In the early 2000s, the Coen brothers directed the comedy “O’Brother” with George Clooney and John Turturro. But did you know that some characters in their story actually existed? Focus on these real figures from the film.
O’Brother : a pleasant comedy
Is it really necessary to introduce the Coen brothers? This duo of American directors offered spectators emblematic works. It is they, for example, who realized The Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Man or Inside Llewyn Davis. In 2000, the two brothers stage O’Brother, a catchy comedy, portrayed by George Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson, Holly Hunter and the huge John Goodman. Comedians accustomed to films by the Coen brothers since John Goodman has toured with them six times during his career (Inside Llewyn Davis, O’Brother, The Big Lebowski, Le Grand saut, Barton Fink and Arizona Junior); George Clooney four times (Avé César, Intolerable Cruelty, Burn After Reading and O’Brother); and John Turturro also four times (Miller’s Crossing, Barton Fink, The Big Lebowski and O’Brother).
O’Brother tells the fate of three chained prisoners who escape from the Ulyssers Everett McGill penal colony in Mississippi. With nothing to lose, and united by their chains, they embark on a long journey to escape Sheriff Cooley. Without necessarily being the favorite film of the Coen brothers fans, O’Brother was still two-time Oscar nominee and brought back more than $ 71 million in box office revenue.
These characters really existed
If the three heroes of O’Brother are completely fictitious, some secondary characters who cross their path, really existed. Indeed, the Coen brothers took a few real figures from the time the film takes place to add them to the narrative. Thereby, George Babyface Nelson, played by Michael Badalucco was actually a 1930s gangster. But if he really did exist, the character described by the Coen brothers has very little in common with the original as Michael Badalucco confessed:
What he becomes in the minds of the Coen brothers is very different from what we saw in old detective films.
George Babyface Nelson, born in 1908, was a bank robber and murderer. He was notably the accomplice of John Dillinger, whom he helped escape from prison during the famous “wooden gun” escape. He was public enemy n ° 1 from July 23 to November 27, 1934, becoming with the other surviving members of his gang the priority targets of the FBI. Nelson is responsible for the murder of several people, including most of the FBI agents. He was nicknamed “Baby Face” because of his youthful appearance and small stature.
Next, Tommy Johnson, the character played by Chris Thomas King, was actually a famous bluesman of the time. Born in 1896, Tommy Johnson has recorded very little. His first records, Canned Heat Blues and Big Road Blues do not work enough for it to break through in the middle. And Paramount, which was his label at the time, does not renew its contract with him. However, the artist had a deep influence on blues music. Many musicians were inspired by his guitar playing and his singing singing. In the 1960s, the group Canned Heat paid tribute to him.
So in O’Brother, Chris thomas king united the qualities of actor, musician and singer to interpret Tommy Johnson. Even if the Coen brothers take great liberties with his story, he is ultimately the same bluesman. A great opportunity for Chris Thomas King who loved playing Tommy Johnson:
There must have been some divine intervention or something! They had to have a lot of confidence in me to give me the part.