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The Coens, Justin Timberlake, Carey Mulligan & Oscar Isaac Give Seven Easy Steps to Get To Know ‘Llewyn Davis’

The Coens, Justin Timberlake, Carey Mulligan & Oscar Isaac Give Seven Easy Steps to Get To Know 'Llewyn Davis'

The Coen Bros’ re-visit of the early folk music era in New York’s
Greenwich Village was certainly not lost in translation here in Cannes
where it was received with almost universal affirmation earlier this
week. “Inside Llewyn Davis” may also mark a turning point for actor Oscar
Isaac, who’s presence is in virtually every frame of the film; he
even gets to show off his musical chops, while carrying the film about
an unheralded folk singing talent who attempts to succeed solo after the
suicide of his singing partner.

Isaac gets a bit of on-screen competition from a feline who may very
well upstage the winner of the unofficial Palme Dog prize, which is
annually awarded by international film critics (the cat deserves it this
year, even if its woof is in the form of a meow!).

Also starring Carey Mulligan, John Goodman and Justin Timberlake, the
film “doesn’t really have a plot,” said Joel Coen at a post-screening
press conference. “That actually concerned us at one point, which is why
we threw in the cat.” Brother Ethan Coen admitted that the filmmaking
duo were “pretty screwed” until they found Isaac who has been acting and
performing for years, though his professional turn has only somewhat
recently been recognized.

“Inside Llewyn Davis” arrived in Cannes with a mixture of anticipation,
though that’s to be expected from a Coen Bros. film, but also
speculation of whether it would be up to snuff. But if its Cannes
showing is any indication, the film should be an indie hit and an Isaac career-boost. The actor as well as the Coens, Carey Mulligan
and Justin Timberlake took part in a lunch-time chat with a small group
of journalists at the stately Carlton Hotel (when
it’s not splashed with cheesy movie ads). Here are ten
memorable quotes from the conversation:

1. Fate vs. luck is a running theme: “The fate
aspect is who you are,” said Joel Coen. “The other aspect of it is
characterized by luck. Good luck and bad luck factor into success and

2. Filmmaking is easy — if you happen to be a Coen: “We don’t have
anything to compare it to. Is the job easy or hard? Sometimes it’s
ridiculously easy and people want to maintain a mystique about it.”
Added Joel jokingly, “Don’t want to let too many people to try it.
But with the character in this movie, it was a bit hard.”

3. Oscar Isaac unknowingly spent 33 years prepping for Llewyn Davis: “I
started writing music at about 13 years old playing and borrowing my
dad’s video camera. So in a funny way, it’s been about 33 years of
training for this. I heard about it right about the right time. I was
finally at the point that I had been doing some movies for awhile, so I
figured that if I at least wanted to get the audition, I could get that
far. “

4. Carey Mulligan blocked out her second time on
set with Oscar Isaac
: “When we started working together on this I didn’t
think about the fact we had done a movie together already (“Drive”). He
was so into that character. Though he had a comfort level there from his
previous experience acting.”

5. And playing American in her roles of late: “The
Coen Bros. write so brilliantly and I like having reems of dialog even
though half of that is profanity. It’s great to be able to speak that
much. The last couple of years I’ve simply been looking for great parts
and I haven’t been conscious at the time of whether they were British or
American though most have turned out to be American.” But she’s headed back to being a Brit soon: “In September I’ll be
doing something a bit closer to my accent…so I’m excited I get to be

6. Justin Timberlake is bringing sexy back: “I don’t find Jim nerdy. I find Jim
sexy.  I enjoy humorous roles and I think that’s what Joel and Ethan
thought of with this guy and I’m just happy that they thought of me.” JT would do “anything” to be a part of a Coens film: “If I love the
movie and I see a way in then I’m all about it. Joel Coen called me and
said, ‘This is a funny part and I think this would be good for you.’ I
said, “I’d run Craft Services for you.” I feel very lucky to have played
the characters I’ve played. Probably the most openly nerdy I’ve played
is the substitute in ‘Bad Teacher.'”

7. Cannes is good for the Coens: “The first movie we had was a Midnight
screening, ‘Raising Arizona,'” recalled Joel. “It’s one of the weird things that makes you
feel very old. I was saying to Ethan, ‘wow, we’ve been here a lot‘…There’s something about the fact our movies have been very welcome here
which is undeniably great of course. One of the lucky things about our
career is to have that and we’re always happy to come back here. It’s
been woven into the [evolution] of our whole career.”

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