Category: Interviews

J.C. Chandor, Oscar Isaac fill a big canvas with ‘A Most Violent Year’ — 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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Interview : Oscar Isaac — 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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Watch Oscar Isaac Geek Out About Being in ‘Star Wars’ and ‘X-Men’

Watch Oscar Isaac Geek Out About Being in ‘Star Wars’ and ‘X-Men’ — 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.

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Film Independent special screening and Q & A of “A Most Violent Year”

Film Independent special screening and Q & A of “A Most Violent Year”

Oscar Isaac took part in the Film Independent special screening and Q & A of “A Most Violent Year” on December 4th, 2014. 35 photos have been added to our photo library.

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Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac Talk ‘A Most Violent Year,’ Bad Auditions at SAG Screening — On Monday, Nov. 17, the filmmaker and stars of “A Most Violent Year” spoke to a SAG audience following a screening of the film. Moderated by Variety’s Jenelle Riley, the conversation was filmed by SAG Foundation, the non-profit arm of SAG and marked the first time actors Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac spoke together at length about the film. They were joined by writer-director J.C. Chandor.

“A Most Violent Year” tells the story of Abel Morales (Isaac), an immigrant in 1981 struggling to grow his business while being investigated by the FBI and dealing with corrupt competitors. Chastain plays his tough-as-nails wife, who happens to have a mob connection.

Chastain not only stars in the film, she was instrumental in getting Chandor to cast Isaac, who she attended the Juilliard School with. “There was another actor attached for awhile,” said Chastain, “But the right actor came on board.” Added Chandor, “Jessica started whispering about this guy to me and it was sort of meant to be. She was sort of acting as an agent.” To which Chastain quipped, “Where’s my 10 percent?”

Chastain also revealed that she sent a long email to Chandor endorsing Isaac–something that Isaac was not aware of until this Q&A.

In addition to talking about preparing for the film, the actors revealed their worst audition stories, both of which involved prominent actors who were not named.  “A Most Violent Year” hits theaters Dec. 31, 2014.

Jessica Chastain & Oscar Isaac – New Featurette For ‘A Most Violent Year’ — Before it lands in theaters, a new featurette from the movie has arrived. “It’s the Wild West in New York City at this moment,” Isaac says, describing the backdrop of the movie he stars in. “There’s a violence around and the general thought is when someone has a gun, you get a gun too to defend yourself.”

A new poster has arrived as well and it quotes The Playlist review from writer James Rocchi. “What good is the American dream if you can’t sleep at night because of the things you did to achieve it?,” he asked rhetorically in his A-grade review. Check out the new poster and feature clip. “A Most Violent Year” opens on December 31st in limited release.

Variety Studio Actors On Actors Presented By Samsung Galaxy

Variety Studio Actors On Actors Presented By Samsung Galaxy

Oscar Isaac and Gugu Mbatha-Raw attend day one Variety Studio: Actors On Actors presented by Samsung Galaxy on November 8, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. The video will stream on beginning November 18, so be sure to check here for Oscar’s interview! 9 photos have been added to our photo gallery.

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