Although writer/director J.C. Chandor has spent a large portion of this year showing off his distinctive film All is Lost at a number of film festivals (generally to quite a bit of praise, particularly for lead – and indeed, only – actor Robert Redford), he’s also been hard at work developing his next picture. A Most Violent Year was first announced on the heels of the world premier of All is Lost at Cannes, but has since added multiple Academy Award-nominee Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty, The Help), and, as Chandor confirmed yesterday at the Gotham Awards, Inside Llewyn Davis star Oscar Isaac.
Although Isaac missed out on the Gotham Awards top individual honor (which went to Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyer’s Club), Inside Llewyn Davis did win in the Best Picture category. It certainly hasn’t hurt having a supporting cast that includes John Goodman, Justin Timberlake, and Carey Mulligan, not to mention multiple Academy Award-winning writers and directors in Joel and Ethan Coen, but much of the film’s success has been attributed to Isaac in his eponymous leading role. Although Isaac has had parts in some high profile pictures before – such as his role as Prince John in the Ridley Scott/Russell Crowe version of Robin Hood – Inside Llewyn Davis has been his first time leading such a production.
He was cast in part for his classical guitar training and singing voice. “Before we found Oscar,” Joel Coen was quoted as saying, “we were really screwed. We needed an actor who could bring in a strong emotional performance and who could also sing and play guitar.” It seems qualities outside his nonetheless considerable ability as an actor have contributed to this latest casting move as well. Isaac is a native of Guatemala who grew up in Miami, and A Most Violent Year will see him playing a Latin immigrant to the U.S. Little is known about the plot outside of the fact that Isaac’s character becomes a successful businessman, but the film draws its title from its setting, 1981, “which, statistically speaking, is one of the most violent years on record,” said Chandor in an interview.
Previously, Javier Bardem had been attached to the role Isaac now occupies, but left the production due to a disagreement with the direction Chandor was taking the script. A Most Violent Year is currently in pre-production and is expected to see release sometime in 2015.