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As an actor, Oscar Isaac has been getting a lot of attention over the last year, and for good reason. This year he already starred in Ex Machina, Mojave, and the HBO miniseries Show Me a Hero. Later in 2015 he has Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and next year he will take on the X-Men as X-Men: Apocalypse’s eponymous antagonist. However, if you’ve been following his interviews, it’s clear that the man takes his craft seriously, but his latest quotes prove just how smart he actually is when it comes to understanding his projects.
When asked by The Playlist about what he took away from his roles in X-Men: Apocalypse and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Isaac got deep by citing naturalism, Stanley Kubrick, greek tragedies, and kabuki theatre. Don’t take my word for it, check out his exact words:
With 'X-Men' it was great because there’s an embodiment of such big ideas, you’re not working in the realm of naturalism. And just because something's natural doesn’t mean that it's interesting — and I think Kubrick knew that very well. Sometimes it’s fun to push performance into other places that is not just about the same kind of verité thing. You can go to heightened places in a Greek tragedy or kabuki kind of way. You have these forms that express more than just an individual’s personality.
The actor continued by saying that both X-Men: Apocalypse and Star Wars: The Force Awakens let him play in these heightened realities that don’t have to delve into "all the colors," and instead just explore the "primary colors." Presumably he means that compared to more complicated narratives, the Star Wars and X-Men movies don’t rely as heavily on shades of grey in favor of simplicity. Good is good and bad is bad, though that’s not to say there isn’t any subtext or complexities to the stories, which, as he pointed out, are more than just about expressing an individual’s personality.
Isaac’s statement shows that he isn’t just a guy who looks at the script, decides which facial expressions and tones to use, and then just does the scene. He seeks to gain a deep understanding of the material he’s working with, and ideally that makes his performances even better. Honestly, though, I’ve had to reread those sentences a few times just to get a sense of what he’s talking about. If you were to ask me about the X-Men films, I certainly wouldn’t have thought of Greek tragedies right away, let alone kabuki theater, though in this context they are fitting comparisons.
Isaac can be seen as the ancient Egyptian mutant Apocalypse when X-Men: Apocalypse hits theaters on May 27, 2016, but you can see him before that as Resistance pilot Poe Dameron in Star Wars: The Force Awakens on December 18.