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The Coens abide: Joel & Ethan on refusing maturity

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"Inside Llewyn Davis" is in many ways a film about the vagaries of show business success: Llewyn’s fate hinges on catching a break. But the Coens’ fate was never much in question. Not long after Joel graduated from film school, he and Ethan were able to find funding for their debut, "Blood Simple," which was received well.

"It could have gone the other way," says Ethan. "We’re on the other side of the coin than this character."

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"We had enough success and enough stroking early on that we never felt like we were struggling and about to get bitter," says Joel. "We were incredibly lucky that way. But look around at all the people you know who do all kinds of things, a lot of those people are just as good as you are at what they do. And some of them really struggle. What is the reason for that?"

Right now, the brothers are plainly excited about what they’re writing, which they proudly explain, is set in ancient Rome. It’s the allure of the unexpected, all over again.

"It’s like: Would you ever do a sandal movie?" laughs Joel. "It’s big," says Ethan, grinning.

Though their movies usually revel in the absurdity of life’s predicaments, Ethan promises this film has answers: "It’s not like our piddly ‘A Serious Man.’" Chimes Joel: "That was a cop-out. We just totally chickened out on that one."

"We hadn’t grown up," says Ethan. "In that respect, OK, we have matured. We’re ready to answer the big questions now."

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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