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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 that."

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 actor."

"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 do it."

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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