If two heads are better than one, the Coen Brothers are definitely proof of it. Joel and Ethan Cohen have been together more or less since they were born. Their bond and similar creative perceptions have helped keep them in creative sync throughout their careers. Both men are directors, producers, and screenwriters, they’ve made a lot of films together since they started in 1984, employing different styles and across film genres. These include Miller’s Crossing (1990); Fargo (1996); No Country for Old Men (2007); and Inside Llewyn Davis (2013).
Throughout their careers, Joel and Ethan seem to have built a close pool of actors they frequently work with, an ensemble cast of sorts. This pool includes the likes of George Clooney, Jon Polito, Steve Buscemi, and J.K. Simmons. They are only the third director duo to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director.
Who Are Joel and Ethan – The Coen Brothers?
Joel Coen was born on November 29, 1954, and Ethan Coen was born September 21, 1957, born in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. Growing up, the Coen brothers fell in love with film making and soon they were frequently remaking movies they saw on television with their neighbor and friend, Mark Zimering.
Joel and Ethan had their high school education at St. Louis Park High School, after which they both attended Bard College in Massachusetts. They would subsequently separate for the first time after Bard College. Joel enrolled at New York University where he did a four-year undergraduate film programme. Ethan, on the other hand, studied philosophy at Princeton University.
A few years and a number of odd jobs after university, Joel and Ethan teamed up to write and direct their first movie, Blood Simple, in 1984. The film was well received and even won awards at a few film festivals. Throughout the 1980s, the Coen Brothers were involved as either directors or writers in movies like Crimewave (1985); Spies Like Us (1985); and Raising Arizona (1987).
They started the 1990s with Miller’s Crossing and followed this up with titles like Barton Fink (1991); The Hudsucker Proxy (1994); Fargo (1996); and The Big Lebowski (1998).
In 2000, the Coen Brothers filmed O Brother, Where Art Thou? It was a huge success and featured stars like George Clooney, John Turturro, and Tim Blake Nelson. After a few more movies, Joel and Ethan made 2004’s The Lady Killers. They rounded up the 2000s with movies like To Each His Own Cinema (2007); No Country for Old Men (2007); Burn After Reading (2008), and A Serious Man (2009).
In 2013, the brothers worked on Inside Llewyn Davis and collaborated with names like Justin Timberlake, and Carey Mulligan. It was nominated for a Golden Globe award and clinched the Grand Prix in that year’s Cannes Film Festival. They continued with movies like Unbroken (2014); Bridge of Spies (2015); Suburbicon (2017); and Hail Ceasar (2016).
Their most recently released film involvement was The Ballad of Buster Schruggs (2018). It had a brief showing in cinemas before Netflix acquired the rights to the movie later in the year.
The Coen Brothers who own their own production company, Mike Ross Productions, were finally recognized as one entity in 2004. This meant they could be nominated and given awards as one person. Before 2003, they were recognized separately with Joel being credited for directing and Ethan for producing.
The brothers have garnered over 115 Academy, BAFTA, and Golden Globe Awards for their personal efforts and the performance of their movies. They clinched 17 of those awards.
The Coen Brothers’ Wives and Families
Joel and Ethan were raised in a family with a Jewish background and strong regard for intellectual development. Their father, Edward Coen, was employed at the University of Minnesota as an economist. Their mother, Rena Coen worked as an art historian at St. Cloud State University.
The Coen Brothers got married separately in the 1980s and 1990s respectively. Joel Coen met actress Frances McDormand before he started his career. They got married in 1984 and adopted a son from Paraguay who they named Pedro McDormand Coen. Ethan Coen on his part is married to Tricia Cooke who makes a living as a film editor. They got married in 1990 and have two children together; a daughter, Dusty, and a son named Buster Jacob.
Both couples all make a living within the same industry and both reside in New York. However, Joel’s wife, Frances McDormand, is the only one among them who does her thing in front of the camera. She has appeared in a slew of their movies playing everything from minor and support to major roles. Some of the movies McDormand has appeared in are Miller’s Crossing, Raising Arizona, Blood Simple, The Man Who Wasn’t There, Fargo, and Burn After Reading.