There’s an assumption in some circles of the Internet that the Coen Brothers are bullsh*t artists. Not like full of bull in general, but essentially toying with the press about potential sequels to two of their films. The projects in question are a “Big Lebowski” spin-off centering around the Jesus character played by John Turturro and a sequel to “Barton Fink” that they call “Old Fink.”
Here’s the thing. The ‘Lebowski’ thing is real. Or rather, it’s something that John Turturro actively wants to do. We know because he told THR in an interview not that long ago that he wanted to direct. The Coens talked about the project again recently, and it’s clear they have no interest.
“Turturro keeps urging us to do the ‘Jesus’ spin-off of his character,” Ethan Coen told Empire this week, before adding sarcastically, “Yeah, uh huh…” There are lots of odd awkward pauses afterwards, and it’s apparent it’s just not something they want to do. Joel Coen underscored that notion. “People have been asking us about a sequel to ‘The Big Lebowski,’ for years, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.”
Now there’s the assumption that the “Old Fink” is a pulling-of-the-leg gag on journalists, and we’re as cynical as the next guy about the dubious rumor. But I’m not so sure here. Listen to their tone in this interview and the fact that Joel brings up “Old Fink” as a possibility on his own unprompted. “We’ve talked about doing a sequel to ‘Barton Fink,’ which is just really to the enormous response and popular demand for one,” he said, dryly and self-deprecatingly (“Barton Fink” was not a big hit domestically). “But it would be ‘Old Fink,’ we don’t want to do it until Turturro is old enough in reality to play [the character].”
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How old would the actor need to be to play the part? “He’s almost there, it would be [that] character in the summer of love in San Francisco, teaching at Berkeley or something,” Joel explained, giving out a few plot details that haven’t been revealed before. “He’s become an old lefty, but an ideologue who’s become old, cynical, and embittered,” Ethan added.
Conspiracy theorize about it all you want, but it sounds to me that they’re being sincere (and you have to listen and not just read the quotes without audio context). Whether they ever make the film remains to be seen, but it does sound like they have at least a vague notion of what the movie would be. “It would be interesting to see what happened to that character,” Joel said. “I’m not that interested in what happens to The Dude or Walter [in ‘Lebowski’]. I think they need to stay in their particular moment, but Barton Fink for some reason…I don’t know why” he trailed off laughing (which some will take as him cracking up on the gag, I’m sure). “We’ve also determined in our minds that John Goodman comes back as a kind of… not a Yoda-like creature, what do you call it, who’s the guy who comes back in ‘Star Wars’ as a kind of conscious voice? [Obi Wan]. Yeah, right.”
By the way, who is one of the Coen Brothers favorite filmmakers? Adrian Lyne, the director behind, “Indecent Proposal,” “Unfaithful,” “9½ Weeks,” and “Fatal Attraction” to name a few. No joke. “He’s got this unbelievable craft,” Joel said. “I know a lot of those guys came out of British television and commercials and like Alan Parker, I think they have this amazing visual sense and sense of craft and it’s all very great. You have the feeling that whatever [Lyne] is after mentally, he’s actually seizing that exactly perfectly on film which is really something.” Huh, well, you learn something new every day. Listen to the full interview below and tell us what you think.
In a separate U.K. podcast interview, the Coens were asked what is next. The brothers said they are currently writing an adaptation of Ross MacDonald’s Lew Archer crime novel “Black Money,” as previously reported, but they’re still unsure whether they’ll direct it or not.
That’s your weekend Coen Brothers update. “Hail, Caesar!” is in U.K. cinemas now. Listen to the interviews below (the Empire chat begins around the 46 minute mark).