Earlier this year, Oscar Isaac received tons of praise for his performance as the titular superhero in Marvel’s Moon Knight. Many fans couldn’t imagine anyone else putting on a better portrayal of Steven Grant and his alter egos. But Oscar Isaac nearly turned down the role, and he stated in a recent interview that he experienced “mental torment” over joining Moon Knight. Here’s why the actor was in so much distress — and what led him to ultimately say yes to the role.
Oscar Isaac says it was ‘mental torment’ to decide if he wanted to accept his ‘Moon Knight’ role
Isaac recently joined Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton, Tom Hiddleston, Brian Cox, and Quincy Isaiah for The Hollywood Reporter’s Drama Actor Emmy Roundtable, where they discussed the biggest risks in their careers. For Isaac, that was Moon Knight. He explained that he had wanted to try smaller and more artistic films instead of a blockbuster, and a Marvel role could leave a big mark on his career in a good way or a bad way.
“Like, ‘Man, I’m going to go down hard with this thing.’ Just the level of embarrassment that it would be, once you throw on a cape, you know what I mean? And you’re out in front of it,” Isaac explained. “It’s like, “Holy s***, I’m really doing this thing.”
Isaac already had experience with blockbusters, and those projects had mixed responses. X-Men: Apocalypse didn’t fare well with fans and critics, but his role as Poe Dameron in the Star Wars franchise was well-received. Isaac also spent quite a lot of time working on the Star Wars films, which made him hesitant to take on a big role in Moon Knight.
“The trick with this one was, like, ‘Can I do both?’ Can you smuggle in the thing that matters to me, the reason why I like doing it, so every morning when that alarm goes off, I could be excited to get to work and not just be like, ‘I’ve got to get through this to get that check or whatever.’ And it seemed like this was an opportunity, maybe because of the TV landscape, where there seems to be a lot more risk-taking, to do this bizarre thing that happened to be in the case of a superhero genre film.”
In the end, Isaac decided Moon Knight was the right move, but he went through “mental torment” in reaching his decision.
What made Oscar Isaac say ‘yes’ to ‘Moon Knight’?
Moon Knight turned out to be a project that fit both “blockbuster” and “artistic” categories. In an interview with Variety, Isaac said he “desperately” wanted to experience a project that felt “handmade.” That’s what ultimately drove him to accept his role.
“It’s the first legitimate Marvel character-study since Iron Man. I thought, ‘Maybe I can hijack this thing. Maybe this is the chance to do something really f***ing nutty on a major stage,” Isaac said.
‘Moon Knight’ turned out to be the ‘best career risk’ yet
It was all worth it in the end. Isaac had nothing but positive things to say about his experience filming Moon Knight (except that he felt a bit uncomfortable at first). And when he spoke to Good Morning Arizona about the project last year, he called Moon Knight the best risk he’s ever taken.
“I’m doing this show called Moon Knight. We got a month left, and I feel like, so far, that this might be the one where I was like, ‘I was so nervous about it,’ but I’ve just been having such a blast,” he said.
Moon Knight Season 1 is now streaming on Disney+.