We've long wondered how, exactly, the Coen brothers' enigmatic, seemingly telepathic relationship works. Joel (the tall one) is usually credited as the director and Ethan as the writer, but as Joel told us a few weeks ago at the New York Film Festival debut of No Country for Old Men, that was just a way to make the credits shorter. "Point of fact, we've always directed movies together." Javier Bardem, the movie's villain says, "They're like the same man with two heads."
How does the process work? "Well, we're both on set. Whoever is closest to the question that needs to be answered answers the question," Joel says. "But, no, we don't speak in unison." "We don't really divide up tasks," Ethan interjects. "We both kind of do the same thing, whatever amorphous thing that is. We start by writing the script together, and everything else proceeds from that. If you walked onto one of our sets and tried to figure out what we were doing, you'd be hard-pressed. Mostly we just sit around." "Yeah," said Joel. "You'd be hard-pressed to know why we were there."
"I was under the wrong impression that one of them was at the helm," says Kelly Macdonald, who plays Josh Brolin's wife in the movie. "It was very confusing. They're both sort of everything. They both direct, write, produce. They must be the two brothers who get on best in history." What they don't do, according to Brolin, who plays a rancher on the run, is talk. "When we have no complaints, we don't speak up. It's true," says Ethan. Macdonald said she thought she'd figured out their code. "Well, if they like something, they nod. They come up scratching beards or heads and nod and say, 'Yeah. Yeah.' And then we go for another one."
There's one thing about the Coen brothers of which we can be sure: They have a sick, sick sense of humor, with Bardem and his hair being the main victims. "It was just depressing to look in the mirror and see that haircut," says Bardem of the worst movie coif since Christian Slater's in Gleaming the Cube. "I had to live with that! It wasn't a wig. It was my hair! It's bad. It's really bad. You go to the market to buy your milk and people get weird, like really scared." So how could the Coens make it up to him? "It's the worst haircut I've ever had," he says. "They owe me another movie." —Jada Yuan