LOS ANGELES – We first met actor Oscar Isaac when he played the lead in the comedy-drama “Inside Llewyn Davis” in 2013 for which he received a Golden Globe Award nomination. Now after several box-office successes (“Star Wars” sequel trilogy, “X-Men: Apocalypse”) and now as producer of “Operation Finale.”
The upcoming historical drama film, helmed by Chris Weitz, features Oscar as Israeli spy Peter Malkin. The story is about Jewish Nazi hunters sent out to find and capture former SS officer Adolf Eichmann (Ben Kingsley) in 1960.
On the wonderful different portrayal of Eichmann, the villain or monster in the movie, Oscar explained, “It’s part of the reason I chose this film to be the first film I produced because I really wanted a hand in how the story was told. It was important to not have easy answers to easy questions in the movie, but to delve into the complexity, like the ethical questions of justice and revenge.”
What did he learn from producing and where does he see himself within the next two or three years?
“It certainly made me less interested in just actor for hire,” Oscar admitted. “It made me more interested in shaping the stories that I am involved with. And also because of deciding to do a movie or a piece of theater, a work, it really does mean being away from my family. And so it really is going to have to take something that is incredibly important to me that I have to do in order to be willing to separate myself from my family for a bit. So I think that is why it seemed like a natural progression into producing and at some point I think probably directing as well.
“For Malkin, obviously there’s the history of the thing and the weight of a nation. But on a very personal level, he’s dealing with his own grief for his sister and for his family that was killed and it stands in for the grief of a nation as well…”
Now that he is a father, what does it mean to be one? And your baby being half Danish, what surprised him about it?
“It’s an incredible country and they are actually there right now,” he disclosed. “It’s such a beautiful place and it’s a shame that I can’t live there, because it’s incredibly difficult to learn the language and it’s impossible. I am trying, but it’s very hard.”
On what surprised him about fatherhood and becoming a father, Oscar confessed, “It’s one of those things where birth and death, they are the most common thing and also the most mindboggling thing that can ever occur and happen. It’s just so funny how it works that way. So this is what I am surprised about, how I can be both so tired and so excited at the same time. It’s non-stop running around after this kid and feeling so sleepy all the time, but so happy at the same time.”
How was it living in Argentina? Did he feel at home?
“I had never been there before and it was very different from Central America and Guatemala,” he said. “There’s definitely a much more European feel and sometimes it feels like you are in Italy somewhere and even the way that they speak Spanish. But I really loved the people down there and Central America, being Central American, you always think oh, the Argentineans down there are snobs. But I didn’t find that to be the case at all. I found them to be so warm and fun and I got down to Patagonia and we shot in Bariloche as well and that was just such a beautiful part of the world, stunning. It was really great. I ate way too much steak, but it was good.”
So how does he feel being connected to his parents and grandparents’ lives and does he feel like continuing the lives that they couldn’t live?
“Yes, that is one of those beautiful things in life itself, where it’s like, you are the continuation of the story of your parents and of their story and to really key into that is a beautiful thing,” Oscar pointed out. “There is something beautiful about remembering that you aren’t just an isolated story but that you are the context of your family and of the people around you.
“I am an immigrant. My parents met in Guatemala. My father grew up in DC, but he came from Cuba when he was nine years old and went to study in Guatemala. So they met down there, got married and had my sister and me. They wanted to come to the United States for a better life for me and for my sister. We came over and we were welcomed into this country. My father is a doctor and he worked his entire life. I didn’t see him very much because he was always on the graveyard shift, but constantly in the halls of healing. My sister is a scientist and a climate change activist. She brings so much awareness and help for that particular cause and really for low-income areas that are most minority areas, which are the most at risk because any infrastructure that is happening for climate change, isn’t happening in the poor areas, that’s happening in a place where there is money.
“What I am talking about is contribution and being welcomed into this country and then having something to contribute. And especially with the dialogue nowadays and the rhetoric, this kind of anti-immigrant, nationalistic mentality that is happening, I feel extra connected to my roots and what parents and grandparents, what their dreams were for us and also for a better world in general.”