The Coens Sign Carey Mulligan for ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’

A week ago, when I reported on Joel and Ethan Coen’s new movie Inside Llewyn Davis picking up Oscar Isaac as its leading man, I opined that further casting news would probably be coming soon. The Coens’ new film is about a folk singer coming up in the Greenwich Village scene, and it’s loosely based off the life of Dave Van Rank, so it’s going to be necessary for the brotherly team to cast actors as stand-in characters for all of Van Rank’s musician friends. Well, a week later the brothers have signed up their first, and this one is a doozy.

According to Variety, Carey Mulligan has signed on to play the female lead opposite Isaac. Despite my conclusion-jumping that most of the characters in this film will be musicians of some sort, there isn’t actually any confirmation that the character Mulligan will be playing will be musically inclined at all. Variety is correct to point out that the actress has the chops to pull some musical numbers off if she has to, however. She plays a singer in director Steve McQueen’s upcoming sex addiction drama Shame and really knocks her singing scene out of the park in that film. It’s maybe the most crucial scene of the film, and Mulligan rises to the occasion admirably.

With their huge stable of weird-looking character actors, Coen brothers’ movies can sometimes feel like a bit of a boys club, but I always like it when they get a really strong actress to play around with. Whether it’s Holly Hunter in Raising Arizona, Frances McDormand in a bunch of things, or Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit, the Coens have a proven track record of giving actresses much more interesting characters to play than just the wife or the girlfriend.

I hope that this role will prove to be more of the same for Mulligan, because she’s probably my favorite young actress working today, and the Coens may just be my favorite filmmakers of all time. This pairing is good news, all around.

Weaned on the genre films of the 80s. Reared by the independent movement of the 90s. Earned a BA for writing stuff in the 00s. Reviews current releases at

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