Safdie brothers and other filmmaking duos who split up

As Uncut Gems directors go their separate ways, The National looks at four other successful pairs who did the same

Benny, left, and Josh Safdie in California, 2019. Their Netflix film Uncut Gems received widespread praise from critics. Photo: FilmMagic
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The two brothers behind Uncut Gems and Good Time will not be directing a third film together.

Benny Safdie confirmed he and his brother Josh have had an “amicable” breakup and they're going their separate ways.

“I will direct on my own, and I will explore things that I want to explore. I want that freedom right now in my life,” Benny Safdie told Variety magazine.

The brothers were set to work on a follow-up to Uncut Gems with Adam Sandler. Following the split, it will be directed by Josh alone, while Benny is set to direct a film starring Dwayne Johnson.

Benny has taken more acting roles since Uncut Gems became a hit, appearing in Licorice Pizza, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, and last year's Oppenheimer, directed by Christopher Nolan.

It's not the first time a filmmaking duo, brothers or otherwise, have decided to go their separate ways.

Here are four others.

Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger

Best known for their lush Technicolor films, Powell and Pressburger became the most famous and beloved directing duo during the 1940s.

The two worked together on cinematic classics including Black Narcissus, The Red Shoes and A Matter of Life and Death.

By the mid-1950s, their work together slowed down and their films did not garner the same kind of adoration they once did. The production company they started together, The Archers, would cease to exist by 1957.

The pair made an amicable split but reunited for two films in 1966 and 1972.

The Coen brothers

American filmmaking brothers Joel and Ethan Coen burst onto the scene in 1984 with the gritty crime film Blood Simple. Since then, the two directed 18 films together, including beloved classics such as The Big Lebowski and Fargo.

The pair’s film No Country for Old Men was nominated for eight Academy Awards in 2008 and won four, including Best Picture and for directing.

After directing The Ballad of Buster Scruggs for Netflix in 2018, the duo would split to focus on solo projects.

Joel has since directed The Tragedy of Macbeth starring Denzel Washington in 2021, while Ethan’s first solo film, titled Drive-Away Dolls, is set for release next month.

Will Ferrell and Adam McKay

The comedy partnership of Will Ferrell and Adam McKay started with 2004’s Anchorman. They co-wrote the script, while Ferrell starred in the lead role and McKay directed.

The film became a hit and entered cult status among its ardent fans.

The two worked together on seven films, with Ferrell also being one of the producers on McKay’s film Vice about former US vice-president Dick Cheney.

The pair split after a casting disagreement. Ferrell wanted to star in the show, Winning Time, about the Los Angeles Lakers, of which he is a big fan. McKay, who was executive producer on the show, didn’t think Ferrell suited the role of Jerry Buss, the Lakers’ owner, and replaced him with John C Reilly.

Since then, the two have not been on speaking terms, breaking up their once-lucrative production company Gary Sanchez Productions.

Christopher and Jonathan Nolan

British director Christopher Nolan has become one of the industry's most famous names thanks to hits such as Inception and the Batman trilogy.

Since the director’s first film Memento in 2000, he’s collaborated on and off with his brother Jonathan on several films, including The Prestige and Interstellar.

After Interstellar, the two stopped collaborating, with Christopher working on three alone.

Jonathan has since been focusing on TV shows including Westworld and, most recently, Fallout, which is adapted from the video game series of the same name.

Updated: January 07, 2024, 3:06 AM