The Coen Brothers are two of the most 'un-Hollywood' Hollywood filmmakers working today. Their films have a unique style and the brotherly filmmaking team are often eclectic, with a range of genres and time periods.
For filmmakers as important as they are within the film community, there is always a pressure to provide sequels to some of their most beloved films. The one that is always in the highest demand is their cult classic, The Big Lebowski, which was mostly ignored upon its initially released.
But, in 2009, the Coen Brothers were first said to be considering an unexpected sequel to their 1991 film, Barton Fink:
“It would be called ’Old Fink,'” Joel said.
“We did talk to [John] Turturro about doing ’Old Fink,'” Ethan added. “We want John to be old enough to do it.”
The brothers even have (at least) a baseline idea of how they would form the story. “That’s another 1967 movie,” Joel said in reference to “A Serious Man,” which is also set during that turbulent period. “It’s the summer of love and [Fink is] teaching at Berkeley. He ratted on a lot of his friends to the House Un-American Activities committee.”
“He’s got the George Kaufman hair but he’s going gray,” Ethan said. “He wears a medallion.” As if that explains everything. And it kinda does.
“We told Turturro this is one sequel we’d actually like to make but not until he was actually old enough to play the part,” Joel explained.
How old is old enough, you may ask? “He’s getting there,” Ethan said.
Barton Fink, a surrealist classic, is one of the rare films that won the 1991 Palme d'Or, the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival, as well as Best Director and Best Actor for John Tuttoro. This distinction was, in fact, so rare that the festival saw to it that rules were in place to avoid it from happening again.
Still, five years pass, and still nothing to hear from Old Fink. The Coens win Best Picture in 2010 with No Country For Old Men, make a few more movies, and then actor John Tuttoro, who played Barton, had this to say in 2014:
[The Coen Brothers have] talked about [the "Barton Fink" sequel] but we'll see. They’re waiting for me to get a little older. But it's up to them. I'd work for them anytime anywhere. I consider them dear friends and lovely people to work with. - Indie Wire
One can write this off as something that is forever lost in the shuffle of unannounced projects. During most interviews, the Coens are often incredibly vague and off-putting about their past films as well as whatever they're making next. So, the entire idea could be written off as one long elaborate joke. That is until the silence of Old Fink was broke yesterday.
Variety recently interviewed the brothers about their newest film, Hail Ceasar!, when the question of sequels came up again. This time, the interviewer asked (yet again) if a sequel were to be made for Big Lebowski. After the brothers quickly shot that down, they had this to say,
In fact, there’s only one story from their storied catalogue that could get a second installment. “We’re going to do a ‘Barton Fink’ sequel at some point,” Ethan explained, citing the 1991 Palme d’Or winner about a 1960s playwright who moves to Hollywood. “It’s going to be Turturro in Berkeley in the ’60s.”
Added Joel: “That’s the one movie that we thought deserved a sequel, called ‘Old Fink.’ But we don’t want to do it until Turturro is quite old. He’s getting there.”
"He's getting there" is a line that predates to the first time this was mentioned in 2009, so that can be taken with a grain of salt. Could this all be one cruel act of teasing an audience, or are the Coens for real?
Could the enigmatic brothers be so delightfully cruel that they craft this bizarre sequel as nothing more than a prank? Or perhaps the fact that the sequel is still churning in their heads could give us hope for the rare (and possibly only) Coen Brothers sequel.