WTF Happened to No Country for Old Men?

Last Updated on November 1, 2022

No Country for Old Men is one of the Coen Brothers most universally beloved and popular films. An adaptation of the novel by the legendary Cormac McCarthy, the film probably didn’t seem like a sure-fire box office smash when it was pitched, but something about this movie really caught-on with audiences. It must be said that when the Coen’s go for broke and make thrillers, they’re always amazing, and No Country for Old Men was unforgettable in a lot f ways. For one thing, it had one of the great movie villains in Javier Bardem’s Anton Chigurh, a ghoulish cartel hitman who dispatches victims with a cattle bolt pistol to gruesome effect. It also boasted Tommy Lee Jones playing perfectly to type as the seen it all sheriff, with him having a special kinship with the works of Cormac McCarthy (his dialogue never sounds better than coming out of Jones’ mouth).

Notably, the film also kickstarted a significant career resurgence for Josh Brolin. At the time, he was primarily a second lead (at best), and he wasn’t the original choice for the lead role, with Heath Ledger the one the Coens originally wanted. His performance as Llewelyn Moss made him a leading man, but he came precariously close to not landing the role, as we explain in this week’s WTF Happened to this Movie. In this episode (written by Eric Walkuski, narrated by Mathew Plale and edited by Cesar Gomez), we dig into Brolin’s attempts to land the career-changing part, as well as who almost played Chighur when Bardem was suddenly unavailable. We also examine where the Coen Brothers were in their careers at the time and how its financial success stacks up against some of their most acclaimed films.

Do you think No Country for Old Men holds up? Let us know in the comments!

About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.