Facts about The Brothers

Born: 29 November 1954 (Joel) and 21 September 1957 (Ethan)
Best known as: The filmmaking pair who made Fargo and True Grit



The Coen Brothers Biography

Joel Coen and Ethan Coen — widely known as The Coen Brothers — are a filmmaking duo known first for quirky comedies including Raising Arizona (1987), Fargo (1996) and The Big Lebowski (1998).

Joel Coen (b. 29 November 1954) and Ethan Coen (b. 21 September 1957) grew up in Minnesota and went to college in Massachusetts.

Joel Coen got involved in the movie business in the early 1980s, working with Sam Raimi on The Evil Dead (1981) and Crimewave (1985) among other film projects.

The Coen Brothers’ first film together, Blood Simple (1984), was a critical success and set them on a career path of independently made movies that get as much attention as big Hollywood productions.

Early in their careers, Joel Coen was often credited as director and Ethan Coen as producer, though they shared filmmaking duties, including writing and editing; in later years they have also shared directing and producing credits.

The brothers have had their ups and downs at the box office, but they have a loyal audience and a reputation as thoughtful movie makers.

They won a screenwriting Oscar for Fargo (and Joel’s wife, Frances McDormand, won an Oscar for best actress), and in later years have worked with big-named stars such as George Clooney (2000’s O Brother, Where Art Thou?), Billy Bob Thornton (2001’s The Man Who Wasn’t There), Catherine Zeta-Jones (2003’s Intolerable Cruelty) and Tom Hanks (2004’s The Ladykillers).

Their other films include Miller’s Crossing (1990), Barton Fink (1991), and The Big Lebowski (1998). Their 2007 adaptation of Cormac McCarthy‘s novel No Country for Old Men won them Oscars for writing, direction and best picture. They were nominated for all three categories again for True Grit (2010).

After 2018’s The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Joel Coen alone directed Macbeth (2021), which brought Denzel Washington another Oscar nomination.


Related Biographies

Something in Common with The Coen Brothers