Jason Isaacs

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Jason Isaacs

Isaacs as Sir Mark Brydon in the BBC television mini-series The State Within (2006).
Born June 6, 1963 (age 43)
Flag of England Liverpool, Merseyside
Notable roles Dr. Ronald Quincy in Armageddon (1998)
Col. William Tavington in The Patriot (2000)
Lucius Malfoy in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)

Jason Isaacs (born June 6, 1963) is an English actor.


[edit] Early life

Isaacs was born in Liverpool, Merseyside, England and grew up in Liverpool and London[1] as the third of four brothers. He had initially planned on becoming a lawyer, following his more traditionally-inclined brothers who are a doctor, lawyer, and accountant, and entered Bristol University. However, he felt uneasy among peers "who all sounded like Hugh Grant". He fell into acting in the first year of his law studies, signing up for the drama society after seeing an audition for a part with "Northern accent required".[2] Cast in a play entitled Idle Hands, he ended up dancing naked, covered in chicken's blood – the first of many uncomfortable evenings in the theatre for his parents (in his second, The Glory of Love, he was castrated with a cheese-wire). Although he first became interested in acting in part because "it was a great way to meet girls", Jason soon found deeper meaning in the theatre (in one interview he was quoted as saying "I could release myself into acting in a way that I was not released socially") and, after finishing his degree, studied for a further three years at London's Central School of Speech and Drama, graduating in 1988 with an agent, a day's work on The Tall Guy and a girlfriend, Emma Hewitt, who was to become his wife.

[edit] Career

Once in London, Isaacs began landing on his feet, almost immediately appearing on the stage and on television.

Isaacs was initially known as a T.V. actor in the U.K., having starring roles in the ITV drama Capital City and the BBC drama Civvies, and guest roles in series such as Taggart and Inspector Morse. He made his big-screen debut in 1989 with a minor turn as a doctor in Mel Smith's The Tall Guy. Jason exhibited his versatility in several more T.V. series and on-stage in such productions as the Royal National Theatre's 1993 staging of Tony Kushner's Pulitzer Prize-winning Angels in America. He also began to find more work onscreen, receiving his first nod of Hollywood recognition in his casting in the Bruce Willis blockbuster Armageddon (1998). Initially called upon to take a fairly substantial role, Jason was eventually cast in a much smaller capacity as a planet-saving scientist so that he could accommodate his commitment to Divorcing Jack (1998), a comedy thriller he was making with fellow Harry Potter alumnus David Thewlis. After portraying a priest opposite Julianne Moore and Ralph Fiennes in Neil Jordan's acclaimed adaptation of Graham Greene's The End of the Affair, Jason got his biggest international break to date when he was picked to portray the villain, Colonel William Tavington, in Roland Emmerich's Revolutionary War epic The Patriot (2000). Starring opposite Mel Gibson, who played the film's hero, Jason made an unnervingly memorable impression as a fictional sadistic British army officer, emerging as one of summer 2000's most indelible screen presences. Although his work in the film earned him comparisons to Ralph Fiennes' portrayal of evil Nazi Amon Göth in Schindler's List and talks of a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination, the actor was not content to be typecast in the historical-scum mold. Thus, he signed on to play none other than a drag queen for his next project, Sweet November, a romantic comedy-drama starring Charlize Theron and Keanu Reeves.

Isaacs has appeared in many films such as Black Hawk Down, Divorcing Jack, Dragonheart, Event Horizon and The End of the Affair. Notable roles include Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter series, as well as Captain Hook/Mr. Darling in P. J. Hogan's adaptation of Peter Pan. Isaacs has also appeared in episodes of The West Wing and stars in the Showtime series Brotherhood. Jason was recently seen in the U.K. mini-series The State Within (2006) on BBC One, which is currently being screened on BBC America at 9 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

In 2007, Isaacs appears on stage, his first theatre job in six years, in Harold Pinter's The Dumb Waiter. This production runs from February 2 to March 24.

