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IndieWire.com — Oscar Isaac is perhaps one of the most exciting men in film right now. After showcasing both his singing and acting chops in Inside Llewyn Davis, he’s since landed roles in Mojave opposite Mark Wahlberg and Garrett Hedlund, Apocalypse in X-Men: Apocalypse and then of course that tiny movie no one is excited about: Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

But meanwhile Isaac has also been making quieter, if not more in-depth movies. J.C. Chandor’s (All is Lost) A Most Violent Year showcases Isaac in the title role, playing Abel, an ambitious businessman in 1981 New York City. Jessica Chastain, with whom Isaac attended Juilliard years back, plays his wife Anna, the daughter of a gangster and the Bonnie to Abel’s Clyde. Isaac plays Abel with a precision far different than messy Llewyn who loved cats and twiddled on his guitar. Abel is pristine, determined, and elusive in his motivations.

Press Play had a chance to sit down with Isaac in LA this week, just a few days after the Star Wars trailer set out to take down computer servers across the planet. But we were interested in getting into the details of Isaac’s incredibly crafted performance in A Most Violent Year. Sporting a mustache, with the charm of Llewyn and the introspection of Abel, Isaac chatted building character and the fine line between morality and pragmatism.

The last thing I saw you in was Inside Llewyn Davis, where you’re playing a character always asking other people for help. Abel is always fighting against that. Are you more like Abel or a bit of both characters? The thing with Llewyn was that he was not happy asking for help. But he’s in a What the hell else am I gonna do? Can I bum a cigarette? kind of situation. With Abel, yes, he’s going to do things on his own, but there’s that constant fear that all of ithis could fall apart at any moment as well. When you’re playing somebody, the guy’s a millionaire, clearly he’s affluent, he’s doing great, got a great little family, moving to a bigger house, it’s kind of hard to find a reason to root for the guy. J.C. said that often, with a lot of these dudes who end up growing so much, there’s at least two or three moments in their life when they just go all in. They risk everything. This movie starts with Abel being like, ‘We’re risking everything right now.’ That intensity, the pull between I’m risking everything, I could lose everything at any minute and at the same time the singularity of vision, I know what our goal is and I know how we can get there, being unflappable. Those two things happening at the same time.

Playing a character with that constant conflict must have required physical work. This man has this anxiety in his gut the entire time. His goal is not to show people that. How did you start building Abel? Did you manifest that anxiety and build on top of that? It was a very dense script. Obviously he’s very formal. He doesn’t use contractions. He speaks very formally. As an actor you have a choice, you’re like I want to make it more human and talk like I do. I chose to lean into the formality in a way almost like a memory of your grandfather. I would ask [J.C.] all these questions–“What’s he feeling here, what’s he going through?”–and he would say, “The hair’s going to be amazing.” And I’d be like, “What?” [Laughs] Then, “What’s going on inside…?” He’s like, “The suits, you got to take a look at the suits!” I would get so frustrated! I even wrote him, “I don’t care about suits. I don’t care about the hair! I need to know what’s going on inside!” And then at one point he said, “The suits are not about fashion, it’s a suit of armor.” Suddenly that hit me in a much different way. As an actor, that’s completely actable.

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BBC.com — The names of characters played by John Boyega, Oscar Isaac and Daisy Ridley in Star Wars: The Force Awakens have been revealed in a set of trading cards.

Director JJ Abrams confirmed the names via some old school trading cards, in a humorous nod to when the films were first released in the 1970s. Boyega’s card showed his character to be called Finn, with Ridley’s named Rey and Isaac’s known as Poe Dameron. The football-like droid, seen in the recent trailer, was revealed as BB:8.

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LATimes.com — Meting up after a triumphant opening-night premiere of “A Most Violent Year” at Los Angeles’ recent AFI Fest, actor Oscar Isaac and director J.C. Chandor didn’t look like the creative team behind one of the most complex, rewarding American films of the year. Rumpled, smiling and blinking in the light of the morning, they looked like two friends who’d gotten away with something. Isaac (“Inside Llewyn Davis”) was unshaven with a mustache for his upcoming part in “Show Me a Hero,” David Simon’s HBO project about Yonkers, N.Y. Chandor (“Margin Call,” “All Is Lost”) was wearing a green baseball cap emblazoned with the logo of the Standard heating-oil company that Isaac’s character, Abel Morales, runs with his wife, Anna (Jessica Chastain), resulting in a struggle that plays out against the chilly background of 1981 New York.

Your first film, “Margin Call,” was set almost entirely in an office building; “All Is Lost” took place on a boat. Was “A Most Violent Year” a deliberate attempt to work with a larger canvas?

Chandor: Kind of, yeah. In this day and age, filmmakers in my position, you don’t get to paint a big canvas like this, a period film. We had 75, 80 locations, something like that, in the movie. I had $18 million to make this movie, which is a lot of money for me. I think about the films I’m making in that way too. What is this? What are we making here? And how does that fit into what’s going to be able to be made? For me, at least, the movie was always about a transition in America. You look back at the recent history of New York City, ’81 is the low point, and the city has been on this climb, which now one might say has been too successful. It’s a little Disney-fied. But it was pretty bad in ’81.

