• Industry

Jason Isaacs: Another 48 Hours

How much activity can you pack into less than two days? Just ask Jason Isaacs, a man of boundless energy. The British actor flew in from London for the premiere of Stockholm, Pennsylvania on Friday and left early Sunday morning for Croatia where he is shooting the TV series Dig. “The jet lag helps!” he joked as he came hurrying down Main Street for our interview, carrying bags of swag. Something he joked about in his tweets later:
“Funnily enough, the first time I came (to Sundance), almost all of Main Street was people giving stuff away to actors and I came with a micro budget film, and then it turned into a feeding frenzy and it’s hard to resist when people are giving you lots of stuff. But it’s been scaled back quite a bit over the years and I am glad. There are a few places that do it here now, but mostly, as it should be, it’s about films and meeting other filmmakers and trying to promote films.” In Stockholm, Pennsylvania Isaacs plays the bad guy, the kidnapper, who abducts a four year old girl and holds her for 18 years. And yet, by the way he portrays him, it is – almost – hard to hate him. “I think what’s great about the film and the reason I wanted to do it, is that it challenged everyone’s thought. Initially when I heard the premise, I kind of braced myself to read the script and as soon as I opened it, I realized that Nicole Beckwith (the writer-director) is not interested in dealing with any of that stuff and the idea of someone coming out of a basement is just a springboard to explore what makes character, what makes connections and attachments between people.”
Jason Isaacs credits the script with the kind of subtlety and psychological insight that made it possible for him to play the character without judging him: “It was such a magnificently surprising exploration of those aspects of human nature that I forgot entirely that there was someone in a basement, and I was just a man with this precious thing that I love and adore. And it’s up to the audience to work out ultimately who Leia is and whether the things that have been done to her are terrible or she has been prepared for the world in a magnificent way?”
He admits the role posed a challenge: “When she’s a child, I am treating her like a child and I am a father in many ways, and then she’s a teenager, and then she’s a young adult and the relationship changes a lot. And in terms of the exploration about how the power dynamic changes in relationships, as someone who has a daughter who is about to be a teenager, it was certainly challenging to me.”
The next morning he is off to face a challenge of a different kind as he is flying to Europe to finish the last episodes of the upcoming mystery crime series Dig that began filming in Israel before the war broke out in June of last year: “I will be running around Croatia tomorrow dressed for summer in Jerusalem, with my nipples poking holes in my T-shirt, and the crew will be dressed for the assault on Kilimanjaro. There we are. Such is life. And there are big stunt sequences coming up as well and they are going to freeze the ass off me.”
Elisabeth Sereda