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Spielberg, Hanks Talk Coen Brothers Influence On ‘Bridge Of Spies’

Our Adam Garcia had a chance to ask Steven Spielberg and the cast about the Coen Brothers’ influence on the upcoming Cold War drama – Bridge Of Spies.

Adam: This film has a very distinct Coen Brother’s flair—and this is for everybody—I wanted to know how their style effected your direction and your acting?

Spielberg: Yeah I wonder what they had to do with any of this? (laughter)I—I think that, you know the Coen Brothers, looked upon this—they’re not here to speak for themselves, so I’m just gonna y’know hazard a guess that this was a genre that they were very compelled by from their early years as, you know, lovers of movies and genres, like the spy genre. And I know that they reached out to us because they heard about the story and they expressed their interest to this story. I think when they reached out to us they thought that we just had a treatment and didn’t even have a script yet and were wondering if I wanted to meet with them and I let them know that we did have a script—a wonderful script by Matt Charman—but I was going to you know go deep with all the characters, and deeper the story and deeper with the research and they threw their hats in the ring. They really came to us and stepped on board because this was a genre that really piqued their interests. And we’re very lucky to have them because—And that was the script that Tom first read and—and that Mark first read—that everybody on this—

Rylance: Matt’s script?

Spielberg: Uh, yeah, yeah, yeah. So, so y’know, they made a huge contribution, huge contribution, while always acknowledging the heavy lifting that Matt Charman did when he first found the story and put it all together in a manageable very taught drama.

Rylance: It felt—I—I took the job on the first script, which as Steven said was a wonderful job. And it was absolutely fascinating to then see to what the—to see what the Coen Brother’s imagination does to a script and imagine Steven’s as well, working hand-in-hand with them. But my image for it is going to a very good masseur and you feel all the blood and the energy is going right to the fingertips. The kinda of core blood of this—of the theme of the piece was now suddenly into all extremities and details of the story. So it wasn’t a different story than what Matt had created, it was Matt’s body, but they—they just kind of really got the spine in place and massaged it and clicked a few things it felt—it felt even more alive and um, and whole. I suppose you might—

Alan Alda: Did they come up with that wonderful scene early on about “it’s not my guy?”

Spielberg: Yes.

Alda: Because that’s such a open to an—

Tom Hanks: They—This is the second time I’ve been in a—anything that the Coens had done. I call them uh, Joe and Nathan… And—and their dialogue scans, if you know what that means. It ends up—it ends up devolving into almost like a percussive give and take that different than other, than other motion picture dialogue in which there’s mostly text as oppose to subtext. And there’s a number of great examples of it throughout, but that first scene, which is essentially an insurance negotiation that’s—I that’s them to a tee. There is a—I don’t want to say literate in like using it in a—I don’t want to put too many roses on what they do, but there is a cadence that is individual to each character, that—the dialogue scans in a way. Because a lot of times you read um, in a screenplay in which one very specific thing is happening in the scene and both characters sound the same after awhile. They just lock into antagonist, protagonist thing and that just never happens with this. It seems as though somebody is rocking back on their heels in a Coen Brothers scene while another person is making arguments you can’t even begin to imagine. And that’s—that’s—I must say it’s pretty cool when you get to wrap your heads around it.

Alda: Did they add that “Would it matter?” The Abel line.

Hanks: That’s a good question. I don’t know.

Spielberg: Yes.

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