Justin Timberlake finds harmony in 'Llewyn Davis'

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by Associated Press

Associated Press

Posted on December 20, 2013 at 3:06 PM

Updated Friday, Dec 20 at 3:06 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — Justin Timberlake, so often shuttling between movies and music, for once didn't have to choose.

In the Coen brothers' "Inside Llewyn Davis" Timberlake plays a supporting role as a cheery, sweater-wearing 1960s folk musician. But he also collaborated with producer T Bone Burnett on the movie's memorable period songs and helped shape the film's most unforgettable and comic tune, "Please Mr. Kennedy."

"It's the first time that I've gotten to kind of do a lot of things that I love to do at the same time," Timberlake said in a recent interview by phone from the road, where he's on tour. "It will always be a milestone for me to get to write, sing, act and bring it all together."

For the multi-hyphenate Timberlake (Burnett calls him "a quadruple threat"), the film was a rare chance to combine his talents: a Coen brothers playground staked out between worlds Timberlake usually navigates separately. Often, fans and media seem to want him to pick a side: musician or actor.

"I don't even know what I am, man," he chuckles.

The various Timberlakes are uniquely on display at the moment. "Inside Llewyn Davis" opens nationally Friday. He's in the midst of touring "The 20/20 Experience," his Grammy-nominated return to music. And this weekend, he's the musical guest on "Saturday Night Live," where the former Mouseketeer first revealed his acting chops.

The folk revival music of "Inside Llewyn Davis" is quite a distance from Timerlake's "My Love" or "Suit and Tie," but Burnett doesn't think much of genre divisions.

"He's from Memphis, says Burnett. "He's an R&B singer, basically. But he's got a beautiful voice and he's got incredible tone and he can sing anything he wants to. A song is a song."

In "Inside Llewyn Davis," Timberlake plays the smiley

I just started strumming these chords and strumming in a way that we felt was almost like Surfin' Safari or a Coasters tune. It was just one of those things where when the punch lines fit in with the melody so good. We kind of just wrote the song in the back of this guitar shop.

"that groovy Brian Wilson thing that started to happen"

There was a novelty song and then there was a parody of the novelty song. Then there was another parody of the novelty song. Now we've done a rewrite on a take-off of a parody of a novelty song.

started with Tom Lehrer and "Verner von Braun"

"John Glenn having second thoughts"

"put some sex into it, put some swing into it"

Found characters through the type of music they did

Sang base on Auld Triangle

Very collaborative, "We just all jammed together for a couple weeks. So you felt like this counter-culture collective."

(Marcus Mumford, Punch Brothers)

I don't like rules of 'well, this is what you do, or this is the picture frame you're supposed to live in.' You just never know what might come out of trying everything.

Says movie is ironic: I look at them as the equivalent of Dylan in the film industry. I look at them as the folk musicians of the film industry.

Strangest collection

But the movie is populated by full, live recordings of folk revival songs, is

Sell-out music

Ethan's help

___

Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jake_coyle

There was a novelty song and then there was a parody of the novelty song. Then there was another parody of the novelty song. Now we've done a rewrite on a take-off of a parody of a novelty song.

started with Tom Lehrer and "Verner von Braun"

"John Glenn having second thoughts"

"put some sex into it, put some swing into it"

"Adam Driver is a deeply courageous actor."

"He's from Memphis. He's an R&B singer, basically. But he's got a beautiful voice and he's got incredible tone and he can sing anything he wants to. A song is a song."

Got call from Joel

Script doesn't describe performances

Serenidipity because he had just watched Scorsese's Dylan doc

"I get on these documentary kicks."

Dave Van Ronk a big part of that

We didn't know exactly what or who we were going to sound like. We knew there were going to be these musical performances. Joel and Ethan were very clear that they wanted them to be done live.

When we got into rehearsals, that's where everything started to fill itself out. Our rehearsals basically consisted of recording the soundtrack.

Two weeks in studio

Session at T Bone's house in Los Angeles

Jim's "big breakout song"

Find a way for it to be funny ...

He wanted to go get his own guitar, when to guitar shop in Valley

Day earlier had idea of space race: "which we thought was a funny subject to start with"

Coasters was a reference, "that groovy Brian Wilson thing that started to happen"

I just started strumming these chords and strumming in a way that we felt was almost like Surfin' Safari or a Coasters tune. It was just one of those things where when the punch lines fit in with the melody so good. We kind of just wrote the song in the back of this guitar shop.

Adam Driver thing found on the day

Ethan told Oscar "three pah- pah- pah-s before the 'please'"

It just became this thing that I think only Joel and Ethan can do.

Surreal moment

Performs 500 miles

Says movie is ironic: I look at them as the equivalent of Dylan in the film industry. I look at them as the folk musicians of the film industry.

Will be touring until end of 2014

Has developed the ability to compartmentalize all the work

When you're able to do that, you can actually combine it a lot easy. You can actually find a bridge between all of it.

I don't even know what I am, man. (chuckles)

Found characters through the type of music they did

Sang base on Auld Triangle

Very collaborative, "We just all jammed together for a couple weeks. So you felt like this counter-culture collective."

(Marcus Mumford, Punch Brothers)

I don't like rules of 'well, this is what you do, or this is the picture frame you're supposed to live in.' You just never know what might come out of trying everything.

It's the first time that I've gotten to kind of do a lot of things that I love to do at the same time — a lot of things that I'm here to do at the same time.

Rare

It will always be a milestone for me to get to write, sing, act and bring it all together.

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