In an alternate universe, Owen Wilson could have starred in the Coen Bros. cult classic, “The Big Lebowski” — in the role ultimately played by Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Rachael Horovitz — the BAFTA-winning producer of Showtime’s Patrick Melrose — posted on Instagram a long-lost letter from her days at New Line Cinema, where she developed Wes Anderson’s “Rushmore.”
(“Rushmore” was co-written by Wilson and he was receiving his mail at Horovitz’s office as they worked on the script.)
“Dear Owen… As discussed please find THE BIG LEBOWSKI written by Joel and Ethan Coen,” reads a 1996 letter to Wilson from the star’s then-agent Brandt Joel. “Ethan Coen will produce this project for Polygram and Working Title. Jeff Bridges is set for the role of ‘The Dude,’ John Goodman is set for the role of ‘Walter,’ John Tuturro [sic] is set for the role of ‘Jesus,’ Steve Buscemi is set for the role of ‘Donny’… Please take a look at the role of ‘Brandt.’ I look forward to your thoughts.”
For those hazy on “Lebowski” lore, the “Brandt” character was the sycophantic toady who mediates matters between “The Dude” and “The Big Lebowski.”
When we reached out to Horovitz for comment — and any clues as to what happened with Wilson and the role — she told us in an email from London, “I don’t even know if he ever read the Coen Bros. script. I have no more info!”
Her credits also include “Moneyball,” “Maggie’s Plan” and HBO’s “Grey Gardens.”
A rep for the Coens did not comment.
But Hoffman told Rolling Stone in 2008 for the film’s then-10th anniversary of landing the role, “I remember having a good time, I think I went in twice. I remember the Coen brothers laughing a lot.”
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