Over the course of their career, the Coen brothers have racked up a ton of people both in front of and behind the camera that they bring from project to project. Even though “The Big Lebowski” was seen as a departure for the brothers, nearly everyone involved is still part of their usual company. On screen, you have John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, Peter Stormare, and, in a very small role, Jon Polito, all returning from previous projects. The only major Coen collaborator from that era you are missing is Frances McDormand. Our lead is Jeff Bridges, working with the Coens for the very first time, but he would go on to reunite with them in 2010’s “True Grit.” They love to collect idiosyncratic character actors and mix and match them in all of their projects because these films require such a specific fidelity to language and the ability to nail a tricky tone. Once they find these actors, they don’t let them go. You can always tell when another filmmaker is really trying to do what the Coens do because they will often cast one of their stock players in a movie (I’m looking at you, Michael Bay).
Behind the scenes, you have all of the usual suspects as well, including cinematographer Roger Deakins, composer Carter Burwell, editor Tricia Cooke (who is also married to Ethan Coen), costume designer Mary Zophres, storyboard artist J. Todd Anderson, and more. Production designer Rick Heinrichs didn’t go on to work with the Coens after this movie, but he did work on “Fargo” previously. They have amassed a group of talented craftspeople who know exactly how they like to work and how to get their vision onto celluloid. Though the actors are the flashier stock company, that company is just as strong behind the camera.