|First appearance||No Country For Old Men|
|Created by||Cormac McCarthy|
|Portrayed by||Javier Bardem|
The character received much praise during the film's theatrical run, where Javier Bardem was awarded an Oscar, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA for his performance. Chigurh has been included on numerous lists of greatest villains, most notably in Empire Magazine's List of The 100 Greatest Movie Characters Of All Time.
Chigurh is a hitman with no remorse or compassion. He is described by a central character in the novel as a "psychopathic killer," in his 30s, with a dark complexion, and eyes as "blue as lapis ... Like wet stones." His signature weapon is a captive bolt pistol, which he uses both to kill his victims and to destroy cylinder locks on doors. He also wields a sound-suppressed Remington 11-87 semiautomatic shotgun and pistol (a TEC-9 in the film adaptation). Throughout both the novel and the film, Chigurh flips a coin to decide the fate of his victims. The Remington 11-87 was actually released seven years after the original setting of the book but it had still made an appearance as one of the most memorable weapons in the movie.
The character is a recurrence of the "Unstoppable Evil" archetype frequently found in the Coen brothers' work, though the brothers wanted to avoid one-dimensionality, particularly a comparison to The Terminator. To avoid a sense of identification, the Coens sought to cast someone "who could have come from Mars". The brothers introduced the character in the beginning of the film in a manner similar to the opening of the 1976 film The Man Who Fell to Earth. Chigurh has been perceived as a "modern equivalent of Death from Ingmar Bergman's 1957 film The Seventh Seal."
When Joel and Ethan Coen approached Javier Bardem about playing Chigurh, he replied "I don't drive. I speak bad English. And I hate violence." The Coens responded "That's why we called you". Bardem said he took the role because it was his dream to be in a Coen Brothers film.
The Coen brothers got the idea for Chigurh's hairstyle from a book Tommy Lee Jones had. It featured a 1979 photo of a man sitting in the bar of a brothel with a very similar hairstyle and clothes to those worn by Chigurh in the film. Oscar-winning hairstylist Paul LeBlanc designed the hairdo. The Coens instructed LeBlanc to create a "strange and unsettling" hairstyle. LeBlanc based the style on the mop tops of the English warriors in the Crusades as well as the Mod haircuts of the 1960s. Bardem told LeBlanc each morning when he finished that the style helped him to get into character. Bardem humorously quipped that he was "not going to get laid for three months" because of his haircut.
His background and nationality are left undisclosed and largely open to speculation, although it is established that he speaks with a foreign accent, his first name Anton is clearly Christian European (possibly Eastern) and his surname conjures up similarities to Indian toponyms and common words such as the city of Chandigarh or the word "gurh", which denotes a town in Madhya Pradesh as well as a well-known food product and the translation for "subtle" in different South Asian languages. Another possibility is that it is a corruption of a name from Albanian or another Balkan ethnicity, like the Roma, or of a North African or Middle Eastern Christian name. When writer Cormac McCarthy visited the set, the actors inquired about Chigurh's background and the symbolic significance of his name. McCarthy simply replied "I just thought it was a cool name."
Role in the plot
In 1980, Chigurh is hired to retrieve a satchel holding US$2.4 million from the scene of a drug deal gone wrong. However, he discovers that a local welder named Llewelyn Moss, who chanced upon the money while hunting, has taken it and left town. Chigurh tracks Moss down to a motel using a receiver that connects to a transponder hidden in the satchel of money. However, Moss has hidden the money in a ventilation duct, and when he returns to the motel, suspecting (correctly) that someone is in his room, he retrieves the money from the connected vent in a second rented room on the backside of the motel. His original room is in fact being occupied by a group of Mexican gangsters sent to ambush him. When Chigurh enters this room, he kills the Mexicans and searches for the money, but it is nowhere to be found. Moss, meanwhile, has already fled after hearing the subsequent gunfire.
Chigurh then ruthlessly tracks Moss down. The hotel confrontation between Moss and Chigurh plays out very differently in the film from the novel; rather than punching out the lock and wounding Moss, in the novel Chigurh apparently steals a key from a murdered clerk and quietly enters Moss's room, and Moss ambushes him and takes him captive at gunpoint, so they have a chance to see and know each other. Then Moss runs and the chase/shootout begins. As Chigurh and Moss face off in the hotel and the streets, they are interrupted by a group of Mexicans, all of whom Chigurh kills. However, this scene was cut and decreased to the point that only Moss and Chigurh fight.
Chigurh finds out that a bounty hunter named Carson Wells has, like Chigurh, been hired to retrieve the money. Chigurh kills Wells, who made a deal with Moss to give protection in exchange for the money. He then intercepts a phone call to Wells from Moss, and offers to spare Moss's wife if he agrees to give up the money. Moss refuses, however, and vows to track down and kill Chigurh. Moss is eventually killed by Mexican hitmen while in a motel in El Paso. Once again Moss hid the money in the vents, which was unseen by the Mexicans at the time of their ambush. Chigurh shows up later after the police have left, retrieves the money from the vent, and gives it back to the investor.
