The Tragedy of Macbeth marks Joel Coen’s first film as a director without his brother Ethan, and reportedly Ethan is done with directing films.
Ethan Coen, one-half of the famous Coen Brothers directing duo is reportedly done with movies, according to a close collaborator. The Coen brothers were one of the most influential filmmakers in the modern era since they broke out in 1984 with their film, Blood Simple. The two have directed some of the most iconic films of the 1990s and 2000s including Fargo, The Big Lebowski, and their Academy Award-winning film, No Country For Old Men, just to name a few.
The upcoming film, The Tragedy of Macbeth, is set to premiere at the 2021 New York Film Festival and will mark the first time that Joel Coen has directed a film solo as Ethan Coen decided to focus more on his work as a playwright. For the first part of their career, due to Director’s Guild of America rules, Joel received sole credit on directing while Ethan was a producer, even though both men were seen as the director. However, it appears that the future may see only Joel Coen as the director once again as Ethan appears to be done with film.
According to Los Angeles Magazine, via an episode of the Score podcast, longtime musical collaborator for the Coens, Carter Burwell, spoke about how it appears Ethan is done with making movies. He said the split between the two directors was amicable, and he is currently unaware if Ethan is going to retire or what Joel Coen will do after The Tragedy of Macbeth. He does say however that the Coen Brothers do have a lot of scripts that he hopes to see the brothers make together. Read what Burwell said below:
“Ethan just didn’t want to make movies anymore. Ethan seems very happy doing what he’s doing, and I’m not sure what Joel will do after this. They also have a ton of scripts they’ve written together that are sitting on various shelves. I hope maybe they get back to those. I’ve read some of those, and they are great. We are all at an age where we just don’t know… we could all retire. It’s a wonderfully unpredictable business…Yeah, it’s a little different to have one of the brothers there. And I know Ethan, I saw him toward the end of last year and Joel was out prepping the shoot in LA, he said it felt strange that Joel is out there getting ready to make a movie. But Ethan didn’t want to do it. He wants to do other things.”
If Ethan is done with directing, that means the last film the Coen Brothers directed together is 2018’s The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, which scored three Academy Award nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Costume Design, and Best Original Song. The fact that the two brothers still have plenty of scripts to turn into movies is something for many to look forward to, as they have written a number of films they did not direct like Steven Speilberg’s Bridge of Spies, Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, and Sam Raimi’s Crimewave. Many would jump at the chance to work on a Coen Brothers script, as Bill Murray famously took the part in Garfield because he misread the name on the script and mistook writer Joel Cohen with Joel Coen of the Coen Brothers fame.
The news that Ethan may be done with directing comes at the same time that Quentin Tarantino is discussing his retirement after his next film. This would mark an end for a certain chapter in film history, as a generation of directors who redefined Hollywood in the 1990s begins to step away. Two of the Coen Brothers’ earliest collaborators, Barry Sonnenfeld and Sam Raimi, have also taken some time away from the film industry. Sonnenfeld hasn’t directed a film since 2016’s Nine Lives, while Sam Raimi is lined up to direct Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, his previous directorial film was Oz: the Great and Powerful in 2013. The industry has changed so much from when the Coens first broke out into it, one that appears to be harder for even Academy Award-winning directors to get the financing and distribution for a theatrical release. If this is the end of the Coen Brothers collaboration, they have left one impressive career that many would be happy to have.
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