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‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs’: Get to Know the Coen Brothers’ Newest Batch of Misanthropic Adventurers

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With their new Netflix Western anthology "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs," the Coen Brothers bring us six tall tales from the American Frontier and populate them with one unforgettable character after another.

THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS

“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”

Courtesy of Netflix

Over the course of their three-and-a-half decade career, filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen have created some of cinema’s most iconic and indelible characters, from Barton Fink to Marge Gunderson to Anton Chigurh to, of course, The Dude.

Now, with their new Netflix Western anthology “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” the Coen Brothers bring us six tall tales from the American Frontier and populate them with one unforgettable character after another. “Buster” is a rich, dark, often violent series of rollicking adventures in a genre the Coens are no stranger to, having gone west before with “True Grit” and “No Country for Old Men.”

Here’s a dossier on some of the outlaws, wanderers and vagabonds you’ll be meeting when “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” moseys onto Netflix November 16.

THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS

Tim Blake Nelson in “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”

Courtesy of Netflix

NAME: Buster Scruggs
MOST RESEMBLES: Tim Blake Nelson
CHAPTER: “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”
DESCRIPTION: Don’t let his white duds and pleasant nature fool you, wanted outlaw Buster Scruggs can sling a pistol faster than you can say “howdy-doo.” Part Bugs Bunny, part Jesse James, all singing cowboy, Scruggs and his faithful horse Dan are always on the lookout for a game of cards, but tend to get dealt a good deal of trouble instead.
SPECIAL SKILLS: Shoots like the devil; sings like an angel.
KNOWN TO SAY: “Things escalate pretty quickly out in the West, with one thing leading to another.”

THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS

James Franco in “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”

Courtesy of Netflix

NAME: Cowboy
MOST RESEMBLES: James Franco
CHAPTER: “Near Algodones”
DESCRIPTION: This no-good (and not very good) bank robber meets his match in a near-sighted, motor-mouthed bank teller who puts the “wear” in cookware.
SPECIAL SKILLS: Being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
KNOWN TO SAY: “Sentence? What sentence?”

THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS

Liam Neeson in “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”

Courtesy of Netflix

NAME: Impresario
MOST RESEMBLES: Liam Neeson
CHAPTER: “Meal Ticket”
DESCRIPTION: This tight-lipped, pipe-smoking, hard-drinking impresario rattles his wagon from town to town with his latest moneymaking spectacle in tow: an armless, legless young man with a keen knack for oration. And while our impresario may seem sweet and kind as he passes his hat after the show, he knows what his audiences like, and like all good showman will do anything to keep their rears in the seats. Anything.
SPECIAL SKILLS: Has a keen eye for talent.
KNOWN TO SAY: Not very much.

THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS

Tom Waits in “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”

Courtesy of Netflix

NAME: Prospector
MOST RESEMBLES: Tom Waits
CHAPTER: “All Gold Canyon”
DESCRIPTION: A grizzly old prospector with nothing but a pick axe, tin pan and old mule named Lucky to guide him as he digs for his pocket of gold in a lush and untouched canyon. His gravelly voice echoes as he sings and talks to the hills, alone but for the owls, the deer, and his buried treasure…
SPECIAL SKILLS: Diggin’ for gold, climbin’ trees, diggin’ for more gold.
KNOWN TO SAY: “Okay, Mr. Pocket. I’ma coming!”

THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS

Zoe Kazan in “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”

Courtesy of Netflix

NAME: Alice Longabaugh
MOST RESEMBLES: Zoe Kazan
CHAPTER: “The Girl Who Got Rattled”
DESCRIPTION: A young woman traveling with her brother (and his ever-yapping dog) along the Oregon Trail where she intends to meet and marry her brother’s associate. But things can turn bad quick on the trail, and Alice must make some sudden decisions and overcome her uncertain disposition.
SPECIAL SKILLS: Kind-hearted, trusting, and pragmatic to a fault.
KNOWN TO SAY: “Now I suppose it is my turn to think.”

THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS

Brendan Gleeson in “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”

Courtesy of Netflix

NAME: Clarence
MOST RESEMBLES: Brendan Gleeson
CHAPTER: “The Mortal Remains”
DESCRIPTION: One half of a dapper pair of bounty hunters, the bowler-hatted brawn to his partner’s silver-tongued brains. Ever the Irishman, Clarence can sooth even the most tormented of souls with a sweet Irish folksong.
SPECIAL SKILLS: Good listener; helluva thumper.
KNOWN TO SAY: “I can thump!”

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