Ethan and Joel Coen"The thing is Raymond Burr could have played J. Edgar Hoover." -- Joel Coen

The Oscar-winning Coen Brothers follow up the bleak, blood-soaked 'No Country for Old Men' with 'Burn After Reading,' a not-so-bleak, somewhat blood-soaked black comedy that's part spy thriller, part sex farce, 100 percent fun.

Joel Coen and Ethan Coen chat with Moviefone about Brad Pitt and George Clooney's surprising scene, their penchant for crossing genres, one famous actor's penchant for cross-dressing and why they wish they'd worked with Perry Mason.

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12 Questions With the Coen Brothers

    Hot on the heels of the Oscar-winning 'No Country for Old Men,'Joel and Ethan Coen return to their dark comedic ways with the madcap spy thriller/sex farce/satire 'Burn After Reading.'

    Filled with violence, humor and a star-studded ensemble that includes Brad Pitt as a moronic personal trainer, George Clooney as a sex-crazed manchild and John Malkovich as an axe-wielding ex-CIA man, the film is, to say the least, bloody entertaining.

    Moviefone caught up with the Coen Brothers in Toronto to discuss their knack for blending film genres, Brad and George's surprising scene and the cross-dressing proclivities of one very famous actor.

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    1. The CIA, online dating, the fitness world and a very weird sex toy built by George Clooney -- how'd they all end up in one movie?

    Ethan: Well, the sex toy -- who's going to complain? [Laughs.]

    Joel: You know, there were a bunch of actors we wanted to work with, and for some reason we decided to make it nominally a spy story. It's not really a spy story when you get down to it. It's just a bunch of people in Washington running around acting like children.

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    2. Was it a conscious decision to do something lighter after 'No Country'?

    Joel: No, we wrote this I think before 'No Country,' and it was shot before 'No Country' came out. In terms of when we decided to do the movie that was really frankly a function of getting all the actors' availabilities and wrangling them for the same three-month window -- that kind of dictated when it was going to be.

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    3. This was the first time you'd worked with Brad Pitt and John Malkovich. How'd you get them onboard?

    Joel: We knew Brad a little bit -- we'd never worked with him, but knew him a little bit because we'd almost made another movie with him a few years ago. John I think we'd met once, but he was one of these actors we'd always wanted to do something with. So it for some reason felt natural to write a part for him. It seemed to be interesting to think about him with the other actors we were thinking about.

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    4. Did you write any of the other actors' parts with them in mind?

    Ethan: Yeah, John's and Brad's and George's ...

    Both: ... and Fran's [Frances McDormand's] and Richard Jenkins'.

    Joel: We had actually never worked with Tilda [Swinton] before, either.

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    5. Was it weird to have Brad and George in the same movie but only together in that one scene?

    Joel: Yeah, but let's not talk about that scene. [Both laugh.] Yeah, they hardly get a chance to know each other. So yeah, it was weird.

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    6. Are there any other actors you'd like to work with that you haven't yet?

    Joel: Oh yeah, I'm sure there are. They're always hard to [come up with on the spot]. Raymond Burr is someone we really wanted to work with -- but he's dead. But that was like the top of the list for a long time.

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    7. Are there any other younger, more alive actors?

    Joel: Younger than Raymond Burr? [Laughs.]

    Ethan: Not really.

    Joel: You're talking like Shia LaBeouf? [Laughs.] Um, let me think. Who is the young Raymond Burr?

    Ethan: I don't know. I don't know who the young anyone is.

    Joel:Michael Stuhlbarg? Not really, no. That's a different thing. I'm stumped on that one.

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    8. That's cool. So ...

    Ethan: Raymond Burr was a cross-dresser, you know?

    Moviefone: I had heard that.

    Joel: Yeah, somehow I equate him with J. Edgar Hoover in that [he was an] early cross-dresser.

    Ethan: Right -- that square-headed cross-dresser.

    Joel: The thing is Raymond Burr could have played J. Edgar Hoover.

    Ethan: Yeah, right down to the wardrobe.

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    9. This is your second movie in a row where a major character's storyline is wrapped up off-screen. Did you do that on purpose?

    Joel: Yeah, that's true. I hadn't thought about that before.

    Ethan: Well, you know in the one case it was given to us. It was the same in the novel ['No Country'] -- the character dies offstage.

    Joel: It wasn't a conscious design, but it is true. You don't get to see ... [Laughs.] It is true. I honestly hadn't thought about it in that way.


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