Though Joel and Ethan Coen are best known for their eccentric perspectives on everything from murder (Fargo) to stoner life (The Big Lebowski), No Country for Old Men was one of their biggest box office blockbusters ten years ago. The film, which takes place in West Texas in the 1980s and is based on Cormac McCarthy's 2005 novel (which the author also wrote as a screenplay), follows the intersecting paths of Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin), a Vietnam veteran who stumbles upon a drug deal gone bad in the West Texas desert and $2 million in cash that appears to be for the taking.
Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), a dead-eyed, cattle stun gun-wielding psychopath hell-bent on discovering the lost money, and Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), the soon-to-be-retired sheriff tasked with tracking them both down.
There is no place for old men in our country. On May 19, 2007, the film screened in competition at the Cannes Film Festival. The picture was a financial success, making $171 million worldwide on a $25 million budget. Critics lauded the Coens' directing and script, as well as Bardem's acting, and the film received 76 awards from 109 nominations from various organisations, including four Oscars (including Best Picture), three BAFTAs, and two Golden Globes. It was named an AFI Movie of the Year by the American Film Institute, and the National Board of Review named it the finest film of 2007.
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Heath Ledger was said to be the Coens' initial choice for the character of Llewelyn Moss, and he appeared to enjoy working with Joel and Ethan. He apparently withdrew himself for consideration after some early meetings in order to take some “time off” from work.
Despite the fact that it was one of their most commercially and critically successful films, neither Joel nor Ethan Coen can take credit for the concept of adapting Cormac McCarthy's novel. In an interview, Joel Coen remarked, “It was handed to us by [producer] Scott Rudin, who had bought the rights to it.” “About a year before it came out, he sent it to us in galleys.” He asked if we were interested in making it, and we read it. We'd both read previous Cormac McCarthy books for fun and like them, but this one, we felt, might make a very intriguing film.”
Despite the fact that Josh Brolin wasn't exactly a household name at the time he earned the part of Moss, he had some strong pals on his side. While filming Grindhouse with Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, Brolin learnt about the part and requested if he could borrow a camera to shoot a brief audition for No Country for Old Men. The directorial pair went one step farther and directed his audition.
Brolin fractured his shoulder just days after coming on to portray Moss when his motorcycle collided with a vehicle. Brolin chose to stick it out and not mention his injuries rather than pull out of the picture he worked so hard to get into. After seeing the picture at the Toronto Film Festival, Brolin admits, “I got lucky.” “I didn't have to appear wounded because my character is shot in the shoulder early on.”
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The film was a 50/50 co-production between Miramax Films and Paramount's classics-based division, with shooting set to begin in May 2006 in New Mexico and Texas. Production was slated for the New Mexico cities of Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and Las Vegas (which doubled as the border towns of Eagle Pass and Del Rio, Texas), with other scenes shot around Marfa and Sanderson in West Texas, with a total budget of $25 million (at least half of which was spent in New Mexico). The border crossing bridge between the United States and Mexico was really a highway overpass in Las Vegas, with a border checkpoint erected at the intersection of Interstate 25 and New Mexico State Highway 65.