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Ethan Coen Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (4)  | Trade Mark (12)  | Trivia (23)  | Personal Quotes (6)

Overview (3)

Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
Birth NameEthan Jesse Coen
Height 5' 8" (1.73 m)

Mini Bio (1)

The younger brother of Joel, Ethan Coen is an Academy Award and Golden Globe winning writer, producer and director coming from small independent films to big profile Hollywood films. He was born on September 21, 1957 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In some films of the brothers- Ethan & Joel wrote, Joel directed and Ethan produced - with both editing under the name of Roderick Jaynes; but in 2004 they started to share the three main duties plus editing. Each film bring its own quality, creativity, art and with one project more daring the other.

His film debut was in 1984 dark humored thriller Blood Simple (1984) starring Frances McDormand (Joel's wife) and M. Emmet Walsh in a deep story revolving a couple of romantic lovers followed by an insisting private eye. The film received critical acclaim, some award nominations to Ethan (best writing at the Film Independent Spirit Awards) and became a cult following over the years. Their second work was the comedy Raising Arizona (1987) starring Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter as a unusual couple trying to create their family by kidnapping babies from a rich family.

Miller's Crossing (1990) was the third film of the brothers, a mob drama with heavy influences from several criminal dramas and with a stellar cast that included Gabriel Byrne, Marcia Gay Harden, Albert Finney, Steve Buscemi, John Turturro and Jon Polito (the latter three would become regular actors in the Coen's films).

Their views on the Hollywood era of the 1930's was the central theme is the great Barton Fink (1991), created from a writers block both brothers suffered during the making of their previous film. John Turturro stars as a writer who suffers from a breakdown when he's commissioned to a big budget Hollywood project. The film was a breakthrough for the Coens marking their first win at the Cannes Film Festival (Joel got the Palme d'Or) and the first time a film of their received Oscar nominations. The underrated comedy The Hudsucker Proxy (1994) was what followed; but no one could predict their next big and boldest move that would definitely put Ethan and Joel on the spotlight once and for all.

The comedy of errors Fargo (1996) was a huge critical and commercial success. With its crazed story of a man who hires two loonies to kidnap his own wife and a pregnant policewoman tracking the leads to the crime, Ethan and Joel came at their greatest moment that couldn't be missed. The film received several awards during award season and the Coen's got their first Oscar in the Best Original Screenplay category. What came next was the underrated yet hilariously good The Big Lebowski (1998) starring Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, John Turturro and Steve Buscemi. Those masterpieces made their career in the late 1990's cementing the duo as one of the greatest writers and directors of their generation, if not, from all time.

The Odyssey retold for the 1930's in O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000); the intelligent noir The Man Who Wasn't There (2001); the comedy Intolerable Cruelty (2003) and a remake The Ladykillers (2004) marked their way into the early 2000's. Certaintly of period of minor hits and some downer moments.

The big return was with the highly acclaimed No Country for Old Men (2007), where the brothers swooped at the Oscars with three wins: Best Picture, Screenplay and Writing, an adaptation from the Cormac McCarthy's novel.

A Serious Man (2009), Burn After Reading (2008), True Grit (2010), Inside Llewyn Davis (2013), Hail, Caesar! (2016) and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018) were the subsequent films, all well received by audiences or got awards recognition, mostly nominations.

A shift from tone and career move was writing with other writers and for another directors: for Angelina Jolie's Unbroken (2014), for Spielberg in Bridge of Spies (2015) and George Clooney in Suburbicon (2017).

As for personal life, Ethan has been married to Tricia Cooke since 1990. Tricia works as an assistant editor in several of the Coen brothers films.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Rodrigo Amaro

Family (4)

Spouse Tricia Cooke (2 October 1990 - present)  (2 children)
Children Buster Jacob Coen
Dusty Coen
Parents Rena Neumann Coen
Edward Coen
Relatives Pedro McDormand Coen (niece or nephew)
Joel Coen (sibling)

Trade Mark (12)

Frequently casts Steve Buscemi (6 times), Frances McDormand (5 times), Jon Polito (5 times), John Goodman (4 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 (4 times), and Billy Bob Thornton (twice).
References to the films of Stanley Kubrick
Films often center around or include a botched crime
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).
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 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 South-Eastern 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 films often feature a big male character who talks loudly or yells at the camera. E.g. John Goodman in The Big Lebowski (1998), Raising Arizona (1987), Barton Fink (1991) and O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000).
A tense situation in a moving car. E.g. Fargo (1996), The Big Lebowski (1998), Burn After Reading (2008) and Blood Simple (1984).
Moving POV shots, sometimes from the perspective of moving cars

Trivia (23)

