 2016 when it transformed into the headquarters of a Bernie Sanders grassroots group. In fact, vibrant, graphic Bernie posters still adorn the walls and windows.
While sitting at the counter, the Dude and Walter debate the contents of a package sent to the Big Lebowski: a little toe painted with green nail polish, supposedly belonging to Lebowski’s young, kidnapped wife, Bunny (Tara Reid).
6101 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Grove
Strength. Security. Peace of Mind. Sobchak security provides it all according to the sign hanging above Walter’s place of business. The Dude picks up Walter outside his store in a tiny strip mall on Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood before heading to the ransom drop for Bunny’s return. Today, art gallery Redling Fine Art inhabits the space of Walter’s security shop.
The bag drop with the ransom money was filmed on Torrey Road in Piru, about 40 miles away from Sobchak Security.
6757 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood
The Car Crash
Doo doo doo lookin’ out my back door.
While driving and having a good ol’ time listening to some Creedence, smoking a J, and drinking a (fictional) Meichtry Draft beer, the Dude is distracted by a mysterious blue Volkswagen Beetle in his rear view mirror. After rounding a corner, he attempts to flick the joint out his driver-side window, except that it’s closed and the joint bounces back into his crotch. He quickly pours beer between his legs to avoid being burned. Losing control of the car, the Dude crashes into a green dumpster set out on the curb of a narrow street between Vine and Cahuenga. Here he discovers, shoved into his seat cushions, Larry Sellers’s homework about the Louisiana Purchase.
La Mirada Ave., Hollywood
The Bowling Alley
The only spot from The Big Lebowski that is no longer standing is it’s most central location, but not necessarily in terms of plot—in terms of character.
Hollywood Star Lanes, the Dude, Walter, and Donny’s (Steve Buscemi) bowling alley of choice, closed in August of 2002 after operating for 42 years and was demolished in 2003. The closure of the popular bowling alley was somewhat controversial at the time. The owner apparently agreed to sell the property to LAUSD for the site of a new school—an assertion the owner denied—and later backed out of the agreement. The bowling alley was ordered closed after a judge ruled in favor of LAUSD.
According to Jones’s book on the history of Lebowski, some of the neon starburst fixtures were saved and now adorn the walls of the downtown L.A. Lucky Strike, which also purchased the #7 lane from the Lebowski bowling alley and used pieces of it to make the bar at their Hollywood location.
Today, Kingsley Elementary School stands on the old spot of Hollywood Star Lanes.
5227 Santa Monica Blvd., East Hollywood
Jesus Quintana’s Walk of Shame
In the film’s only flashback, we see avid bowler and convicted sex offender, Jesus Quintana (John Turturro), walking down a Hollywood street as he goes door to door informing residents of his presence in the neighborhood. Upon ringing the doorbell of one particular house, a burly, beer-swilling repairman wearing a shirt that’s halfway unbuttoned answers the door in no mood to be bothered by anyone, much less a registered sex offender.
N. Kenmore Ave., East Hollywood
Scattering Donny’s Ashes
After Donny, the most innocent character in the entire film, suffers a heart attack in the bowling alley parking lot after a confrontation with the self-proclaimed nihilists, the Dude and Walter transport Donny’s ashes to the Pacific Ocean in a Folgers coffee can in a failed attempt at scattering them.
The scene was shot along the cliffs of San Pedro’s infamous, graffiti-adorned Sunken City, which was given its moniker because of the 1929 landslide that sent several homes into the ocean.
Though technically off limits to the public, on a daily basis scores of urban explorers, families, and graffiti artists often bypass the numerous “no trespassing” signs and can be seen walking around on the prohibited side of the fence. As recently as 2015, proposals to open the property to the public have been brought up with the City Council, but have since floundered.
Point Fermin Park, W. El Paso Del Mar, San Pedro
The Big Lebowski’s Mansion
The magnificent Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills has been the setting for 70-plus films dating back to the 1940s. From Dead Ringer (1964) with Bette Davis to There Will Be Blood (2007) with Daniel Day-Lewis, filmmakers have been drawn to the opulence and mystery of Ned Doheny’s mansion, inside of which Doheny and his personal assistant were found dead in an apparent murder-suicide in 1929.
The property was purchased in 1965 by the City of Beverly Hills, and in 1971 the Greystone estate was declared a public park. From 1969 until 1982 the property was leased by the American Film Institute, leading David Lynch to shoot his feature debut, Eraserhead (1977), in the Greystone stables.
Though, no matter how many films have shot at Greystone over the years, only one counts to die-hard Lebowski fans.
The interior of the Greystone Mansion was used as the home of the film’s titular character, wealthy businessman Jeffrey Lebowski, aka the Big Lebowski. The filmmakers utilized Greystone’s wood-paneled living room, grand staircase, and transformed its breakfast room into Lebowski’s office. The exterior of Lebowski’s house, however, was a contemporary European style home in Holmby Hills that was once owned by former Dodger bosses, the McCourts.
905 Loma Vista Dr., Beverly Hills
Maude Lebowski’s Loft
The loft of contemporary artist and daughter of the Big Lebowski, Maude Lebowski (Julianne Moore), is fairly easy to pinpoint once you take into account the vertical signage of Los Angeles Theatre seen across the street through the location’s arched windows. The filmmakers took over the fifth floor of the circa-1911 Palace Theatre. In order to convert the space—primarily used for filming and special events—into a fully functioning loft space, a bar and kitchen were constructed as were temporary walls that created hallway for Maude to zip line down, in the nude, as she splattered paint on her canvas.
630 S. Broadway, downtown
Please keep in mind that some of these locations are on private property. Do not trespass or disturb the owners. Follow Jared on Twitter at @JaredCowan1.