Jason Reitman Tackles ‘The Big Lebowski,’ Plans Another Round of Live Readings

At a live read of the Coen Brothers’ classic “The Big Lebowski,” director Jason Reitman says he’s returning in the fall for more LACMA readings

Jason Reitman's live readings of classic film scripts, which have become one of the hottest tickets in the Film Independent at LACMA program, will be back at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in the fall after Reitman takes a few months off to shoot a movie.

Reitman and Film Independent at LACMA Film Curator Elvis Mitchell announced the return of the popular series on Thursday night, when the director ended his string of six monthly events with a live read of "The Big Lebowski" featuring Seth Rogen in the role originated by Jeff Bridges. 

The Big Lebowski poster"I've got this fucking day job that I have to do this summer," said Reitman with a laugh. "But as soon as I shoot my next film, I'll be back here."

Mitchell set the date of the return as October 25, after the conclusion of filming on Reitman's "Labor Day," a drama starring Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin and based on the Joyce Maynard novel. Reitman will shoot the film in Massachusetts this summer.

Also read: Paramount Gives Josh Brolin, Kate Winslet and Jason Reitman Some 'Labor'

Since they began last October with a live read of "The Breakfast Club," Reitman's monthly readings have been instant sellouts and have attracted casts that include Steve Carrell, Natalie Portman, Diane Lane, Olivia Wilde, Bradley Cooper and Paul Rudd.

Besides "The Breakfast Club," Reitman has directed readings of "The Apartment," "Shampoo" (with Kate Hudson in the role originally played by her mother, Goldie Hawn), "The Princess Bride" and "Reservoir Dogs." The last of those assembled an all-black cast (except for Patton Oswalt) that included Terrence Howard, Laurence Fishburne and Anthony Mackie.

Jason Reitman and 'Big Lebowski' castThe events all sold out before the casts or even the screenplays themselves were announced. Reitman typically revealed the names via his Twitter account in the days leading up to each reading.

The live reads are only performed once, and are not recorded.

On Thursday, a line of ticket holders wrapped all the way around LACMA's Bing Theater long before the program began, while a standby line of hopefuls stretched off the LACMA grounds and down Wilshire Blvd.

For the first time, speakers were set up outside the theater so fans who couldn't get in could hear the reading.

At the riotously received live read, Rogen played Bridges' iconic character, the Dude. Other cast members included Rainn Wilson in the John Goodman role, Christina Hendricks in the part originated by Julianne Moore and Jason Alexander as the other  Jeff Lebowski.

Hank Azaria, Fred Savage, Nick Kroll and Reitman's sister Catherine Reitman played multiple parts, while the role of the Stranger, who also narrated the film, went to the man who originated it in the Coen Brothers film, Sam Elliott.

(Photo above, left to right: Catherine Reitman, Kroll, Savage, Elliott, Rogen, Hendricks, Wilson, Azaria, Alexander and Jason Reitman.)

Elliott's first line, delivered in his inimitable deep voice, drew such a large round of applause from the packed house that the 67-year-old actor cautioned the crowd to show some restraint, "or we'll be here all night."

Most of the audience, which included actor Gerard Butler, looked as if it would have been happy to hang around that long – and so did many of the performers, who applauded particularly zesty line readings from Alexander, Savage, Kroll, Wilson and others.

Reitman himself read the screenplay's stage directions, while a screen behind the actors displayed stills depicting the setting of each scene.

Big Lebowski readingLike the previous readings, this one was essentially unrehearsed: Reitman said he simply meets with his casts for a few minutes before the readings and tells them to relax, have fun and not feel as if they need to imitate the original films.

At the end of the reading, while the audience gave Reitman and his cast a standing ovation, Elvis Mitchell referred to the director as the LACMA film series' "first artist-in-residence."

And while he won't be in residence for the next seven months, Reitman will be back. He just needs to take some time off to make money first.

(Photos of Jason Reitman and cast by Alexandra Wyman/Wireimage. Courtesy of Film Independent.)