Joel Coen on new ‘Macbeth’ film: “We weren’t interested in doing a realistic version”

The director has struck out on his own after four decades of making films with his brother

Joel Coen has opened up about his vision for The Tragedy Of Macbeth, his solo directorial debut, as well as the possibility of working with his brother again in the future.

The Coen Brothers – the directorial team comprising Joel Coen and his brother Ethan – have scored a string of critical hits across the years with films such as The Big Lebowski (1998), O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), and No Country For Old Men (2007).

While promoting the upcoming Shakespeare adaptation, Joel explained that he had found the process of working without his brother for the first time a strange experience at first.

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“I spent 40 years looking over at Ethan after each shot or looking at him if there was a problem. And, so, I missed him because that wasn’t there,” Coen said in a recent interview (per AP News).

The Tragedy Of Macbeth stars Denzel Washington as Macbeth and Frances McDormand – who is married to Coen, and had reportedly wanted to develop the project as a new stage adaptation – as Lady Macbeth.

“On the other hand, Fran was there as a producer bringing a different skill set that was in some ways absent from things we’d done earlier – especially in the context of this particular movie because of her experience in the theatre.”

 

Coen continued: “The ambition was to do it very much as a movie in terms of embracing what the medium gives you stylistically and psychologically and formally, but trying not to lose the essence of the play-ness of the piece of literature.

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“From the very beginning, we weren’t interested in doing a realistic version of the play. We weren’t interested in a rent-a-castle version.”

Earlier this year (August 4), long-time Coen Brothers composer Carter Burwell recently claimed that Joel and Ethan Coen might never make another film together.

However, on the subject of working with Ethan again, Joel said: “Who knows what will happen in the future? With Ethan and I, when we started off working, we never said for how long or is this a permanent thing. We don’t interrogate each other’s decisions in that respect.”

The Tragedy Of Macbeth will be in UK cinemas from December 26, and will later be available to stream via Apple TV+ from January 14.

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