Exclusive Interview: Jason Isaacs on Sweetwater
CraveOnline: With Harry Potter, if Lucius were a better dad, do you think Draco would have been a better wizard?
Jason Isaacs: I’m not sure there’d [have] been a story. I’m sure the whole thing would’ve just crumbled away in people being extremely nice to each other and having cups of tea. I do think Draco is who Draco is because he had an awful dad. There’s another very insecure man. Lucius is a terrible racist and separatist and Eugenicist if you will, and he was all those things because he was scared. He was scared of muggles and he was scared of the future and progress, and he thought that maybe if he kowtowed and threw his lot in with Voldemort he’d be boosted to some kind of success and status. In the end, his son saw through it. Most boys come from a chain of bullying and Draco broke the chains. To me in some ways, Draco is a bigger hero than Harry because Harry was destined always to do the heroic and right and brave thing. Draco wasn’t and did it anyway which I always find more admirable.
He does still run away in the end, doesn’t he?
Well, it’s pretty ambiguous. Right at the end when they’re charging in, I turn, I see that my wife and son has run away and my son is never going to have a place in the future since he clearly went over to the other side. I was with Voldemort and Voldemort has not paid me the slightest bit of respect since he came back. He snapped my wand at the table. I feel like there’s no future for me in any world. He’s lost I think.
We actually shot a sequence in which I was standing there not knowing whether to go with my wife or chase into the building, and everybody trampled over me and I was left trampled on the floor with people literally running over my head. Then they realized that that’s where Harry and Voldemort end up after the fight. They would’ve landed on me, so we shot one where I skedaddled. If you see me, I’m neither with my wife and kid nor am I attacking Hogwarts. So I fear for his future. I see nothing good in it.
I always wondered, why don’t they just get rid of Slytherin? That’s where all the evil wizards come from.
That’s like saying why do you go down to the basement in a horror film? Don’t go and change the fuse. Then there’ll be a short.
Were you aware how legendary the movie Abduction has become?
No, in what circles has it become legendary?
Maybe not for the audience it was intended to. People are now enjoying how it was not what it was intended to be?
Like Rocky Horror and shouting out the lines? Is there a sing-along version?
Not quite to that extent, but it may have to do with the fact there’s no abduction in the movie Abduction?
[Laughs] You know, everybody who makes films, wants them to be great. They want them to be as good as they can. John Singleton is a wonderful filmmaker. He’s made many great films before, he’ll make great films again. There are lots of great actors in it I keep in touch with. Taylor [Lautner]’s a force of nature. It just shows you can have great writers, great actors, great director, a great company, Lionsgate, and just in the end the souffle didn’t rise in the way that everyone intended. It’s very hard to make a good film. It’s hard to do traditional films, a traditional thriller and yet make it surprising, give the audience what they expect and want and yet make them new and fresh. If anybody knew how to do it every time, they would be sitting atop the Hollywood Christmas tree.
Clearly that’s one that didn’t set the audience alight. I say for my own part, I had a wonderful time. I got to hang with John Singleton who I’m a huge fan of. I got a big old fight with Taylor I had to train with a kickboxing champion for a while which is very cool, and I got a bunch of scenes with the fabulous Maria Bello which we had a riot. Then I’m dead. I wasn’t any part of chasing in that football stadium or any of that stuff. My bit in the film I enjoyed tremendously.
And isn’t it better that it’s still talked about than if it were just forgotten?
I had no idea that anyone even knew it existed anymore. I’m talking to you from the hotel room in Rio where I’m doing a short film for Guillermo Arriaga who wrote 21 Grams, Amores Perros and Babel and is a wonderful director too. I have a big old boxing sequence in it and I have Abduction to thank for whatever boxing skills I can affect on screen, so you never know what the consequence of these things are.
So this is a short you’re doing in Rio?
It’s Rio I Love You. They did Paris je t’aime and New York, I Love You and now they’re doing Rio, I Love You. It’s part of the cities of love sequence. Fernando Meirelles has done a section and a bunch of wonderful directors. It’s one of those compilation films. You just keep bumping into people going, “Holy shit, you’re here too.”
Are you running into the other productions while you’re there?
Yeah, because everyone’s shooting their lot at the same time. There are transition sequences. It’s nice, I’m working with people and they seem like very nice, humble young or old people. Then you walk out in the streets and paparazzi all go nuts and people want their autographs. I say to the director, “Are they well known here?” He goes, “They can’t open their front door.” Of course I don’t know who these famous people are. Inside the rehearsal room, we’re just people trying not to punch each other too hard in the face.
Do you get to be a romantic leading man in this story?
Very much not. I would say that would be very much not the case. He’s a wonderful writer so all the characters are extremely three dimensional. Everyone’s got secrets with Guillermo’s writing.
Well, thank you for spending so much time with me, with all your enthusiasm. I hope this phone bill isn’t too expensive.
You know, I love my job. Every now and again I get to do things that are ludicrously fun. I’ve done a few films this year that I’ve really, really enjoyed. The smaller ones are always fun because there’s always more passion on them. Every now and again I get to meet people who have a great time doing something they love and I go and join them and I get embarrassed that I call this my day job. Most of the most interesting jobs don’t pay any money. That’s the truth of it so it’s okay to be as passionate about things like that.