Ethan Coen Biography

(Film Producer and Director)

Birthday: September 21, 1957 (Virgo)

Born In: St. Louis Park, Minnesota, United States

Ethan Coen is an American filmmaker who has, together with his brother Joel Coen, written, produced, directed and edited a number of successful and acclaimed films. These include Barton Fink, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, No Country for Old Men and True Grit. Since the beginning of their career in 1984 till 2003, though the brothers were involved in both production and direction of the movies, Ethan Coen was credited as the producer while the credit for direction went to Joel. This changed later with the 2004 film The Ladykillers from which the brothers were credited both as the directors and producers of their films. The Coen brothers share the writing credits jointly and, under the pseudonym of Roderick Jaynes, also edit their films together. The brothers have received several awards for their work and their best director Academy Award for No Country for Old Men was the first where two directors received the honours together since 1961. For a number of films, the brothers have just written screenplays. These include Angelina Jolie’s directed Unbroken and Steven Spielberg directed Bridge of Spies. Apart from filmmaking, Ethan Coen has also written several stage plays, directed numerous commercials and penned a fiction book and a couple of collection of poems books as well. He made his solo directorial debut in 2022 with the documentary film Jerry Lee Lewis: Trouble In Mind.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Ethan Jesse Coen

Age: 66 Years, 66 Year Old Males


Spouse/Ex-: Tricia Cooke (m. 1990)

father: Edward Coen

mother: Rena Coen

siblings: Deborah, Joel Coen

children: Buster Coen, Dusty Coen

Born Country: United States

Directors T V & Movie Producers

Height: 5'8" (173 cm), 5'8" Males

U.S. State: Minnesota

More Facts

education: Princeton University

  • 1

    What inspired Ethan Coen to become a filmmaker?

    Ethan Coen was inspired by classic Hollywood cinema and the works of filmmakers such as Stanley Kubrick and Federico Fellini.
  • 2

    How does Ethan Coen approach writing screenplays?

    Ethan Coen often collaborates with his brother Joel Coen when writing screenplays, utilizing a unique and meticulous writing process that involves a focus on dialogue and characterization.
  • 3

    What are some recurring themes in Ethan Coen's films?

    Some recurring themes in Ethan Coen's films include dark humor, moral ambiguity, and the exploration of human nature's complexities.
  • 4

    How does Ethan Coen's directing style differ from other filmmakers?

    Ethan Coen's directing style is known for its precise attention to detail, use of wide shots, and ability to create tension and suspense through subtle techniques.
  • 5

    What impact has Ethan Coen had on the film industry?

    Ethan Coen, along with his brother Joel Coen, has made a significant impact on the film industry with their unique storytelling style and ability to blend genres in innovative ways.
Childhood & Early Life

Ethan Coen or Ethan Jesse Coen was born on 21 September 1957, in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, Minneapolis, to Rena Neumann Coen and Edward Coen. He has an older brother named Joel Coen and a sister named Deborah who is a psychiatrist by profession.

His mother was employed as an art historian at St. Cloud State University, while his father served in the United States Army during World War II and then worked as an Economics Professor at the University of Minnesota.

Ethan Coen went to St. Louis Park High School from where he graduated in 1976. Thereafter, he studied at the Bard College at Simon's Rock in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. He then pursued studies in philosophy from the Princeton University.

The Coen brothers were interested in watching and making films from very early. They saved money to buy a Super-8 camera which they used to remake their favourite movies as well as to make some new ones. Their original movies included Henry Kissinger - Man on the Go, Lumberjacks of the North and The Banana Film.

Continue Reading Below

After Princeton, Ethan Coen joined his brother Joel Coen in New York and took up a series of temporary office jobs including one as statistical typist at Macy's department store.

Their first commercial film project together was the 1984 film Blood Simple which they wrote, produced, directed and edited together.

From this time up until 2004, though the brothers were involved in all aspects of film making, yet Joel was credited as the director while Ethan was credited as the producer of the film. The brothers shared the credits for screenplay writing and additionally also edited their films jointly under the alias Roderick Jaynes.

After the critical and commercial success of their first film, the brothers’ next project together was Crimewave (1985) for which they co-wrote (with Sam Raimi) the screenplay and also did uncredited acting roles.