[edit] Private life

Isaacs and his wife, BBC documentary filmmaker Emma Hewitt, have two daughters: Lily (born 23 March 2002) and Ruby (26 August 2005).

[edit] Trivia

  • Isaacs has a long-running professional relationship with director Paul W. S. Anderson and producer Jeremy Bolt. Isaacs has appeared in four of Anderson's movies, mostly from his early period including Shopping, Event Horizon and Soldier. He had an uncredited role as Dr. William Birkin (and the narrator) in Resident Evil (2002). He was also set to play Dr. Birkin in Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004), but for some reason left the project. That is why in the 2002 movie the only part of Isaacs' face that can be seen are his eyes; the rest was covered by a medical mask. It is assumed that his role was taken over by Iain Glen.
  • In November 2006, speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, film reviewer Mark Kermode revealed that he and Isaacs were in the same year at Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School, although they were not friends: Kermode later clarified, in March 2007, that while he admired Isaacs, he wasn't "cool enough" to be in the same circle.
  • In a 26 November 2006 article published in the San Francisco Chronicle, Isaacs was voted by the author as one of the 13 "Sexiest Men Who Are Real and Alive", while Lucius Malfoy, the character he portrayed in the Harry Potter films, was named as one of the 12 "Sexiest Men Who Were Never Alive".[3]
  • Isaacs writes with his left hand, but uses his right hand when playing sports or when portraying acts of violence in films.[4]
  • He is interested in playing tennis at some stage.[citation needed]
  • He is afraid of horses and spiders.[5]
  • When taking on the role of Lucius Malfoy in the "Harry Potter" films, Issacs disagreed with the producer's idea that Malfoy be in a business suit and created the costume of a dark cape and cane.

[edit] Award nominations

[edit] Personal quotes

  • Isaacs has a theory that his entire childhood was a preparation for the relatively unpleasant characters who have come his way. "There is a streak of cruelty in me that comes from having a quite competitive background. There were four boys in the house and we were pretty unkind to each other. I've been bullied a lot, sometimes by my brothers, sometimes at school. It wasn't a great thing to be a Jewish teenager when the National Front were passing leaflets around the school."[6]
  • On being an 'invisible star' who can travel by the Tube to film premieres unrecognized: "They just think, who's that t*** in black tie? As soon as I get on the red carpet they start screaming and screaming. It's laughable because when it's all over I go home on the Tube as well."[7]
  • "I imagine like most of us that I'd like obscene amounts of money but the people I met and worked with who have those obscene amounts of money and have obscene amounts of fame have awful lives. Really. I mean hideously compromised lives. And I can go anywhere. No one knows who I am. I can go on the tube and bus and wander through the streets. So I'm quite happy not to get the girl."
  • "Every time I make a plan, God laughs at me."
  • "Look, I play all these tough guys and thugs and strong, complex characters. In real life, I am a cringing, neurotic Jewish mess. Can't I for once play that on stage?" – to the producers of the stage version of Angels in America while auditioning for the part of 'Louis'.
  • On the Harry Potter books by J. K. Rowling: "I went off and read the books after the audition and I read all four books in one sitting – you know – didn't wash, didn't eat, drove around with them on the steering wheel like a lunatic. I suddenly understood why my friends, who I'd thought were slightly backward, had been so addicted to these children's books. They're like crack."
  • When asked whether or not he would be in the fifth film, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (due to be released in 2007), he replied: "I hope so – you'll have to ask David [director David Yates]. I can't bear the idea that somebody else would get to wear my Paris Hilton wig, but you never know."
  • On talking to J. K. Rowling on the inclusion of Lucius Malfoy in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows so that he would have a part in the seventh film: "I fell to my knees and begged. It didn't do any good. I'm sure she doesn't need plot ideas from me. But I made my point. We'll see. Like everybody else, I'm holding my breath to July to see what's in there. I just want to bust out of prison, that's all. I don't want to stay in Azkaban most of my life."[8]

[edit] Selected filmography

Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002).
Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002).

Also featured in:

[edit] Notes

[edit] References

[edit] External links