Q: I heard a story that the character of Walter in "The Big Lebowski" was based on Hollywood director John Milius. Is that true? Is Milius really as weird as that character?

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Adam Thomlison / TV Media

Depending who you ask, the director and screenwriter John Milius was even weirder than the mercurial, militant bowler Walter Sobchak he inspired in "The Big Lebowski" (1998).

In the book "The Big Lebowski: The Making of a Coen Brothers Film," writer-producer Ethan remembered being fascinated by Milius when he and brother Joel met him while working on another film.

"He's a really funny guy, a really good storyteller," Coen said. "He was never actually in the military, although he wears a lot of military paraphernalia. He's a gun enthusiast and survivalist type. Whenever we saw him, he'd invite us out to his house to look at his guns -- although we never took him up on it."

Indeed, much has been written recently about Milius -- a documentary simply titled "Milius" debuted at the SXSW festival earlier this year, and in 2011 "Vanity Fair" journalist Rich Cohen wrote an article about him called "The Real Lebowski: The Third Act of Movie Director John Milius."

The "third act" bit is in reference to the fact that all this attention comes well after Milius's heyday. He's best remembered as the writer of the landmark war film "Apocalypse Now" (1979) and the first couple of Dirty Harry pictures, as well as writing and directing the 1982 camp-fantasy classic "Conan the Barbarian."


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