O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU
About The Production
Production began in Mississippi. As is
the case with all of their projects, the Coen brothers assembled a cast made up
of a combination of first-timers and alumni from their previous films. The
caliber of actors involved is attributable directly to Joel and Ethan as far as
Fellner is concerned, "because they're brilliant directors. They create
interesting material and they make phenomenal films and actors are attracted to
John Turturro, Michael Badalucco, John
Goodman, Charles Durning and Holly Hunter had all worked with Joel and Ethan
before. For some of them, their return was definitely by design.
"We always do a combination of
writing for specific actors and writing not knowing who's going to play the
part," says Joel about their methods when developing characters.
"Sometimes mid-way through writing the screenplay it becomes clear who we
want for a part so it ends up essentially being written for a specific
"In this instance," adds
Ethan, "we wrote for John Goodman—we knew we wanted him to play the sort
of the Cyclops equivalent—and the part of Penny for Holly. And we also wrote
the Babyface Nelson part for Michael Badalucco."
The casting of Pappy O'Daniel evolved
in a slightly different fashion. As Joel explains, "We didn't write it
with Charles Durning in mind, but after finishing it, he was the person we fixed
on. Since we'd worked with him before and had such a great time,
there wasn't any question in our
mind. We didn't look around for the Pappy part. We knew we wanted Charles to
The three lead roles of Everett, Pete
and Delmar were cast after the screenplay was finished. The choice of George
Clooney to play the fast-talking, debonair leading man Ulysses Everett McGill
seemed an obvious one to the filmmakers.
"George seems like a natural for
this part," explains Joel. "When we started thinking about him in the
role and then everything that we discovered about George along the way—meeting
him, working with him in the first few weeks—further confirmed that in our
minds. I think George also must have seen early on that it was a good fit."
Eric Fellner concurs. "On a
creative level, George Clooney in a Coen brothers' movie is very
appealing," he says. "We couldn't not go with that. But also, he's
a brilliant actor and he's perfect for the role."
Clooney admits that he jumped at the
chance to play Everett without knowing too many details about the character,
strictly for the opportunity to work with Joel and Ethan. "The idea of
getting a chance to work with guys like this was a thrill," says Clooney.
"They sent the script and before I read it, I said yes!
"When I did read it," he
continues, "I thought it was a hysterically funny and smart script. I
couldn't believe how lucky I was."
Tim Blake Nelson, who plays the role of
Delmar, considers himself equally fortunate and is also completely mystified by
the casting process. While he's acted in plays and films and directed films,
this is a first for him. "I've never had a role this size in a
movie," he explains. "Who would think to give an essentially unknown
actor a role this size?"
Tim recalls, a
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