A Minute With: Carey Mulligan on singing, playing literary heroines

Wed Dec 18, 2013 5:10pm EST
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actress Carey Mulligan has taken on a wildly diverse range of film roles, from a naive schoolgirl in "An Education" to a struggling single mother in "Drive" to the coquettish Daisy Buchanan in this year's "The Great Gatsby."

The 28-year-old London native was thrust into the spotlight with her breakout role as a smart but innocent schoolgirl in the coming-of-age drama "An Education," earning her a best actress Oscar nomination in 2010.

Since then, she has become one of Hollywood's most sought-after young actresses, most recently picked by directors Joel and Ethan Coen for their latest film on the 1960s folk scene "Inside Llewyn Davis," in which Mulligan plays the supporting role of Jean alongside lead star Oscar Isaac.

Mulligan sat down with Reuters to discuss singing with Justin Timberlake, playing literature's leading ladies and her most challenging role yet.

Q: What drew you to the role of the feisty Jean?

A: The reason the Coen brothers asked me to audition for it is that they had not seen me play a part like that before, and I had not gotten the opportunity to play a part like that. She was just so incensed and furious and behind that, you could see the intimate relationship between (Jean and Llewyn), she was just brilliantly written.

Q: You sing alongside Justin Timberlake in the film. How was that experience?

A: It was nerve-racking at first. We had a week of singing rehearsals where we all played music together, and that's when I first sat down with Justin and T Bone Burnett, he orchestrated the whole thing. But they were so lovely. Justin was so encouraging to a non-singer and he made me feel really great. We just got really into it as our little trio, our tribute to Peter, Paul & Mary, that I forgot about all the nerves by the time we were doing it.   Continued...

Cast member Carey Mulligan poses during a photocall for the film 'Inside Llewyn Davis' at the 66th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes May 19, 2013. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard