Take a moment to let it sink in. Okay. Joel and Ethan Coen have been making cinema masterpieces since 1984’s Blood Simple hit the screens. They’ve delighted audiences for nearly 4 decades with gems including Raising Arizona, Barton Fink, The Hudsucker Proxy, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, No Country for Old Men, Burn After Reading, A Serious Man, True Grit, Inside Llewyn Davis, the list goes on. However, Ethan Coen has decided to get off the ride and has embarked on a new adventure in theater. Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth will be the first solo project for the writer/director.
Long time collaborator, composer Carter Burwell, scoring a whopping 15 films with the brothers had this to say of the split. “Ethan has written and produced on his own I know, but (Macbeth) is the first time Joel is directing on his own,” Burwell said on 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.”
He 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. 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.”
As a child, Ethan Coen was taken to the theater by his parents, and said that he was mostly bored by the experience. But as time went by he saw an appeal to the realness of theater that you don’t experience on a film set. “I feel totally comfortable with movies. My brother and I have been making movies since we were kids,” he said of Joel coen. “But working on movies is such a piecemeal, technical thing. This is the exact opposite of that; this is a fluid, fragile thing where everything affects the next thing. What’s terrifying about that is it can all go to hell in an instant. You make a wrong decision in rehearsals, and it’s just not like making a movie, where you can always retrieve errors and slap stuff together and make sense of it in a different way. This, my God, it’s really different.”
“Look, this is not, you know, some version of reality. It’s a desk and two chairs,” he said, pointing to the props left onstage after the afternoon preview’s final scene, set in an executive suite in Hollywood. “I mean, look at it. It’s a different exercise making a story out of that than out of everything you have to work with on a movie, where there’s so much that can pass as reality. That’s not a challenge for me.”
He then pointed to the stage. “That’s interesting,” he said with a smile. “Yeah, I’m interested in that. People think it’s about, like, self-expression or something, and it’s not about that. You do it because it’s involving and stimulating and you like the process of doing it. And damn, there’s something fantastic about it when it works.”
Ethan Coen has jumped into the stage world, and he shows no sign of stopping, already working on his next play. Joel will be making his debut writing and directing his version of The Tragedy of Macbeth, starring Denzel Washington as Lord Macbeth and Frances McDormand as Lacey Macbeth, that tells a familiar story of a Scottish lord who becomes convinced by a trio of witches that he will become the next King of Scotland, with his ambitious wife supporting him in his plans of seizing power. The film is shot completely in black-and-white. The film will have its world premiere as the opening night film of the 59th New York Film Festival September 24, 2021. This news comes from NME.