Inside Llewelyn Davis star Oscar Isaac. Photo: Irene Cho
Remember the name Oscar Isaac. In a few months you’ll be hearing a lot about him.
Isaac, star of Ethan Coen and Joel Coen’s Inside Llewyn Davis, was born Oscar Isaac Hernandez Estrada in Guatemala. A graduate of Lincoln Center’s Juilliard School, the actor and musician was introduced to wider attention this week when the Coen’s new film debuted in competition here at the Cannes Film Festival. The star of the folk music film, Oscar Isaac is also at the center of the spotlight being cast on the movie this week.
Ethan Coen said the other day here in Cannes that, until they finally found Oscar Isaac, he and his brother Joel felt they were screwed. They wondered if they’d written, in the role of a young folk singer, a character that they couldn’t cast. Isaac, on the other hand, believed he was right for the part from the get-go, if only he could get their attention.
“As soon as I even heard they were doing [Inside Llewyn Davis], I knew that the last 33 years of my life had been in preparation for this project. I 100% believe that,” Isaac explained during a conversation with FilmLinc Daily in Cannes this week.
Oscar Isaac said he knew he should play Llewyn Davis because of “the role that music has played in my life on top of the fact that the Coen’s have been my favorite filmmakers since I was in high school. When I heard about this I knew that I needed to at least just get a shot at it.” Isaac sent the Coen’s a tape of his singing and, one month later, he was hired.
The Coen’s Inside Llewyn Davis is situated squarely in that moment when folk music was in a dramatic time of transition. Dylan emerged on the scene and catapulted folk music to wider awareness, Isaac explained. Similarly, his character was in a time of transition. Would Llewyn Davis achieve attention or give up his career and join the Merchant Marine?
“It’s about this edge of success and failure,” Isaac elaborated during our conversation. “There’s very few geniuses that come and revolutionize everything. For the rest of us that want to be artists and have something to say, it’s a lot of work and a lot of luck,” he continued. “Things just line up in a certain way and I think the Coen’s and [music producer] T-Bone [Burnett] and myself feel like things have lined up.”
Inside Llewyn Davis will be released in theaters in December.