Coen Brothers may never work together again, claims long-time composer

Coen Brothers, Frances McDormand, Denzel Washington, Score podcast

The Coen Brothers may never work together again after one of the Oscar-winning duo decided he “didn’t want to make movies anymore”, their long-time composer has claimed.

Eyebrows were raised last year after it was confirmed that Joel Coen would be single-handedly directing the forthcoming The Tragedy of Macbeth, which stars Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand.

The film marks the first time Joel and his brother Ethan have not worked on a movie together. Up until 2004’s The Ladykillers, Joel was solely credited as director on the pair’s films – which include The Big Lebowski, Fargo and O Brother, Where Art Thou? – but the pair always shared directorial responsibilities and co-wrote their scripts.

According to their long-time composer Carter Burwell, the split is amicable.

“Ethan has written and produced on his own I know, but [Macbeth] is the first time Joel is directing on his own,” Burwell told the Score podcast. “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.

Burwell continued: “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.”

Coen Brothers, Frances McDormand, Denzel Washington, Score podcast

Tim Blake Nelson and George Clooney in ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’ and Joel and Ethan Coen in 2018

(Universal/Anthony Harvey/Getty)

In 2020, Burwell recalled Ethan telling him that it “felt strange” to not be collaborating with his brother on a new film, but that he “didn’t want to do [Macbeth] and wants to do other things”.

The pair’s other films include No Country for Old Men, Inside Llewyn Davis and Raising Arizona. Their most recent – and potentially final – collaboration was the 2018 Netflix movie The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.

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