Joel and Ethan Coen have not made a movie together since 2018’s “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” and the longtime collaborators seem to be taking their film careers in increasingly different directions.
Joel flew solo behind the camera for last year’s acclaimed Shakespeare drama “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” while Ethan Coen directed the new documentary “Jerry Lee Lewis: Trouble in Mind” and is gearing up to shoot a currently untitled lesbian road trip comedy that he wrote with his wife Tricia Cooke.
The two brothers have not announced any future projects, leading many to speculate about the details of their separation. But speaking to the Associated Press at the Cannes Film Festival, Ethan said the split was fueled by boredom and exhaustion more than animosity.
“Nothing happened, certainly nothing dramatic,” Coen said. “You start out when you’re a kid and you want to make a movie. Everything’s enthusiasm and gung-ho, let’s go make a movie. And the first movie is just loads of fun. And then the second movie is loads of fun, almost as much fun as the first. And after 30 years, not that it’s no fun, but it’s more of a job than it had been.”
Coen explained that the complicated shoots for their last two films, period pieces “Hail, Caesar!” and “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” exacerbated his exhaustion with filmmaking.
“It’s an inevitable by-product of aging,” he said. “And the last two movies we made, me and Joel together, were really difficult in terms of production. I mean, really difficult. So if you don’t have to do it, you go at a certain point: Why am I doing this?”
That said, while there are currently no plans to make another movie together, Ethan refused to close the door on working with his brother.
“Going our own separate ways sounds like it suggests it might be final,” he said. “But none of this stuff happened definitively. None of the decisions are definitive. We might make another movie. I don’t know what my next movie is going to be after this. The pandemic happened. I turned into a big baby and got bored and quit, and then the pandemic happened. Then other stuff happens and who knows?”