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Writer-director Chandor, who is in the Oscar hunt with his film All Is Lost, revealed at last night’s Gotham Awards that the Inside Llewyn Davis star will replace Javier Bardem in the period drama that already has two-time Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain onboard as the female lead.
Chandor was spied at the Gotham Awards chatting intensely with Isaac as he had been previously at the Cannes Film Festival, the Telluride Film Festival, the Academy’s Governors Awards and elsewhere. When asked whether the two planned to work together in the future, Chandor confirmed the move and added that the film will begin shooting in New York at the end of January with Participant Media close to a deal to finance.
It was reported back in June that Bardem had been cast in the role, but before a financier was in place or shooting could get underway in the early fall, as had been planned, Bardem dropped out over disagreements about the direction of the script.
“It was very sad, after eight months of working on the script with Bardem, for that to fall apart,” Chandor told THR. “We just never could get there.” But, he added, “As I was having these problems with Bardem, the answer was right in front of my eyes.”
Chandor and Isaac have been on the awards circuit together since May, share a mutual admiration for each other’s work and hit it off.
“It’s really neat because Jessica was pushing Oscar because they were classmates at Juilliard,” Chandor added. “And he literally is this character,” the filmmaker said of the actor, who was born in Guatemala to a Guatemalan mother and Cuban father who immigrated to America and raised him in Miami. In the film, Isaac will be playing a Hispanic man who immigrates to America and winds up a very successful businessman. What does the film’s title mean? “The film is set in 1981, which, statistically speaking, is one of the most violent years on record,” Chandor explained.
Isaac, who is earning raves for his performance in the Coen brothers-helmed Inside Llewyn Davis, has seen his stock rise in recent months, fielding a flurry of plum offers. He recently turned down the role of Ramses in Ridley Scott‘s Exodus.
Neal Dodson and Anna Gerb are producing A Most Violent Year, which is based on an original screenplay by Chandor.
Isaac is repped by UTA, Inspire Entertainment’s Jason Spire and attorney Mitch Smelkinson.
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