Isaac at the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con International promoting Star Wars: The Force Awakens
|Born||Ã“scar Isaac HernÃ¡ndez Estrada
March 9, 1979 
|Residence||New York City, United States|
|Education||Miami Dade College, Juilliard School|
|Home town||Miami, Florida, United States|
What you wear can be such an indicator of so many things. You know, how you feel, how you want others to perceive you. So, that is an absolutely essential part of building a character.
The motivation is important for me to act it, but I don't necessarily want the audience to know my motivation.
When I came up to New York to do a play, I passed by Julliard, and I was like, 'Oh I heard of this place.' I applied, and ended up getting in.
Anything that's made by humans is about humans, whether it's about gods or aliens or anything; it's about some sort of expressive nature about us.
My dad was a huge Bob Dylan fan, so we listened to his music, Cat Stevens, Simon & Garfunkel, and all that kind of stuff.
Being someone with Latin roots, so many doors are constantly closed for you because people put you in a category, and the thing I've always wanted to avoid is categorisation.
It'd be crazy to say just because an artist is not successful that means he's not talented. I don't think anybody really believes that, but sometimes it feels that way.
Anybody who dedicates himself to exploring the human condition, there's always a detached eye that's watching. In any situation, a little part of me is observing it, to see if there are any raw materials to create something else later.
I remember the first time my mind was blown by an actor was Tim Curry, because I loved 'Clue' when I was a kid, and then I was watching the movie 'Legend,' and the Devil suddenly smiles, and I was like, 'It's the same guy!' It was a total Keyser Soeze moment.
I've been fortunate to be working mostly right out of school. Every year, there was a little something, and it kept the confidence going. It's about confidence and the belief.
A personal game-changer was when Ridley Scott cast me as King John, the King of England, for 'Robin Hood.'
I've done movies I'm very proud of, but there's always a sense of: 'Come see this shiny new car!' The question I hate the most is: 'Why should people see it?'
Every frame of a Coen brothers movie is filled with history and meaning, and the deeper you go, the deeper you get. That's why their movies stand up particularly well to repeated viewing and investigation.
In a play, you dictate pace, you dictate rhythm, you dictate when people look at you, when people should be looking at something else. In film, the editor does that.
The songs I've written that are the strongest, I'm like: 'I don't know where that came from. It just kind of popped out.' You feel you can't take a whole lot of credit for it. I didn't purposefully will it into existence.
I was in bands, but they were punk bands, and you plug in the guitars, you turn them up really loud, you've got four or five other people on stage with you, you've got some protection from when they throw lighters. You can always hide behind the lead singer or the bass player.
I think that's why often people in creative fields can feel so alone is because there's a constant third eye, that constant watcher.
Cats are impossible to work with. They're just very difficult because you can't really train them. They're not really interested in whatever you want them to do. Dogs want to please you; cats only want to please themselves.
I'm very happy to have the heritage that I do, but I'm not wanting to be 'the Latino actor.' I just want to be 'an actor.'
A movie set is like a petri dish for neuroses, you know? It's just, like, egos and weird personalities and, more than anything, fear.
The self-made man that some people believe is a myth? It could be, because you do it on the backs of other people.
When I'm creating a character, I don't see it so much as playing someone else as just playing a specific part of myself under certain circumstances.
I come from a place where everything about me, even my body language, is saying: I mean you no harm. I smile, I laugh. Basic stuff for most people.
I'm really sick of anthems. Every song has to be a very big singalong thing – it feels very Eighties. There are a lot of 'whoah whoa whoahs,' this stadium thing. You're even getting that from some of the 'folk' groups. I can't stand it.
If you start trying to communicate ideas, I think you don't allow the audience to see themselves.
My dad was a doctor, but he was just always, like, going from hospital to hospital for some reason.
I grow up in the States, in Miami, but I was born in Guatemala, and my father's Cuban, and in 'Body of Lies,' I played an Iraqi.
If you can find a way that your principles are actually the strategically smartest thing to do, you've kind of figured it out.
That first play I did in New York, Rogelio Martinez's 'When It's Cocktail Time in Cuba,' I played a young Fidel Castro.
I was interested in the war part of 'Star Wars,' so I started reading about what it's like to go to war, what that does to you psychically, about the adrenaline and the rush.
I think Shakespeare really got it. He was the first one to introduce psychology to villains and give them a real point of view.
With Shakespeare, there's no subtext; you're speaking exactly what you're thinking constantly.
The very first proper play I did was 'Godspell,' and I played the guitar for it, and I had a small part in a high school play. And before that, in sixth grade, I wrote a musical about Noah's ark.
