Inquiring minds have been asking quietly for months: why is only Joel Coen credited for “The Tragedy Of Macbeth,” starring Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand, and what is going on with the Coen Brothers? Well, according to an interview with Coen Brothers composer Carter Burwell — who started his career with the siblings in 1984 with “Blood Simple,” and has worked on every one of their films except for “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” and “Inside Llewyn Davis” — it might be because they’re done. And it’s purportedly because Ethan Coen, the younger brother, has lost interest (gah!)
“Ethan just didn’t want to make movies anymore,” Burwell told Score: The Podcast via LA MAG when asked why the two brothers didn’t work on ‘Macbeth’ together. “Ethan seems to be very happy doing what he’s doing, and I’m not sure what Joel will do after [Macbeth].”
“The Tragedy Of Macbeth” is credited to Joel Coen only and is scheduled to make its world premiere at the New York Film Festival in September as the opening night film (presumably it’ll be released theatrical sometime after that during awards season).
As for what Ethan’s “happy doing,” it sounds like playwriting. LA MAG reminds us that the younger Coen did already give us all a head’s up in fall 2019 that he said he was “giving movies a rest” in order to focus on his solo playwriting.
Burwell also revealed that the brothers have “a ton of scripts they’ve written together that are sitting on various shelves,” and none of those are in further development. “I hope maybe they get back to some of those because I’ve read some, and they’re great,” he continued. “But I don’t know. We’re all at an age where we could retire, but I don’t think that’s exactly what’s going to happen. It’s a wonderfully unpredictable business.”
Say it ain’t so? Either way, there’s very little reason to doubt Burwell, he’s been a constant collaborator in their lives, and if anyone would know, he would. Watch this space for more because surely this surprise will become big enough of a story that one brother feels compelled to respond. Very likely, someone asks them about this around the press days at NYFF, so stay tuned for late September.