Everyone compares the film to works by Sidney Lumet (“Prince of the City,” “Q & A”). Is that just because he made these urban, adult films?

Chandor: I’m sure Sidney’s in his grave smiling at us. Come on. I’m honored that it’s even being discussed in that light. What I’m trying to do is raise the common guy, who is doing extraordinary things in the most extraordinary time of this couple’s life, right? These 30 days [in which they have to raise money to expand], it’s a pretty fascinating story. I think you kind of make yourself in those normal moments, and also, these high-pressure moments. I hope we’re walking the line and reminding people that there can be real entertainment and experience there.

Your scenes with Jessica Chastain have this real Macbeth and Lady Macbeth feel. You want to succeed, but she knows what that’ll actually take.

Isaac: Yeah, it’s probably the best experience I’ve had working with somebody. We’ve known each other for a long time. We actually went to Juilliard together; we’ve been friends for that long. There is that element — this is a guy who had a reputation for doing things the right way, for being good, but he’s got that ambition and turns a blind eye to certain things. So, those scenes, there was such an immediate intimacy.

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Written and directed by Alex Garland, Ex_Machina stars Oscar Isaac as a reclusive robotics scientist working on the promise of an artificial intelligence that’s indistinguishable from a human being. In this exclusive clip he introduces his experiment to Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), a young and ambitious programmer.

Ex Machina, which also stars Alicia Vikander, is released in the UK on 23 January 2015 and in the US on 10 April 2015.

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AwardsDaily.com — There’s a lot of buzz on Oscar Isaac, he just won Best Actor, along with Michael Keaton (Birdman), he’s starring in the new Star Wars film, and he’s playing the wild Apocalypse in X-Men. Jazz Tangcay sat down with Isaac to talk about this exciting time for him and to discuss his latest film, A Most Violent Year. Directed by JC Chandor and starring Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year tells the tale of an immigrant family trying to make it in the oil industry during the worst year on record for crime in the history of New York. The brilliant Isaac centers the film with his studied performance, another versatile turn by Isaac.

Congratulations on the NBR Award.  Thank you.

What was it like seeing the reaction at the World Premiere for A Most Violent Year at AFI Fest?  That was my first time seeing it too. That was a pretty crazy experience because that was the first time I’d ever seen a movie that I’d been in with such a huge audience. It felt great, it felt that by the end, people were getting a sense of who these people really were. It was really rewarding, and it was great to see people laughing as much as they did.

Like the deer scene, people were clapping and I was like, “What!” (laughs). You and Jessica have such great chemistry, you went to Julliard together, tell us how you become friends? We saw each other in plays, and we just really appreciated each other’s work. We had mutual friends, we hung out and it was great. We kept in touch and we were looking for something to do together for a long time. She told me about it, then she told JC (Chandor) about it, and it happened. I couldn’t believe she had sent that email to JC, she just said that recently, and I didn’t evne know about it.I have to say it was one of the best experiences I’ve had of working with someone.

What was it like to work with JC Chandor? It was great. He’s intense, he talks a mile a minute and has a very expansive mind and covers so many topics. When it came to the shoot, he was just so focused, it’s like he harnesses all that energy and lasers it in . He gave me great notes and great direction. Like he was telling me so much about the suits, and I asked, “Why are you telling me so much about the suits?” and he said, “It’s not about fashion, they’re suits of armor.” It totally influenced the way I would move and walk around, and suddenly I felt. He was like a knight, going to war.

You once said, It was how important the right pair of desert boots were needed to getting into character for Inside Llewyn Davis, did you need a similar piece of clothing or item to get into character for Abel? Oh yes, not only the actual suits, but the camel coat, that coat is like his suit of armor.

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Slashfilm.com — Oscar Isaac is one of us, a geek through and through. But at this time last year, we had no idea. A year ago, Isaac was the star of a wonderful Coen Bros. movie, Inside Llewyn Davis, which was a big coming-out party for the actor. Before that he’d appeared mostly as stand out supporting character in Drive, Body of Lies, Robin Hood and others. Fast forward a year, and now we’ve not only seen him fly an X-Wing in the trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and he’s also been cast as the ultimate mutant baddie, Apocalypse, in X-Men: Apocalypse. Those are two of the biggest franchise movies Hollywood has happening.

Isaac was out promoting his latest film, A Most Violent Year, and was asked about both projects. Turns out, he’s been an Apocalypse fan for decades and he still can’t believe he got to fly an X-Wing. You can watch the Oscar Isaac Star Wars and X-Men videos below.

Both videos come from MTV. First up, here’s Isaac talking about his shot in the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer.

Continue Reading

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J.C. Chandor’s A Most Violent Year has a new UK trailer courtesy of Icon Film Distribution. Written and directed by Chandor, A Most Violent Year stars Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis) and Jessica Chastain (Interstellar).

Set in New York City during the winter of 1981, which was statistically the most dangerous year in the city’s history, the crime drama follows immigrant Abel Morales (Isaac) and his family as they attempt to expand their business, but the violence and corruption of the city threatens to destroy their American dream.

Joining Chastain and Isaac are Albert Brooks (Drive), David Oyelowo (The Butler), Alessandro Nivola (American Hustle), Cataline Sandino Moreno (Maria Full of Grace) and Elyes Gabel (Interstellar).

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