Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 
Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable

The Coens Speak (Reluctantly)

By Indiewire | Indiewire March 9, 1998 at 2:00AM

The Coens Speak (Reluctantly)
0

The Coens Speak (Reluctantly)

by Doug Stone



Jeff Bridges and John Goodman star in the Coen brothers' latest,
"The Big Lebowski." Photo Credit: Grammercy Pictures


The rascally Coen brothers have never been the best interview subjects, possibly because
they rankle at the constant questions about their relationship with each other. (When asked
by Elle magazine, "Do you guys ever fight?" Joel Coen replied, "That's not an interesting
question.") So it can be a somewhat painful experience to see the brilliant siblings in a
hotel hospitality suite being bombarded with questions from a dozen journalists about
everything except their movies. Awkward silences, long pauses, and a
couple of audible groans were among the responses to various questions.

But when the topic of conversation narrows to specific questions about their hilarious new film
"The Big Lebowski" starring Jeff Bridges (as "The Dude", a doobie smoking burn-out who
gets mixed up in a wacky kidnapping scam), the boys open up (just a bit). The movie, which also
stars John Goodman, Julianne Moore and includes an hysterical cameo from John Turturro, returns
the Coens to the comic-genius territory of "Raising Arizona."

indieWIRE: You majored in philosophy at Princeton.
What is your philosophy of filmmaking?

Ethan Coen: Oooh-I don't have one. I wouldn't even know how to begin. You've stumped
me there. None that I've noticed. Drawing a blank on this one.

iW: How much did "The Big Sleep" influence "The Big Lebowski"?

Joel Coen: We wanted to do a Chandler kind of story - how it moves episodically, and deals with
the characters trying to unravel a mystery. As well as having a hopelessly complex plot that's ultimately
unimportant.

Ethan: And there was something attractive about having the main character not be a private eye,
but just some pothead intuitively figuring out the ins and outs of an elaborate intrigue. And then
there's Walter, whose instincts are always wrong.

iW: Why is kidnapping a favorite theme of yours?

Ethan: It just turned out that way. I don't know why kidnapping has figured into three of
our movies. Not because of any personal obsession.

iW: Did you ever run around with the kinds of Los Angeles
bowling-dope-smoking types that are depicted in the film?

Joel: To tell you the truth, we're still tourists in LA. We have lived there for short periods
of time, but we've always really lived in New York. But the character of the Dude is based on a member
of an amateur softball league, but we changed it to bowling because it was more visually compelling,
and it's the kind of sport you can do while you're drinking and smoking. And it's also very retro -
just as the characters are products with an earlier time, it seems that there's so much associated
with bowling in terms of design, and specifically in LA.

iW: Is Jeff Dowd one of those types?

Joel: Yeah, Jeff Dowd [an indie producer's rep and friend of the Coens]
is certainly one of those types that the Dude is based on...

iW: What's the attraction of setting the film specifically in 1991?

Ethan: Well, setting the film during the Gulf War was an opportunity to have Walter gas about something-

Joel: That's the main reason.

Ethan: And it's more attractive to make something time specific than just present day, because-

Joel: -because just what is present day?

iW: What will you do if you ever win an Oscar for editing? [The
Coens edit their own films under the credited pseudonym Roderick Jaynes, a fictional British film editor
who supposedly hates their work.]

Ethan: We actually had a discussion with the Academy about that. Proxies can't accept anymore
after Marlon Brando queered it for the rest of us.

iW: Did you set out on this movie to teach America what Nihilism means?

Ethan: (laughs) Nihilism strikes a terrible chord in Walter [John Goodman's character] who is
particularly horrified by it.

Joel: (bitterly sarcastic) Everything's a lesson for America.

[Doug Stone is a filmmaker, and singer in the dark polka band, "Pinataland". He is also a segment producer for the
IFC's flagship show, "Split Screen" and is currently working on a film about his brother's vacation in Vietnam.]

This article is related to: Interviews






Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome



Awards Season Spotlight

Contender Conversations

Indiewire celebrates the best and brightest from Independent film, Hollywood, and foreign cinema.

More