Jason Isaacs Goes Deep on Harry Potter, Angels in America, and More

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No one’s had a career quite like this man.


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The fascinating conundrum of Jason Isaacs‘ career is this: After decades on the stage and screen, he has become an iconic source of villainy — to the point where he no longer can play villains that often.

“I’m offered quite often the person who seems all right, and then turns out to be the cannibalistic, serial killing pedophile or whatever,” he told me in our latest installment of Collider Connected. “I’m not broke, thank God. Otherwise, I’d do anything. I’m not proud. But I don’t think that’s going to help the audience very much.”

In fact, he said, “there was a part in a season of a very popular TV show that reboots every season, that was a great part that I quite fancied. The creator wanted me for it. The head of the network said, ‘We like Jason. He’s been in other of our shows. He’ll be in other shows, hopefully in the future. But the audience is going to be way ahead of you.'”

While Isaacs didn’t say what show that might have been, he wasn’t afraid to get delightfully candid about so many other aspects of his life as an actor. His most recent role came courtesy of director Simon West, who cast him as the sole white character in the Chinese disaster film Skyfire, now available on VOD. But when you go over his career, his love for variety becomes quite clear, whether it be having fun snarling through blockbuster franchises like Harry Potter or exploring the depths of character and storytelling possible in the indie film world. “I like playing with Simon,” he said. “But if it was all that, then acting would be a very empty experience.”

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Image via Netflix

In the below in-depth conversation, Isaacs and I discussed a lot, including:

  • The journey which led him to starring in Skyfire — one that began over 20 years ago when he auditioned for Simon West’s Con Air.
  • The difficulties of acting in an all-Chinese production, and what he learned about the differences between Mandarin and English as an actor.
  • Why the Chinese don’t call movies like Skyfire “disaster movies,” and how his character’s role in the film as a
  • Why he keeps asking to do crazy stunts on set, and how much damage he’s taken physically over the years in doing so.
  • The fact that he’s been to the Sundance Film Festival six times— for films where “the real actor stuff comes on,” even though of his films that played at the fest over the years, only two ever made it into theaters.
  • What it was like to make Mass, which will premiere at Sundance during the upcoming virtual fest. The micro-budget indie, directed by first time director Fran Kranz and co-starring Martha Plimpton and Ann Dowd, was in his words “an overwhelming experience.”
  • Why he still values the theatrical experience: “I don’t care how big your screen is at home, and how great your soundbar is. You don’t get that when you watch things by yourself.”
  • His experience starring in the 1993 run of Angels in America on the London stage, a year-long stint that he knew at the time, “whatever else I do professionally, for the rest of my life, artistically, nothing will ever touch this.”
  • Why, to him, the experience of being a part of the Harry Potter franchise was vastly different than playing Captain Lorca on Star Trek: Discovery or the voice of the Inquisitor in Star Wars Rebels.
  • Some vague comments as to whether or not he’d be open to playing the Inquisitor in a live-action context (much like Katee Sackhoff went on to do for The Mandalorian).
  • What little he can say about his announced appearance in the third season of Netflix’s Sex Education.
  • Even less about what The OA creators Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij had planned for the canceled third season of the trippy Netflix drama.
  • Whether there’s a secret Event Horizon director’s cut out there.
  • The difficulties of doing the voice work for The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance.
  • His remarkably zen outlook on appearing in series that are frequently canceled.
  • And what he’s currently watching these days (spoiler alert: mostly whatever his daughters are watching).

Watch the full extended conversation below. Skyfire is available now on VOD.


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