Jeff Bridges technically might very well have been playing against his type that he was before this film came out, but now it is considered perhaps his signature role since it also seem to become evident that his own personality is not that far from the Dude's and even took on the nickname. Well it's not surprising that the Dude frankly became his type since Bridges frankly could not be more comfortable in the role. He certainly is just the Dude and there is never a question of that fact for the moment. Bridges absolutely embodies the role with that slow sloppy way of walking that always reinforces the fact that The Dude definitely does not need to be in a rush to get anywhere. Bridges also just has that especially relaxed quality about every physical movement and his whole speech pattern even when he's not under the influence of marijuana. Bridges is the Dude and it does not take long before it feels like you know just who the Dude is.
The Dude rather oddly is kinda the private eye protagonist for a neo noir. The only reason is that he is mistaken for someone else and is strung along into an odd world mostly because he wants his carpet replaced which was ruined by thugs. Well since the plot itself is much less than it appears the Dude is perhaps the best guy to investigate into it. Of course the Dude hardly really investigates he more of is strung along since people keep showing up at his house or request his company simply due to his incidental involvement with the kidnapping plot that involves some very weird people. He also is prodded along on his own side by his crazy best friend Walter (John Goodman) who comes up with his own absurd ideas involving the plot since it includes a large sum of money. As stated in the film though The Dude is purposefully a constant therefore Bridges keeps his performance on a very similair note throughout, although importantly he never feels one note either.
Bridges is good in the role by keeping a certain realism in the part even though the Dude technically really should have nothing to do with what is going on around him. Bridges does not take his approach too far though and still portrays the Dude as a real guy. This becomes most evident when at first it appears that the kidnapping plot may be serious and that someone's life really is in danger. Bridges is effective in portraying The Dude's reaction as one of genuine fear and concern that his actions and the actions of his friends might have caused someone harm. Bridges is equally good as he gets threatened, and slightly physically accosted by the likes of some Nihilists, the thugs of a pornographer, and a cop. Bridges again does well to portray The Dude rightfully becoming slightly more exasperated and even more intense as the business involving the Big Lebowski becomes more harmful to him. Bridges never makes it that heavy so to speak, but he effectively does bring the right sort of weight to the noir elements.
The majority of his performance is of course not being serious and in fact being that easy going guy as others keep laying down more information on him. Bridges's does well to be both a straight man yet flamboyant in his own sort way as well. Bridges is funny on one end of things in portraying the Dude's confusion at the weird people he comes across as well as the annoyance when Walter's behavior gets too out of hand sometimes. At the same time Bridges is funny as well by not necessarily being the straight man, particularly in the scenes where he interacts with the Big Lebowski and his assistant. Here technically Bridges is the one more actively comical and he does well in that to by being so easygoing, and mostly uncaring, as the Big Lebowski goes on about one thing or another that technically has little to do with The Dude. Bridges has just enough fun in portraying the Dude keeping up his trademark manner even while the Big Lebowski goes off on an overly dramatic monologue.
Bridges does indeed seem born for the role as it is one of those cases where it is hard to see anyone else playing the part especially as it appeared to become one with him after this point. Bridges is quite entertaining in the role, and I do thoroughly enjoy his performance. In addition to this Bridges does as well never goes too far with the role still making the few dramatic points work as they should, as he never makes the Dude purely into caricature. I suppose though this is where it comes into play with how much you love the film as I could easily see someone loving the film loving this performance equally. Well I like the film just fine, and I like Bridges in mostly the same way, I guess I might like the performance slightly more. To be sure I don't have anything to complain about his work here it just doesn't work quite as well for me as it does for so many others, although I can see why his work here is loved by some.