Coen Brothers Finished As A Duo According To Longtime Collaborator Carter Burwell

It was always a bit odd that Joel Coen was directing The Tragedy of Macbeth all by himself, and not with his brother Ethan. The Coen Brothers are pretty much a Hollywood institution, but they haven’t made a movie together since 2018’s The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, which I must confess to having forgotten all about until just this moment. And maybe the lukewarm response to it has had an impact on one of the duo, who may not return to filmmaking.

According to longtime collaborator Carter Burwell, who has been composing movies for the Coens since 1984’s Blood Simple, Ethan Coen no longer wants to direct. He told Score: The Podcast

“Ethan just didn’t want to make movies anymore. Ethan seems to be very happy doing what he’s doing, and I’m not sure what Joel will do after [Macbeth].”

This is a pretty big deal, but not completely unexpected. Joel has talked about focusing on stage writing before, and that appears to be what he’s doing.

Burwell also made note of the Coens having “a ton of scripts they’ve written together that are sitting on various shelves” that could still emerge but aren’t in active development. Who knows if they’ll ever see the light of day?

The Tragedy of Macbeth stars Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand, making it an instant awards season contender. The film will have its world premiere at the New York Film Festival in September.


Travis Hopson has been reviewing movies before he even knew there was such a thing. Having grown up on a combination of bad '80s movies, pro wrestling, comic books, and hip-hop, Travis is uniquely positioned to geek out on just about everything under the sun. A vampire who walks during the day and refuses to sleep, Travis is the co-creator and lead writer for Punch Drunk Critics. He is also a contributor to Good Morning Washington, WBAL Morning News, and WETA Around Town. In the five minutes a day he's not working, Travis is also a voice actor, podcaster, and Twitch gamer. Travis is a voting member of the Critics Choice Association (CCA), Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), and Late Night programmer for the Lakefront Film Festival.