Near the end of the book, Moss's widow returns home to find Chigurh inside, waiting for her. After hearing her pleas for mercy, he partially relents by relying on his coin toss. In the book, she calls heads; it comes up tails, and he shoots and kills her. In the film adaptation, she refuses to call the toss, saying "The coin don't have no say. It's just you." The movie then cuts to a shot of Chigurh leaving the house, checking the soles of his boots, implying that he has killed her. While driving away from her house some three blocks away, Chigurh is badly injured in a car accident, sustaining a compound fracture of his left ulna and walking away with a limp. At the collision scene, before the authorities arrive, he offers $100 to a teenager on a bicycle to give him his shirt, seeking to use it to bind up his wounds himself. Chigurh then flees the scene before the ambulance arrives.
Chigurh kills without compassion or remorse, but always with deliberation. He is described as having his own set of morals, however twisted they may be. While he does not kill at random or without purpose, his reasons are at times abstract. He sees himself as a hand of fate; an instrument who exacts what is supposed to happen upon those he sees accountable. He gives many of his victims he faces a chance to survive by making deals either personally, or by flipping coins in making decisions. In the novel, he is depicted as having a great deal of endurance, such as being capable of withstanding pain from multiple shotgun blasts or from a fractured arm.
Anton Chigurh kills or tries to kill almost every person he meets and speaks to during the film. The only people he spares are the accountant (who deflects his attention by declaring his status as a "nobody" such that Chigurh gives him an obvious question to answer rather than a coin toss), the gas station proprietor (who guesses right during Chigurh's coin-flipping), the woman at the trailer park office (who dispenses with Chigurh by standing up to him with legitimate grounds), the woman at the motel front desk, and two children at the end.
UGO.com ranked him in its list of top 11 "silver screen psychos", saying that "Chigurh is an assassin of little words and interesting choices of weaponry - is a man without a sense of humor. Others might say he's got a warped sense of principles. One thing that most can agree on, is Chigurh is one crazy S.O.B. - ruthlessly killing damn near anyone who sets eyes on him, let alone those who get in his way. And apparently, the only way you can survive a run in with the man is the 50-50 chance of a coin toss, but dear god, don't question his motives, it just seems to irritate him even moreso."
Empire.com ranked him #46 in their list of the 100 Greatest Movie Characters Of All Time, praising the look on his face when he strangles a cop with his own handcuffs and that "when American novelist Cormac McCarthy wants to throw a dark character at you, it's a safe assumption that you're not going to be able to get them out of your head for a good, long while - if ever. One of his best is Chigurh, and between the Coens and Bardem, they never missed a beat in bringing this monster to the screen. With the kind of unholy relentlessness usually reserved for horror icons, the hired killer has an almost supernatural ability to track his prey, and is rather short in the mercy department, preferring to leave the tough decisions to a coin toss. And that bowl cut is utterly terrifying."
Being well received after the theatrical run of No Country For Old Men, Chigurh has been parodied in other media, mainly as a spoof of the film's most memorable scenes. Ike Barinholtz plays Anton Chigurh in the spoof movie Disaster Movie, while Carlos Areces plays Anton Chigurh in the spoof movie Spanish Movie.
A parody titled There Will Be Milkshakes for Old Men was featured in Episode 5 of Season 33 of NBC’s Saturday Night Live, which aired on February 23, 2008. Fred Armisen makes an appearance as Anton Chigurh, complete with captive bolt pistol and pageboy haircut, mimicking his famous gas stop scene. In addition, Bill Hader did an impression of Daniel Plainview, Daniel Day-Lewis's character from the film There Will Be Blood, and emphasized the line "I drink your milkshake" as the basis for a Food Network show that finds Plainview traveling the country in search of the perfect milkshake. The same Saturday Night Live episode also featured a parody of No Country for Old Men titled Grandkids in the Movies.
- DuBos, David. "MovieTalk with David DuBos". New Orleans Magazine. Archived from the original on February 7, 2008. Retrieved March 13, 2008.
- "Chigurh Trivia". Anton Chigurh.com. 2012-03-24. Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- "Chigurh Bio". Imdb. 2012-03-24. Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- "UGO.com 11 Silver Screen Psychos". UGO.com. 2012-03-24. Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- "Empire 100 Greatest Movie Characters". Empire.com. 2012-03-24. Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- "There Will Be Milkshakes for Old Men". NBC.com. Retrieved May 12, 2012.
- "Saturday Night Live Drinks Your Milkshake". BuzzSugar.com. March 26, 2008.
- "Saturday Night Live – SNL Digital Short: Grandkids in the Movies". Bing.com/videos. Retrieved May 12, 2012.
- Doom, Ryan P. (2009). "The unrelenting country: No Country for Old Men (2007)". The Brothers Coen: Unique Characters of Violence. Praeger. pp. 149–162. ISBN 0-313-35599-1.