Brother of Joel Coen.
Graduated from Princeton University, where he once tried to explain a missed deadline by saying that he had lost one of his arms during a hunting accident.
Works so closely with his brother Joel Coen that the two of them have been jokingly referred to as "The Two-Headed Director".
Alumnus of Simon's Rock College, Great Barrington, MA, with brother Joel Coen. This is a fully-accredited college for students who typically enter at age 16 - before graduating high school.
Ranked #88 in Premiere's 2003 annual Power 100 List with brother Joel Coen. They had been ranked #92 in 2002.
Brother-in-law of Frances McDormand.
He and brother Joel Coen have had final cut on all of their films since Blood Simple (1984), their debut film.
Frequently includes kidnapping plots in his films.
Has used the character name of Marva Munson in both of his past two films. First, in Intolerable Cruelty (2003) (Judge Marva Munson) and secondly, in The Ladykillers (2004) (Marva Munson).
Worked as a statistical clerk at Macy's before setting off to make Blood Simple (1984).
He (along with his brother Joel Coen) is part of 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), Billy Wilder for The Apartment (1960) and Leo McCarey for Going My Way (1944), and Alejandro G. Iñárritu for Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014). 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).
The first Coen brothers film where both he and brother Joel 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.
Has a younger sister named Deborah, who is a psychiatrist.
Was briefly married to a woman named Hillary in 1985. Has two children, a son Buster Jacob Coen and a daughter Dusty, with current wife Tricia Cooke.
His mother, Rena Neumann Coen, died of kidney disease in 2001.
Along with his brother Joel, has directed six actors in Oscar-nominated performances: Michael Lerner, Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, Javier Bardem, Jeff Bridges, and Hailee Steinfeld. McDormand and Bardem each won Oscars for performances in their separate movies.
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 (1991) was written while they were battling writer's block with Miller's Crossing (1990), and the first 40 pages of The Big Lebowski (1998) was written while they were stuck with Barton Fink (1991).
As of 2018, he and Joel Coen wrote five films that were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar: Fargo (1996), No Country for Old Men (2007), A Serious Man (2009),True Grit (2010) and Bridge of Spies (2015). Of those, only No Country for Old Men (2007) is a winner in the category.
Both he and his brother Joel are huge fans of Stanley Kubrick.
Along with his brother Joel, edits all of the films they direct under the shared pseudonym "Roderick Jaynes." He has said that if "Jaynes" ever won an Academy Award for Best Editing, it would not be accepted by either of them and simply claimed by the Price-Waterhouse representative (who would presumably have it sent to one of them after the ceremony). In 1997, Joel and Ethan wrote a long article using the Jaynes alias as the reporters name, where "Jaynes" harshly criticized wannabe hauteur filmmakers and used the Coen brothers as the prime example of this negative trend.
Together with brother, Joel Coen, he produced, directed, wrote and edited four films that were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar: Fargo (1996), No Country for Old Men (2007), A Serious Man (2009) and True Grit (2010). No Country for Old Men won Best Picture of 2007.
He has directed two films that have been selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant: Fargo (1996) and The Big Lebowski (1998).

Personal Quotes (6)

It's easy to offend people. People get uncomfortable, for instance, when the main character in a movie is not sympathetic in a Hollywood formula way. Our movies are loaded with things that aren't to everyone's taste. On the other hand, there's a scene in [O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)] where a frog gets squished that everyone seems to like. It's all right to do the frog squishing.
We aren't the grandfathers of any movement. In the 1980s, the so-called indie film movement was a media creation. What I found irritating is that 'independent' became an encomium. If it was independent, it was supposed to be good, and studio films were bad. Obviously, there are bad independent films and good studio films.
The movie people let us play in the corner of the sandbox and leave us alone. We're happy here.
The awards put a movie on people's radars. Festivals are good, even though the idea of putting movies in competitions -- this one is the best this, that one is the best that -- is ridiculous.
[re origin of Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)] Ethan Coen We were in the office and Joel said, "O.K., suppose Dave Van Ronk gets beat up outside of Gerde's Folk City. That's the beginning of a movie. [Joel Coen adds:] It was an idea we kept coming back to. We were thinking 1961 is interesting, because it's the scene that [Bob] Dylan came into, not the one he created or transformed, because people know more about that. Dylan once said something - and I'm paraphrasing him - "Really, all I wanted is to be as big as Dave Van Ronk." That's how limited that scene was, in terms of the people in the broader culture. [Ethan:]...We did start thinking about Dave Van Ronk, and in fact read his memoir, which is kind of great, "The Mayor of Macdougal Street." But the movie's not about Dave Van Ronk, although Oscar [Isaac], the character, has his kind of repertoire. It's his music. It's a fictional character we gave his music to.
We've always actually been remarkably commercially successful. Not in terms of making huge amounts of money, which we rarely do, but in terms of not losing money and making modest amounts of money. We're actually strangely consistent in that respect. We've been able to keep making movies because of that and also because, strangely, we've had studio patrons, starting from Barry Diller. Sometimes they're establishment people who know they're not going to make huge amounts of money, but they like your movies. They're moviegoers, too.

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