‘Dude!’ Why Fans Are Losing It Over New Photos of HGTV’s Ben Napier

Erin and Ben Napier

HGTV/CBS/YouTube Erin and Ben Napier of HGTV's "Home Town"

Fans of HGTV star Ben Napier are in stitches over the wardrobe choice for his acting debut, wondering if he knows he’s emulating a cult classic. As news broke that he and wife Erin, co-hosts of the hit show “Home Town,” will appear in a new Christmas movie, fans noticed a peculiar and hilarious detail in photos from the film shoot.

Here’s what’s behind all the fans who are now calling Ben “dude” on social media…

Napier’s Sweater is Very Familiar to Film Fans

On August 17, 2022, news broke that the Napiers had just wrapped filming their first movie, one of four new holiday films featuring HGTV and Food Network stars, scheduled to premiere on Discovery+ in November. Hillary Farr of “Love It or List It” will be featured in a movie called “Designing Christmas,” while the Napiers will appear in “A Christmas Open House.”

When the Napiers shared photos from the film shoot on Instagram, eagle-eyed fans noticed an amusing detail about Ben’s wardrobe. Inexplicably, the much-beloved host was wearing an exact replica of the cardigan sweater famously worn by Jeff Bridges’ character known as “The Dude” in the iconic film “The Big Lebowski.”

In the Coen Brothers’ cult classic, released in 1998, Bridges plays unemployed Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski — an unlikely hero who loves drinking White Russians and hanging out at the bowling alley while remaining totally laid back through life’s troubles, from his car being stolen to getting caught up in a kidnapping plot. The character quickly became a pop culture symbol for slackers everywhere, inspiring multiple books and even a religion called Dudeism, which claims to have 600,000 “trained priests” yet is amusingly referred to as “the slowest-growing religion in the world.”

Throughout the movie, “The Dude” wears a haphazard collection of mismatched outfits. The Financial Times marveled over how the wardrobe team dressed Bridges in “the ugliest parody of California style they could manage” yet somehow still made the character look “resplendent, glorious and perfect.”

The most-seen and best-remembered wardrobe item was a beaten-up Pendleton Westerley cardigan that was actually from Bridges’ own closet. Years after the film’s release, Pendleton went through several redesigns in an attempt to create an exact replica of the sweater for eager fans. The company finally got it right, fans told them, and the sweater is still sold on their website today for $249.

As soon as fans of “The Big Lebowski” noticed Napier wearing the famous sweater in photos, they began popping up in the Napiers’ Instagram comments to celebrate, thrilled about the throwback, with many writing a popular phrase from the movie: “The Dude abides!”

One fan wrote, “Is @scotsman.co wearing a Big Lebowski sweater???” and Napier liked the comment, signaling that he’s aware of the connection to the cult classic.

Another fan commented, “If you don’t get to be (Santa), then wearing ‘The Dude’ sweater is next best thing!”

The Napiers Will Not Play Themselves in Christmas Movie

In an August 17 Instagram post, Napier — who is known by fans as a huge fan of Christmas — shared multiple photos from the film shoot. He wrote, “Check out the stars of the movie I got to be in! @thekatiestevens@erinapier, and @victorrasuk along with the crew all did such an impressive job, I’m happy they put up with me. It was fun pretending to be an actor for a week. If you love Christmas movies, then you’ll love this movie! If you don’t love Christmas movies then we can’t be friends.”

When “A Christmas Open House” debuts on Discovery+ on December 11, it will mark the Napiers’ first time acting together, playing the roles of Henry and Sarah Wright, who happen to also be home restoration experts.

Per Variety, here’s the official description for the film:

“Melissa Norwood (Katie Stevens) is an ambitious Atlanta property stager who teams with her old high school crush, David Phelps (Victor Rasuk), to sell her newly married mom’s home in their small Georgia home town. The place is cozy but hasn’t been updated in decades, so the two join up to renovate the place before a couple of wealthy potential buyers are due to see the house on Christmas Eve. Melissa would love to spend a portion of her budget on a few custom projects created by a unique couple, Henry and Sarah Wright (Ben and Erin Napier), who are gifted at small town home restoration and appreciate the legacy of a family home. Henry is a master woodworker and custom furniture builder, and Sarah is an artist with an expertise in color and transformative design choices. As Christmas approaches and the tensions grow, so does a romantic relationship between Melissa and David, but the fact that Melissa intends to return to Atlanta and start her own business with the cash she will get from the property sale, while David has no intention of leaving his home town, could be a deal breaker for their new relationship.”