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The Coen brothers were the most-talked-about people on the red carpet at Saturday night’s New York Film Festival premiere of their latest movie, Inside Llewyn Davis, even though the mercurial filmmakers chose not to speak to the press.
“I just jumped at the chance to work with the Coens,” cast member Garrett Hedlund told The Hollywood Reporter. “It was a phenomenal script as well, and when you see it’s a Coen brothers film, you know it’s going to be something special to say the least, the very least, the very, very much least. And when they said it’s going to be this odd guy that’s driving John Goodman around and being his valet, I [laughed] and I thought, ‘Where can I sign up?’ ”
Max Casella, who plays club owner Pappi Corsicato, added: “I get the audition for a Coen brothers movie, and I’m thrilled, and I get the pages and I’m doubly thrilled because the writing is so fun and and funny…they write so musically. Their dialogue has such great music to it.”
The filmmakers even used legendary producer T Bone Burnett and Mumford & Sons frontman Marcus Mumford to select the music for the film about the early 1960s Greenwich Village folk scene and its accompanying soundtrack.
Mumford said it was the chance to work with another icon in Burnett that drew him to the project.
“I met T Bone Burnett at the Grammys a few years ago and we sort of told each other that we’d let each other know if there was stuff we wanted to do together and this was one of them,” he said. “We called each other up and sat down and had breakfast together in Los Angeles. I said, ‘I’ll make your tea, I’ll do whatever you want, just let me be a fly on the wall because I just want to learn,’ and he got me a bit more involved than that, so it was fun.”
In terms of choosing the music for the film, Mumford said he appreciated how the Coens and Burnett stayed away from obvious choices.
“Bob Dylan‘s kind of like a shadow in the back of the movie the whole way through, and I think it’s cool that they were pretty creative with their song choices and especially going down the Dave Van Ronk route and staying away from the really obvious ones,” Mumford told THR. “There’s no specific Joan Baez moment, but she’s there too, in the background. So they were pretty inventive with it and they made it so you don’t get distracted by those big names that you know already.”
Burnett talked more about his philosophy behind the music for the film and the soundtrack. “What the film exactly is about is we’re at an interregnum in which the old is dying but isn’t dead yet and the new is coming but hasn’t been born yet,” he said. “It was about what are the songs, what is the music, what is the tone of the music that tells that story that talks about the real-life plight of a real musician now. In this case, 1961 and now, to me, because it’s a very similar time.”
Isaac, who plays the titular protagonist and performs in the film and on the soundtrack, admits he was intimidated working with Burnett and Mumford, but he was calmed by the fact that the two had already heard him sing in his audition and signed off on him for the part.
“They believed in me and they’d already heard me sing, so I knew I couldn’t f— it up too much,” he said.
As for Mumford’s wife, Carey Mulligan, who plays Davis’ love interest Jean in the film, she said she didn’t rely on her real-life experience being married to a folk musician.
“That probably makes me a bad actress, but no I didn’t,” she said. “I wish I’d come away with a vast knowledge of 1960s folk music, but I think I was more drawn to the personal story between Jean and Oscar’s character.”
Mulligan recently passed on the chance to play Hillary Clinton in an upcoming biopic, telling THR Saturday that the project, “just wasn’t the right fit for me at the time.”
Meanwhile, Alex Karpovsky, who has a small part in Inside Llewyn Davis, gave THR a preview of the upcoming season of Girls, saying, “I think it’s going to be a wacky, fun season full of tears, basketball, bloodshed and copious amounts of sexuality.”
And Hedlund, who’s set to star in the TRON: Legacy sequel, said of that film: “Disney’s really trying to find a really great story. They have writers on that have been working all year trying to find a great story. Something to pre-vamp or re-vamp where they left off and something that’s solid. I’m excited to see what is. I know everybody else is.”
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