25 Best Coen Brother Characters

From Barton Fink to the Dude, counting down Joel and Ethan's craziest, most unforgettable creations

Load Previous
Ed McDonagh ('Raising Arizona')
20th Century Fox Film/Everett16/25

16. Ed McDonagh ('Raising Arizona')

Coens obsessives know that Holly Hunter was actually the brothers' first choice to play Blood Simple's Abby, a role that eventually went to Joel's future wife Frances McDormand. Instead, her movie career was launched with the Coens' follow-up film, in which she plays a no-nonsense cop who falls for a goofy con (Nicolas Cage) and kidnaps a local newborn since she can't have kids of her own. Raising Arizona is rightly proclaimed as one of the great screwball comedies of the 1980s, but the film's immense bounty of laughs wouldn’t mean much without some heart underneath, which is where Hunter came in. Her Ed is part Lady Macbeth, part moral compass, part quietly fuming voice of reason — she's the straight woman amidst this collection of bozos and reprobates. But the actress also provided the character with a flinty sex appeal that was both vulnerable and alluring. She's the kind of woman you'd want to grow old with in Arizona … or maybe Utah. TG

Back to Top