Roger Deakins Told The Coen Brothers He’d Stop Talking To Them If They Don’t Perform ‘No Country for Old Men’

If Roger Deakins wins his third Oscar tomorrow night at the 95th Academy Awards, where he’s nominated for his work on “Empire of Light,” it will simply be the final achievement in one of the most incredible careers in the history of the movie theater. Over the past 40 years, he has racked up 16 Oscar nominations while working with many of Hollywood’s top directors, including frequent collaborations with the Coen brothers, Sam Mendes and Denis Villeneuve.

In a new interview with GQ, Deakins reflected on his sprawling filmography while sharing behind-the-scenes stories from some of his most well-known works. When Cormac McCarthy’s Oscar-winning adaptation of the Coen Brothers “No Country for Old Men” was released, Deakins revealed that he played an even bigger role in the film than he was credited for. Besides being the Coens’ cinematographer, he was also one of the reasons they decided to make the film.

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Deakins explained that the Coens were initially only attached to the project as screenwriters and were considering handing the film over to someone else. But after reading McCarthy’s novel, Deakins launched a full court press to make sure his longtime friends and collaborators ran it.

“Joel said we were doing this script, ‘No Country for Old Men.’ I had just read the book, so I said ‘you’re not going to realize?’ And he said, ‘well, we could.’ I said “I will never talk to you again if you don’t direct it”.

Deakins then spoke about Joel and Ethan Coen’s obsessive preparation for the film and recalled being impressed with how clearly they were able to articulate their vision for the finished film early in the process.

“The thing about Joel and Ethan is they love getting into different worlds. They just move into different genres in a very interesting way. But they’re very prepared, they spend a lot of time talking about it, doing drawings, storyboards, studying locations,” he said. “One of the things that Joel and Ethan said early on when we were shooting was ‘just be aware, we’re not going to have music on it”. They knew from the start, long before we started shooting, that the only sound would be natural sound.

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