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Coen Brothers to Write Steven Spielberg’s Next Project

The pair’s involvement adds momentum to the project, following the announcement of Tom Hanks’ attachment.

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(L-R)  Joel Coen and Ethan Coen getty

While Steven Spielberg is busy penning the sequel to Richard Donner’s “The Goonies“, what appears to be the director’s next project is shaping up, and shaping up nicely. After two-time Oscar winning actor Tom Hanks has been announced to play the lead role, the DreamWorks’ yet-untitled Cold War project has now landed itself a two-time Oscar winning and highly acclaimed screenwriting duo.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Joel and Ethan Coen have come on board to pen a draft of the screenplay that tells the true story of James Donovan, an attorney who was thrust into the center of the Cold War when he negotiated with the KGB for the release of downed U-2 spy plane pilot Gary Powers.

While Spielberg has yet to officially confirm his attachment to the project, sources suggest that the news of the Coen Brothers’ involvement renders it more than likely that the director will indeed opt to helm the film prior to his adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children Book, “The BFG”, slated for a 2015 shooting.

This project will mark the second collaboration between Hanks and the Coens, following 2004’s “The Ladykillers”, and the actor’s fourth collaboration with Spielberg. It will, however, be the first time the popular director and the acclaimed duo work together.

Joel and Etahn Coen wrote and directed their debut film, “Blood Simple”, in 1984. Upon its release the film received much praise and acclaim, and earned director Joel Coen awards at both the Sundance and Independent Spirit Awards. The pair went on to write and direct a string of commercially successful and critically acclaimed films, with their 1991’s “Barton Fink” earning Oscar nominations and winning three major awards at Cannes Film Festival, and their 1996 release, “Fargo” winning two Oscars – one for Best Original Screenplay and a Best Actress Oscar for the film’s star, Joel’s wife Frances McDormand.

In 1998 they released the critically praised “The Big Lebowski”, which is now regarded as a cult classic, and in 2007 earned four Oscars for “No Country for Old Man”, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, all of which received by the Coens, as well as Best Supporting Actor received by Javier Bardem.
The Coen Brothers have been nominated for thirteen Oscars throughout their career, and they are two of only seven filmmakers with three Oscars for the same film.

While they usually write, produce and direct their own work, this project won’t be the first time the duo has written for others. They have worked with directors Sam Raimi, J. Todd Anderson, Michael Hoffman, and most recently Angelina Jolie, with these efforts receiving much softer receptions than those usually reserved for their own films. But, as AintItCool’s Vincent Kim-Zahedi so eloquently puts it – “those films weren’t directed by Steven freaking Spielberg”.

Joel and Ethan Coen were born and raised in the suburb of St. Louis Park in Minnesota. Joel, who is three years older than Ethan spent four years in the undergraduate film program at New York University, while Ethan studied philosophy at Princeton University.

After graduating, Joel made his first test the steps alone in the film industry, learning the ins and outs through working as a production assistant on industrial films and music videos. It was during that time that the elder Coen discovered that he had a particular talent for film editing, with his first big break coming when he first was introduced to Sam Raimi, who happened to be looking for an assistant editor to work on his first feature film, “The Evil Dead”, released in 1981.

Three years later in 1984, the Coen Brothers got together for the first time, writing and directing “Blood Simple”, and continuing to become one of Hollywood’s most successful filmmaking duo in history.




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