While writing about Kirsten Dunst‘s new movie The Two Faces of January yesterday, I was surprised — and then not surprised — to see that the third member of the love triangle starring her and Viggo Mortensen was Oscar Isaac. In all of the movies that I’ve seen in 2012, Oscar’s is the face that keeps popping up. He was the sensitive security guard who romances Abbie Cornish in W.E., the Outcome agent who has a brief bromance with Jeremy Renner in The Bourne Legacy, the tragic character Standard in Drive, and the famous musician who overshadows his high school reunion in 10 Years. Chances are that even if you don’t know his name, you’ve seen him in something recently.
He’s got the IMDb credits of a character actor, but the looks of a leading man. This 32-year-old actor will likely join the ranks of older actors who break into Hollywood late, like Renner and Jon Hamm. So here’s what you should know about him before you start seeing his face on movie posters.
1. It may not surprise you to learn that Oscar trained at Juilliard. Almost immediately following his graduation in 2005, he took on the role of Proteus in Shakespeare in the Park’s production of Two Gentlemen of Verona opposite Rosario Dawson (with whom he would later co-star in 10 Years, though they shared almost no screen time).
2. When The Nativity Story came out, all the attention was on 16-year-old Keisha Castle-Hughes, who was actually pregnant while playing the Virgin Mary. So it makes sense that we didn’t take notice of the other talent in the film, like Oscar as Joseph. He admitted that at first he wasn’t sure there was anything to add to this story that so many people know, but he found there was actually a lot of room to develop his own take on Joseph. “For instance,” he said, “what is it like for a man that loves God and is completely in love with this woman to have to share the woman he loves with God?” He also takes his craft very seriously and worked with first-century tools for a month to make his hands appropriately swollen and cracked to play a carpenter.
3. That is indeed him singing in 10 Years! Oscar has been the lead singer, songwriter, and guitarist for the rock group Blinking Underdogs, and he played a famous musician in the indie film. While promoting the movie, he and co-star Kate Mara did video chat karaoke with Hello Giggles, and unintentionally made our hearts melt.
4. Oscar has a very candid take on acting and comparing himself to famous performances. It turns out that his role in Two Gents was originated by his idol Raul Julia, though he didn’t know that before auditioning. When asked if he were ever tempted to draw from Julia’s performance, he said, “I’m a big stealer. His humor, even some of his phrasing… I believe in stealing as much as possible! I think it’s all been done—originality is just a lack of information. Ultimately, you really can’t really steal because it’s another person, so whatever I am is going to come through.”
5. He’s also helping to break down racial barriers. Ridley Scott cast him as King John in 2010′s Robin Hood, despite the fact that detractors could call it inauthentic for a Latino actor to play the King of England. Of course, Oscar was immensely grateful for the opportunity: “I definitely said to him, ‘Look, Ridley, I know you went to bat for me’ and he goes, ‘Yeah, I did—you better be good!’ and I was like, ‘I will, man, I will!’” Interestingly, the movie that first paired him with Scott was Body of Lies, where Oscar (who was born in Guatemalan) played an Iraqi.
Oscar’s next projects include Therese Raquin with Elizabeth Olsen and Tom Felton, and playing the titular character in the 1960s-set music scene film Inside Llewyn Davis. He doesn’t seem to have a Twitter or much of a social media presence, but check Crushable for updates on his career as he slowly breaks into the mainstream.
Photo: Judy Eddy/WENN.com