Offbeat moviemaking brothers Joel and Ethan Coen say they were just as surprised as anybody to see 1996's Fargo become one of their biggest hits.

"We thought nobody would go see that movie and we made it pretty cheaply so that nobody would get too terribly hurt when no one showed up," Ethan (pictured, right) tells TV Guide Online. "In fact, it ended up earning more than any of our other movies, or about the same as Raising Arizona."

The eclectic filmmakers have just begun production on their latest pic, a film noirish tale set in 1930s Northern California that stars Billy Bob Thornton as a barber who wants to get into the dry-cleaning business. Joel's real-life wife, Fargo's Oscar-winning Best Actress Frances McDormand, also stars.

Ethan says the new movie will be somewhat reminiscent of their first movie, Blood Simple, which is currently enjoying a limited rerelease in theaters. The brothers say they couldn't predict the success of Blood Simple and still are never quite sure how their work will be received.

"When we say we're going to make a movie about a barber in Northern California in the late '30s and shoot it in black and white, we know that it's not going to be Men in Black," says Ethan. "But on the other hand it'll be nice if it surprised everyone and made 40, 50 million dollars. That would be great."