Edit
Joel Coen Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (25) | Trivia (26) | Personal Quotes (14)

Overview (3)

Date of Birth 29 November 1954Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
Birth NameJoel Daniel Coen
Height 6' (1.83 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Joel Coen was born on November 29, 1954 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA as Joel Daniel Coen. He is a producer and writer, known for No Country for Old Men (2007), Fargo (1996) and The Big Lebowski (1998). He has been married to Frances McDormand since April 1, 1984. They have one child.

Spouse (1)

Frances McDormand (1 April 1984 - present) (1 child)

Trade Mark (25)

Frequently casts Steve Buscemi (6 times), spouse Frances McDormand (5 times), Jon Polito (5 times), John Goodman (5 times), John Turturro (4 times), George Clooney (3 times), Michael Badalucco (3 times), Charles Durning (twice), M. Emmet Walsh (twice), Peter Stormare (twice), Richard Jenkins (twice), John Mahoney (twice), Tony Shalhoub (twice), Stephen Root (3 times), and Billy Bob Thornton (twice).
References to the films of Stanley Kubrick
Films often center around or include a botched crime
The Coens frequently focus on round spinning objects: hat in Miller's Crossing (1990), bowling balls and tumble-weed in The Big Lebowski (1998), hair pomade tins in O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), UFO and a car wheel in The Man Who Wasn't There (2001) ...or the fans in Blood Simple. (1984).
Often creates at least one lengthy sequence in most of his films where only music plays as a major event unfolds, i.e Raising Arizona (1987) when Nicolas Cage is being chased after robbing a store. Also sequences in Miller's Crossing (1990), The Big Lebowski (1998), The Man Who Wasn't There (2001), and Fargo (1996).
Often has a certain phrase that is repeated throughout the movie or a specific scene.
Typically makes movies set during a specific time period, often in the near-past (Fargo (1996) takes place in 1987, The Big Lebowski (1998) in 1991, and No Country for Old Men (2007) in 1980).
Films usually contain at least one fast-talking character
Films often include characters or places with the stereotypes of the regions they take place in (the Mid-Western accents and snow-covered landscapes for Fargo (1996), the Southwestern accents and barren deserts of Arizona for Raising Arizona (1987), the Southern accents and dust-bowl landscape for_O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)_, Los Angeles accents and life-style in The Big Lebowski (1998), and the accents and cramped environments of Los Angeles in Barton Fink (1991)).
His movies often have a victim of a crime who is completely unsympathetic (Fargo, Lebowski, Raising Arizona)
Men often explicitly suffer bizarre and bloody deaths or indignities in their films, but women are typically harmed off-screen (Fargo, The Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Men, Barton Fink).
Opening shot with the landscape of the area in which the movie is set and a voiceover (e.g. No Country for Old Men (2007), The Big Lebowski (1998), O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)).
Use of phones ringing for long periods of time before a character answers of at all. Tom Reagan in Millers Crossing, The Dude in The Big Lebowski, Anton Chigurh in No Country For Old Men and Barton Fink.
Elaborate, self-conscious homages to past films and filmmaking styles
Highly exaggerated performances, particularly with eyes and voices
Often begins movies with a voiceover by a southern character (see: Blood Simple, The Hudsucker Proxy, The Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Men).
Films frequently contain adulterous wives or girlfriends. See: "Blood Simple", "Miller's Crossing", "Barton Fink", "The Man Who Wasn't There", "Intolerable Cruelty", "Burn After Reading", "A Serious Man".
Highly keen soundtracks (always handled by Skip Lievsay), in which mundane sounds are made to seem eerie or used for absurdist effect.
Several Coen Brothers films feature a mysterious, purely evil antagonist, who are typically laconic, physically imposing and extremely violent
Often has at least one male character with dated, unusual, or goofy hair
Many of his films feature an amoral but intelligent character who works in business or law
His protagonists are often ordinary people who find themselves caught up in extraordinary situations
Almost all of his films involve a pivotal scene that takes place in a hotel room
Several films contain scenes of graphic violence
Dry humor

Trivia (26)

