Coen Brothers & Stars Discuss ‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,’ Westerns, Oxen Wranglers & More [NYFF]

The Playlist | 10/8/2018 | Joe Blessing
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The Coen Brothers have shown interest in the Western genre for years, dating back to their Western set-early films “Blood Simple” and “Raising Arizona” to their later more direct takes on the genre, their Oscar-winning Cormac McCarthy adaptation “No Country for Old Men” and their John Wayne remake “True Grit.” As they sat down at the New York Film Festival to discuss their latest, they revealed that they had been writing the episodes comprising “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” on and off for years. “They were written over 25 years really…but they just got put in a drawer because they were short movies and we didn’t really know what we were going to do with them and probably didn’t expect to make them until maybe 8 or 10 years ago when we started thinking maybe we can do this” (about the time they won Oscars).

“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” is an anthology film, consisting of six stories with different characters and tones, but all set in the Old West. Joining the Coens to discuss the film were Tim Blake Nelson, who plays the titular dapper singing cowboy Buster Scruggs in the film’s hilarious opening as well as Zoe Kazan and Bill Heck, who star together (along with a loud terrier named President Pierce) in a chapter that takes place on a wagon train heading to Oregon.

Questions - Audience - Moderator - Kent - Jones

Many of the questions from the audience and moderator Kent Jones focused on the episodic nature of the narrative. Addressing early rumors that the stories would form a limited series on Netflix, they revealed that they had always intended the stories to be seen together and there was no other material considered for inclusion. Asked about how the order of the stories came about, Ethan Coen said “We didn’t really think of an order, in...
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