From the late 1980s up until the beginning of the new millennium, Ethan Coen co-wrote and produced Raising Arizona (1987), Miller's Crossing (1990), Barton Fink (1991), The Hudsucker Proxy (1994), Fargo (1996), The Big Lebowski (1998) and The Naked Man (1998, only writing). The brothers edited Barton Fink, Fargo and The Big Lebowski as Roderick Jaynes.

Amongst these, Barton Fink and Fargo stood out winning not just commercial success but nominations and wins at various award functions. While the former bagged three major awards (including best picture award) at the 1991 Cannes Film Festival, the latter won two Academy Awards including one for original screenplay.

The Hudsucker Proxy was their first big Hollywood venture; however, it was a massive failure.

The Big Lebowski was not successful when it came out; however, now it has received the status of a cult classic film.

Apart from films, the 1990s also saw the publication of Gates of Eden (1998), a collection of short stories written by Ethan Coen. A few years later, in 2001 another of his book – a collection of poems – titled The Drunken Driver Has the Right of Way: Poems was released.

Continue Reading Below

In films, he next co-wrote, produced and co-edited O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), The Man Who Wasn't There (2001) and Intolerable Cruelty (2003). Together with his brother, he also executive produced the documentary and concert film Down from the Mountain (2000) and a black comedy film Bad Santa (2003). They also did uncredited rewrite work on Bad Santa.

The 2004 film, The Ladykillers, was the first film where both the brothers received director and producer credits. They were also the writers and editors of the film which did not get a positive response.

The brothers next produced, directed, wrote and edited No Country for Old Men (2007), Burn After Reading (2008), A Serious Man (2009), True Grit (2010), Inside Llewyn Davis (2013), Hail, Caesar! (2016) and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018).

No Country for Old Men was huge commercial and critical success bagging four Academy Awards (including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay), three BAFTA (including best director) and two Golden Globes (including Best Screenplay). Their Academy Award for best director was the first time since 1961 that two directors received the honours together.

During this time, together, they also executive produced a film titled Romance & Cigarettes (2005); turned segment writers and directors for two separate anthology films Paris, je t'aime (2006) and Chacun son cinema (2007); and wrote (sometimes with other writers) other films like A Simple Noodle Story (2009), Gambit (2012), Unbroken (2014) Bridge of Spies (2015) and Suburbicon (2017).

In his career, Ethan worked for theatre as well writing plays like Almost an Evening (2008), Offices (2009), Happy Hour (2011) the one-act comedy Talking Cure (as part of anthology play Relatively Speaking in 2011), Women or Nothing (2013) and A Play is A Poem (2019).

In 2012, another of his book – a collection of poems – titled, The Day the World Ends: Poems, came out. He has directed numerous commercials too – both solo as well as with his brother.

In May 2022, Ethan Coen made his solo directorial debut by making the A24 documentary film Jerry Lee Lewis: Trouble In Mind. It premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.

Family & Personal Life

Ethan Coen’s first marriage was with a woman named Hillary. They married in 1985 but divorced shortly afterwards. In 1990, he married Tricia Cooke and the couple have a son named Buster Jacob and a daughter named Dusty.

Facts About Ethan Coen
Ethan Coen is known for his unique sense of humor, which often shines through in the quirky characters and dialogue featured in his films.
He has a passion for music and has co-written several songs for the soundtracks of Coen Brothers movies.
Ethan Coen is an avid reader and has cited literature as a major influence on his work as a filmmaker.
He is known for his distinctive fashion sense, often sporting colorful and patterned socks at public events.
Ethan Coen is a skilled poker player and has participated in high-profile celebrity poker tournaments.


Academy Awards(Oscars)
2008 Best Motion Picture of the Year No Country for Old Men (2007)
2008 Best Achievement in Directing No Country for Old Men (2007)
2008 Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay No Country for Old Men (2007)
1997 Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen Fargo (1996)
Golden Globe Awards
2008 Best Screenplay - Motion Picture No Country for Old Men (2007)
BAFTA Awards
2008 Best Director No Country for Old Men (2007)

See the events in life of Ethan Coen in Chronological Order

How To Cite

Article Title
- Ethan Coen Biography
- Editors,

People Also Viewed

Joel Coen Biography
Joel Coen
Ryan Reynolds Biography
Ryan Reynolds
Ben Affleck Biography
Ben Affleck
Tom Cruise Biography
Tom Cruise
Kevin Spacey Biography
Kevin Spacey
Leonardo DiCaprio Biography
Leonardo DiCaprio
Brad Pitt Biography
Brad Pitt
Michael J. Fox Biography
Michael J. Fox