He and his wife adopted a baby boy from Paraguay in 1994 and named him Pedro McDormand Coen.
Used to receive sole credit as director for the Coen brothers movies', but has always directed films with his brother Ethan Coen (they also write and produce their films together). This was changed with The Ladykillers (2004), and now they both receive credit for directing and producing.
Works so closely with his brother Ethan Coen that the two of them have been jokingly referred to as "The Two-Headed Director".
Alumnus of Simon's Rock College, Great Barrington, Massachusetts, along with brother Ethan Coen. This is a fully-accredited college for students who typically enter at the age of 16 - before graduating high school.
He and brother Ethan Coen have had final cut on all of their films since Blood Simple. (1984), their debut film.
Ranked #88 in Premiere's 2003 annual Power 100 List with brother Ethan Coen. They had been ranked #92 in 2002.
Brother-in-law of Tricia Cooke.
Frequently includes kidnapping-plots in his films.
Often has a scene that takes place in dark areas with a sense of dark humor. In The Big Lebowski (1998), The Dude talks to Jeffery Lebowski in a dark room with fire; In O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), The Devil's henchmen capture Pete with thunder in the background; In Intolerable Cruelty (2003), Miles meets with Myerson in the dark room with only a glare of light showing Myerson's face; In Fargo (1996), Shep starts beating up Carl in a dim-lighted room.
When an actor improvises a line on the set, he will almost invariably say something like, "That was great, but could you do it like it's written in the script?" Most Coen brothers films are the same (line for line) when released as they are on the page in the final draft of the script.
Resides in New York City with his family.
As his brother, he graduated from Simon's Rock Early College in Great Barrington, MA. He later attended New York University's undergraduate film program to finally graduate after four years there.
In his childhood, he saved money from mowing lawns to buy a Super-8 camera.
Born to Edward Coen, an economist at the University of Minnesota, and his wife Rena, an art historian at St. Cloud State University.
As of 2008 joined (along with his brother Ethan Coen) the prestigious group of individuals to have won Oscars for writing, directing and producing in the same year, for the film No Country for Old Men (2007)'. The others are Peter Jackson for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), James L. Brooks for Terms of Endearment (1983), Francis Ford Coppola for The Godfather: Part II (1974) and Billy Wilder for The Apartment (1960). James Cameron also won three Oscars for Titanic (1997) but they were for directing, producing and editing.
Only three times in Academy Award history have director-collaborators been nominated for Best Directing Oscars: Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins for West Side Story (1961), Warren Beatty and Buck Henry for Heaven Can Wait (1978) and Joel Coen and Ethan Coen for No Country for Old Men (2007). (Wise/Robbins and the Coens actually won the award).
Directed 6 different actors in Oscar-nominated performances: Michael Lerner, Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, Javier Bardem, Jeff Bridges, and Hailee Steinfeld. McDormand and Bardem won Oscars for their performances in one of his movies.
The first Coen brothers film where both he and brother Ethan Coen are given directing and producing credits was The Ladykillers (2004). They have shared these duties on all of their films, but Joel has always been listed as director and Ethan as producer.
As of 2009, he is the only person to have ever directed his wife to a Best Actress Oscar (Frances McDormand in Fargo (1996)).
Has a younger sister named Deborah, who is a psychiatrist.
His mother, Rena Neumann Coen, died of kidney disease in 2001.
Roderick Jaynes, who is credited with editing all of his films, does not, in fact, exist. The name is a pseudonym for Joel and his brother Ethan.
When asked what films most influenced him and his brother early on, Joel mentioned Hollywood comedies from the late 50s and early 60s usually critically considered lightweight and inferior, including Boeing, Boeing (1965), A Global Affair (1964), That Touch of Mink (1962) and Pillow Talk (1959). He also claimed that The Guns of Navarone (1961) is his favorite film.
Has won the Cannes prize for Best Director three times, more than any other filmmaker. He won in 1991 for Barton Fink, 1996 for Fargo and 2001 for The Man Who Wasn't There.
In the late 60s, Coen, along with younger brother Ethan, shot their own Super 8 version of "Advise and Consent.".
The Coen Brothers are noted for their unusual writing process of not only eschewing outlines, but of not even concerning themselves what their story is about or who their characters are before beginning to write their screenplays. They will simply begin writing any scene they think up that they find to be interesting. Then, if they think of an interesting idea for a following scene, they will write that one, and then another, and so on and so forth until they have a first draft, discovering what the story is along the way. Then, they will heavily revise what they have until they feel they have a shootable screenplay. They have noted that because of this, they will often get writer's block around the mid-point of any given screenplay, and will begin another screenplay in the meantime in order to remain productive. For example, the entirety of 'Barton Fink' was written while they were battling writer's block with 'Miller's Crossing', and the first 40 pages of 'The Big Lebowski' were written while they were stuck with 'Barton Fink'.

Personal Quotes (14)

Frequently we are writing characters and we are thinking, "Wouldn't it be interesting to see such and such play this kind of a person?", and the character starts to grow out of that as you are writing it. It's a combination of things that you are making up and what you know about the actor.
It's a funny thing; people sometimes accuse us of condescending to our characters somehow -- that to me is kind of inexplicable.
[on filmmaking] I can almost set my watch by how I'm going to feel at different stages of the process. It's always identical, whether the movie ends up working or not. I think when you watch the dailies, the film that you shoot every day, you're very excited by it and very optimistic about how it's going to work. And when you see it the first time you put the film together, the roughest cut, is when you want to go home and open up your veins and get in a warm tub and just go away. And then it gradually, maybe, works its way back, somewhere toward that spot you were at before.
I hate when people cry in movies. It's particularly disconcerting when you're sitting at a really awful movie and you hear people all around you sobbing and blowing their noses.
We've never considered our stuff either homage or spoof. Those are things other people call it, and it's always puzzled me that they do.
The bigger stars we've worked with have been without the movie-star vanities or meshugaas that you read about and dread. [George Clooney], for example, was the opposite. He has no entourage. He's a big movie star, but a nice guy.
[Ethan Coen] had a nightmare of one day finding me on the set of something like The Incredible Hulk (2008), wearing a gold chain and saying, "I've got to eat, don't I?"
[Ethan Coen] once described the way we worked together as: one of us types into the computer while the other holds the spine of the book open flat. That's why there needs to be two of us - otherwise he's gotta type one-handed. That's how you "collaborate" with someone else.
[upon winning the Oscar for Best Director for No Country for Old Men (2007)] In the late '60s, when [brother Ethan Coen] was 11 or 12, he got a suit and a briefcase and we went to the Minneapolis International Airport with a Super 8 camera and made a movie about shuttle diplomacy called "Henry Kissinger, Man on the Go". And, honestly, what we do now doesn't feel much different from what we were doing then.
There's no doubt that our Jewish heritage affects how we see things.
My most important professional accomplishment? I think that it's that I'm so scintillating and engaging in an interview.
I like Hollywood just the way it is, actually. I don't think I'd change anything. I like that it's out here 3,000 miles from where I live.
Someone asked us once how we adapt novels, and Ethan [Coen] said, "Joel holds the book open by the spine, while I retype it into the computer...Don't change it [the book] if it's not broken!
[on his and his brother Ethan's choice of characters in their films] What's interesting to us are the people you know that are very good at what they do but aren't necessarily successful.

See also

Other Works | Publicity Listings | Official Sites | Contact Info

Contribute to This Page