I really just like characters who you don't know where they stand for a long while. It's like people. You hang out with them for 10 years, and then all of a sudden they do something, and you say, 'Who are you?' That's more interesting. In life and on-screen.
I like films that take their time a little bit more and don't show you all of their cards right away, characters that are conflicted and contradicting and seem one way at first and then suddenly turn out to be something else.
'Mojave' is a very wild, throwback film with these two dudes going after each other.
I was never much of a singer. I was terrible. It's embarrassing: I was trying to sound like everybody else. I went through a big Cure phase, so I was trying to do that kind of dramatic voice.
When I moved to New York, I had to let my band know that I couldn't play anymore, and that was difficult to leave that behind.
Most actors, if you ask them if they play guitar, they'll say they played guitar for 20 years, but what they really mean is they've owned a guitar for 20 years.
I actually started playing in little cafes around New York, and I have a lot of good friends of mine who are musicians who are struggling in New York.
There's very few geniuses that come and revolutionize everything. For the rest of us that want to be artists and have something to say, it's a lot of work and a lot of luck.
What's funny in 'The Mayor of MacDougal Street' is how Dave Van Ronk talks a lot about the time and how exciting it was and how electric it was.
I think that when you decide to dedicate yourself to creative endeavors and surround yourself with people who are creative, you very quickly learn how hard it is to survive doing those kinds of things, not to mention make a living at them.
You watch 'Whale Rider,' and I defy you to not get teary-eyed at the end there.
I always like teaser trailers because they don't give too much away, you know? They give just a flavor of what the thing is.
'Cool' is detached and emotionally cool. My instinct is to battle anything that seems overly cool.
I feel like being an artist and being an activist are separate things; I know some people who feel very differently.
I think it's good to be a little more fearless in saying what you feel. In not being scared of the repercussions of that.
How do you play 'righteous'? Do you just kind of stand up straighter? What does that mean as an actor? You don't really play a quality.
There's very few people – like Shakespeare – who, no matter what, were gonna do what they did. For the rest of us, there's a lot of events that have to happen in order for things to end up the way they are.
I think for some reason we're conditioned in movies that the protagonist must be heroic or redeemable in some way, whereas in theater, that's not a necessary.
A lot of very successful businessmen share some of these sociopathic traits – a lack of empathy, seeing people as commodities, projecting an air of sincerity when everything is actually calculated.
I have been playing acoustic music for a very long time, and it's something that I am very comfortable doing, so if I made a record, it would probably be a mixture of that and some other things that I'm interested in.
I think it's the director's prerogative, not the studio's, to go back and reinvent a movie.
I started off thinking that I just needed one shot to prove myself, but then I realised that I was only going to learn about acting by doing it.
The first movie I can remember seeing in the theater was 'Return of the Jedi.' I can remember seeing Darth Vader's helmet come off. The shock of that moment.
I played guitar and bass. I didn't do much vocals, although I did have one band where I was the lead singer. But that was when I was in college.
'Drive' is a genre piece, and a lot of times we don't get really sophisticated genre films.
My dad always played a lot of music, so I heard him playing all the time, and then I decided that I wanted to learn to play guitar, so I got an acoustic and started taking lessons. I wanted to be able to shred like Yngwie Malmsteen.
It's nice to create a character, not just within two scenes, but within the journey of a whole movie. It's fun to do that.
Our morality is based on so many factors: of where we were born, who we were born to, what values were instilled in us, what values we chose, the way that our lives have shaped us. That dictates so much of what we assume is our morality, and also the culture, all of these things.
I've never been much of a guitarist. I mean, I've played forever, but I was always more of a rhythm kind of guy. I don't read music.
I'm open to the idea of doing more musicals if it's one that I really enjoy.
I started playing guitar at, like, 12 or 13 and just rock bands mostly. I had a punk rock band and hard core bands and all that.
The better I am at observing moments in life, the better I'll be at showing them in my acting.
I don't know if they were all functioning, but I did play in a bunch of bands.
I always joked with my parents. I told them, 'If I don't make it as an actor, my fallback is musician.'
I had an audition where Josh Brolin was pelting me with his personality. I didn't get the part.
I don't know why people are so obsessed with finding out stuff before the movie comes out. It's so much more fun to just go. I mean, I don't do that. I don't go looking for stuff that I'm interested in, you know, to try and find out pictures and what the movie's about. It's so much more fun to be surprised.
Usually when I write a song, I'll write the music and then kind of fit some words to it.