Miami’s Own Oscar Isaac Stars in ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’

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Oscar Isaac in Joel and Ethan Coen’s INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS Photo: Alison Rosa ©2012 Long Strange Trip LLC
The early buzz has been tremendous for MIFF’s Miami Film Society December 18 special event screening of Inside Llewyn Davis, the Coen Brothers’ upcoming musical masterpiece which breathes renewed and important life into the early ‘60s folk scene in Greenwich Village, New York—one of the most misunderstood, yet hugely significant, post-war cultural movements. 

Written and directed by Joel & Ethan Cohen, Inside Llewyn Davis stars Oscar Isaac, son of a Guatemalan mother and Cuban father.  Born in Guatemala and raised in Miami, Isaac forged his acting career in Miami theater; first in a Coconut Grove Playhouse educational show, then in Arrivals and Departures at the old Area Stage on Miami Beach. He received glowing reviews for his performances in This is Our Youth and Warren Leight’s Side Man for Joseph Adler at GableStage in 2000.  On his days off, Isaac performed all over South Florida with his ska/punk band, “The Blinking Underdogs”. 

Oscar Isaac on stage in South Florida with his band “The Blinking Underdogs”, Oscar Isaac on the cover of The Miami Herald’s December 1, 2006 WEEKEND section

A Miami Dade College alum, Isaac then went on to graduate from Juilliard, where he was part of the Drama Division’s Group 34 (2001–2005), where he played the title role in Macbeth; he also co-wrote and performed in the show American Occupation, and was seen in The Marriage of Figaro, The Birds, and Three Sisters. He has been steadily building a name for himself in film; initially capturing audiences with his performance as Joseph in the Christmas drama The Nativity Story (2006)—the first feature film to premiere at the Vatican.  In 2009, Isaac starred opposite Rachel Weisz in Alejandro Amenabar’s Agora, a tale of unrequited love set against the backdrop of ancient Egypt which became Spain’s highest-grossing film that year, and which went on to win seven Goya Awards.

Isaac most recently appeared in The Bourne Legacy, the fourth installment of the Bourne franchise, directed by Tony Gilroy. Isaac also recently starred in W.E., directed by Madonna, Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive (opposite Carey Mulligan, his Inside Llewyn Davis co-star), and as King John in Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood.

Oscar Isaac and Abbie Cornish in Madonna’s film W.E., Oscar Isaac in Drive

Other films include Zak Snyder’s Sucker Punch; José Ramos-Horta’s Balibo, for which Isaac received an AFI Award for Best Supporting Actor; Ridley Scott’s Body of Lies; Daniel Barnz’s Won’t Back Down; Steven Soderbergh’s Che; and Vadim Perelman’s The Life Before Her Eyes.

Having landed the coveted starring role in the Coens’ Inside Llewyn Davis, the film has given Isaac the opportunity to step into the lead and show off his guitar skills with his character loosely based on real folk musician Dave Van Ronk. “It was complete bliss,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “I play a guy that’s down on his luck, but it was very hard to feel that way because I just always had a smile from ear to ear. I was elated just to be there. I’ve been playing for 20 years, so it was kind of the perfect storm of things that came together for me to be a part of it. We did all the music live, no playback; it’s like a concert movie.”  —Tatyana Chiocchetti

Golden Globe nominee for Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy: Inside Llewyn Davis
Golden Globe nominee for Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy: Oscar Isaac

Jaie Laplante

Jaie Laplante is the Miami Film Festival's executive director and director of programming. Learn more about Jaie on Programmers.