Oscar Isaac interview: ‘Moon Knight,’ ‘Scenes from a Marriage’
“I love the character and I really did enjoy my collaboration with Marvel, so if there was a really interesting take on a story, I’m all ears,” reveals Oscar Isaac about the possibility of one day donning the iconic Moon Knight suit again. The acclaimed actor had two high profile roles this past season, as the titular anti-hero in the Marvel Studio blockbuster action adventure “Moon Knight” and as a husband and father whose marriage begins to painfully unravel in the intimate HBO prestige drama “Scenes From a Marriage.”
For Isaac, both roles presented significant challenges, because both of these very different men are tormented by profound trauma on the one hand, or by blindsiding betrayal on the other. The genre and tone of both series didn’t ultimately matter to the actor, because he needed to approach both characters with a similar sincerity and truthfulness. “I appreciate that something this mainstream and something from the MCU is being considered seriously as a real piece of work,” he says, adding for our recent webchat, “we all approached it with the same kind of mindfulness and passion and inspiration as anything that I’ve done.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.
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“Moon Knight” was adapted by writer Jeremy Slater, based on the Marvel comics featuring the character of the same name. Isaac stars as Marc Spector (a.k.a. Moon Knight) and Steven Grant (a.k.a. Mr. Knight), two alters of a man with dissociative identity disorder (who we eventually learn is joined by a third alter, the mysterious Jake Lockley). Marc is a ruthless mercenary who becomes Moon Knight, the avatar (i.e. the manifestation of a deity in bodily form on earth) for the Egyptian moon god Khonshu, with his alter Steven, a mild-mannered British gift-shop employee who becomes Mr. Knight, Steven’s persona when he is Khonshu’s avatar. The series co-stars May Calamawy as Spector’s estranged wife Layla El-Faouly (who later becomes the Scarlet Scarab), Oscar nominee Ethan Hawke as villain Harrow and Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham, the voice of Khonshu. “Moon Knight” premiered March 30 to critical acclaim and strong word-of-mouth, scoring an impressive “fresh” rating of 88% on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics reserving special praise for Isaac and the show’s impressive production values and darker tone.
“Scenes From a Marriage,” which is based on the acclaimed 1973 Ingmar Bergman miniseries, examines the painful disintegration of a couple’s relationship. It was adapted by Israeli writer/director Hagai Levi (“The Affair”), in which Isaac stars alongside Oscar winner Jessica Chastain (“The Eyes of Tammy Faye”), both of whom had previously starred together in 2014’s “A Most Violent Year.” The limited series was also a hit with critics, scoring 82% at Rotten Tomatoes, with the site singling out the two leads for their “crackling chemistry and impressive performances” as “a sight to behold.”
“That was a real, unusual, wild, uncanny experience, where it was this dance with this other performer, someone I know so well for such a long time and we completely synchronized so that we didn’t have to talk about it, we didn’t have to even rehearse,” Isaac explains of his experience alongside Chastain on the HBO drama. “We just had to get in the room and live out these scenarios and do these long 30-minute takes without cutting so it was this weird hybrid between TV and theater and film because it had this intimacy of film, it had the long form of television and it had the actual form of filming these scenes like 30 minute takes was like doing theater, so it was it was pretty it was really wild.”
“Moon Knight” on the other hand “was just such an incredible mountain to scale,” he admits. “It was difficult to understand just how complicated it was going to be even just preparing for it, until you’re there and realizing that not only is it two separate characters, but sometimes I’d be playing two separate characters watching themselves in the past interacting as well,” he says, recalling examples like in the fifth episode when the series reveals more about the character’s traumatic backstory. “Mark from the future watching Steven from the present, watching Mark from the past turn into Steven from the past,” he gasps. “All that we shot the same day so all of them have to have the very specific point of view, their emotional truth to what’s happening in that moment, and also holding the entire story in one’s mind, to have it make sense and be telling the story, that twisting of the brain and being very specific with each one and what’s happening with each one.”