Tim Blake Nelson Tried to Turn Down 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?'

O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) - Photofest-H 2019
Buena Vista Pictures/Photofest
John Turturro (as Pete), George Clooney (as Everett), Chris Thomas King (as Tommy Johnson), and Tim Blake Nelson (as Delmar).

The actor also marveled that he has a Grammy thanks to the film winning album of the year in 2001.

Tim Blake Nelson was offered the role of a lifetime when Joel Coen approached him to co-star in O Brother, Where Art Thou? — and it almost didn't happen because he tried to dissuade the casting.

Talking about the 2000 classic with GQ for a video posted Friday about the highlights of his career, the actor, currently starring in HBO's Watchmen, said he believed initially he was all wrong to play small-time cook and bumpkin Delmar O'Donnell opposite George Clooney and John Turturro. 

"That's the movie I got that changed everything," Nelson begins. "Joel sent me the script and said, 'Can you read this, I need some advice.' I thought, 'Oh, he wants to talk about the adaptation of The Odyssey because I studied classics in college.' And then he offered me Delmar." 

Nelson admitted that he was shocked and that taking the role did not feel right — at least not at first — and he tried to talk the Oscar-winning filmmaker out of the choice. 

"I was so astounded that I told him no, initially," Nelson said. "I said, 'Let me spend a night thinking about it because what I don't want to do is come down to a set with you and Ethan — who had become friends of mine at the time — and not show up with the goods. You've offered me this part without even hearing me read it. Let me at least assure myself that I have some purchase on this role.' And he said, 'You can try to persuade me otherwise, but we think that you're the right person for the role'."

Nelson continued, "But I spent the evening with it and I decided, 'All right, I have a way in here.' I don't know if he even believes there was a possibility I could have said no, but there really was because I didn't want to go and be on someone's set and have them regret having offered me a part." 

The actor also marveled at the fact that he has a Grammy thanks to the film, since he sang one of the songs and the soundtrack won album of the year in 2001. 

He quipped, "I like to think of it as one of the most undeserved — you know, there is no reason I should have a Grammy."

Watch Nelson's career breakdown with GQ below.