With Oscar time around the corner - well, almost - TF decided to sit down with the Coens to talk about their chances...
Have you read the great reviews that No Country For Old Men is getting?
Joel: Some. Some. I mean…
Ethan: [Laughs] In the car on the way over, did you see that magazine thing?
E: This movie magazine… it was kinda funny. A bunch of crap about… I didn’t even read what they said about this movie. But about our other movies. Goddamn they gave us a lot of pages. Ah, but no. As a rule, I… God, there’s so many…
J: You can’t avoid them: they plaster them all over the poster or they put them in pop-ups in the theatres. I used to read them much more years ago. It’s a novelty when you first start making movies. You go, ‘Wow, people are writing about this in the newspaper!’ And then as you get older, you make more and more of them, it really is the case that you get to a certain point where you’ve read everything good and bad that anyone can say about you. You’ve read it before and you’re kind of less interested. Good or bad.
E: It’s part of the process.
Do you want to win an Oscar?
E: Yeah, sure, it would help.
J: Again, why not? If it’s going help sell tickets to the movie. It’s always somewhere in your head – it’s always nicer to be invited than not to be invited. Does it have anything to do with why you make the movie, how to make the movie or what you’re going to do after? No. But on the otherhand, is it a completely neutral thing in your head? No, it’s can’t be. There’s too much bound up in it.
Is it fun going to the Oscars?
E: We’ve been a couple or a few times. The first time I went I was surprised how much the experience was like watching on TV: you get all kind of giddy at the beginning and then it beats you down and it gets really boring! It’s just really boring! [laughs]
J: It’s very long. Hmm.
But you’ll still go if you’re nominated?
J: Let me tell you something, if you don’t go, it becomes such a big deal. You know? Just in terms of people’s reaction to that.
E: There’s a whole – legitimate – studio thing about supporting the movie, so it’s not like I’m complaining. It’s a bunch of things – doing this, doing press, the awards shows. It’s all the same crap, and you’re expect to do it, and they give you a lot of money to make the movie, you know.
And you get a nice goodie bag, right?
E: Oh, no, no…
J: No, I think that’s only with presenters. I think it used to be but no longer…
E: I think they stopped that, I don’t know why.
J: But the other thing that’s changed about the Oscars over the years – and again this sounds like a bellyache, but, oh, who cares? – it’s become so much more financial. It’s like a presidential campaign. The money that goes into it.
E: It’s funny because it’s so weirdly different from now, but with Fargo I remember getting a call at 4am that we’d got like seven nominations. We hadn’t done any campaigning or ads or lunches to try to get people to vote. It’s become sort of an arms race now!
J: Right, it’s become an arms race. Millions of dollars on these things. I’m not even sure it’s cost-effective. If they all just said, ‘Fuck it’, whoever gets the nominations gets the nominations – and they’re worth a certain amount at the box office – they could sit back and save millions of dollars.
Which Oscar would you like ideally?
J: The Irving Thalberg award.
E: That’s the award most coveted by producers, director, writers and actors themselves. The Miss Congeniality award!