If Roger Dickens wins his third Oscar at the 95th Academy Awards tomorrow night, where he’s nominated for his work “Empire of Light” It would simply be the latest achievement in one of the most Incredible jobs in film history. Over the past 40 years, he’s earned 16 Academy Award nominations while working with many of Hollywood’s biggest directors, including frequent collaborations with the Coen Brothers, Sam Mendes, and Denis Villeneuve.
In a new interview with GQDickens looks back at his sprawling filmography while sharing behind-the-scenes stories from some of his most famous works. When Coen Brother Oscar-winning Cormac McCarthy’s “No Country for Old Men” came out, Deakins revealed that he had a bigger role in the film than he was given. In addition to serving as the Coens’ director of photography, he was also one of the reasons they decided to direct the film.
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Deakins explained that the Coens were only attached to the project as screenwriters at first, and were considering handing the film over to someone else. But after reading McCarthy’s novel, Dickens launched a full court press to make sure his old friends and collaborators channeled it.
We’re doing this scenario, Joel said, “No Country for Old Men.” I had just read the book, and I said, “Aren’t you going to direct?” And he said, “Well, maybe.” I said “I will never speak to you again if you don’t direct it.”
Deakins went into reminiscences about Joel and Ethan Coen’s obsessive preparation for the film, and relived his admiration for how clearly they were able to articulate their vision for the final film early in the process.
“The thing about Joel and Ethan is that they love getting into different kinds of worlds. They kind of navigate different genres in a very interesting way. But they’re very preppy, and they spend a lot of time talking about it, sketching, storyboarding, studying locations, “He said. One of the things Joel and Ethan said early on when we were shooting was ‘Just be aware, we’re not going to have any music on it. They knew from the start, before we started filming, that the only voice would be a natural voice.”
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