Cannes: Oscar Isaac Greeted as Rising Star at 'Inside Llweyn Davis' Presser

Oscar Isaac

The Coen brothers and Justin Timberlake deflect off-the-wall questions as the movie is unveiled.

Oscar Isaac's performance in Joel and Ethan Coen's Inside Llewyn Davis, which had its world premiere on Sunday night, was already sparking a warm reception from the members of the media who screened the film ahead of the Sunday afternoon press conference.

When Issac entered the room for the press conference, he was greeted with energetic whoops, hollers and a "bravo."

A melancholic comedy set New York City in the ‘60s, Davis stars Isaac as a struggling folk singer and boasts a cast that includes Justin Timberlake, Carey Mulligan and Garrett Hedlund and music by T-Bone Burnett.

At the press event, things took a turn for the serious when one German TV journalist prefaced a question about the film’s sense of humor by observing that laughs left his country “after the war and the Holocaust.”

The question of the Holocaust has become a hot potato at the Cannes Film Festival’s official press conferences ever since Lars Von Trier kicked off a firestorm of a controversy in 2011 by jokingly expressing sympathy for Hitler.

And so when the subject came up, no one really wanted to touch it.

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Leaning forward to his mike, Timberlake said wryly, "I smell a trap." He then sat back as uneasy laughter spread through the room.

"There's nothing like the Holocaust to put a stake in a certain kind of humor," Joel Coen said. "I really don't know how to answer that."

It’s never a good idea to "run off the smart people," Burnett observed, saying, “I have to say that that is a provocative and fascinating question and I want to investigate that, I am very interested in that question. I'm serious. Is that a thing that's happening in Germany? There's a re-examination of Jewish humor? God almighty what a beautiful thing."

Mostly, though, the questions centered more directly on the film at hand.

Casting the movie’s lead was a tough order, calling for a performer with both musical ability and acting chops, and Ethan Coen said he and his brother had been “screwed” until Isaac came along.

Isaac and Timberlake amused the crowd by discussing how they worked with cats – six cats were used to impersonate a central feline character.

"They had a large rider of requests, a specific type of cat food," Timberlake joked.