A Most Violent Year: Oscar Isaac Describes a Trilogy

If you haven’t been keeping a close eye on Oscar Isaac over the last few years, it’s time to start. The charismatic star of Inside Llewyn Davis and Sucker Punch is receiving some of the best reviews of his career for J.C. Chandor’s A Most Violent Year, and is all set co-star in J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens as an X-Wing pilot, and in X-Men: Apocalypse as the title villain, one of the scariest villains in the Marvel Universe.

But those may not be the only franchises that Oscar Isaac is interested in. In our one-on-one interview with Oscar Isaac we talk all about his complex character in A Most Violent Year, a businessman whose trucks are under attack by carjackers and whose business is under investigation by a New York City district attorney. Abel Morales is getting pressure from his wife, played by Jessica Chastain, and his lawyer, played by Albert Brooks, to solve his problems by any means possible, but Abel refuses to resort to violence. His rationale isn’t entirely cut and dry, and Oscar Isaac describes his character’s motivation and background in detail in the following conversation.


Related: AFI 2014 Review: ‘A Most Violent Year’


He also discusses the surprising revelation that A Most Violent Year could be start of an ongoing series, set during the New York City’s most violent years – 1981, 1991 and 2001 – that would follow the trajectory of Abel Morales as he pursues his ambitious goals. It sounds as though the trilogy idea might just have been a way to develop his character, but the level of detail described – and the critical acclaim for A Most Violent Year – make it seem as though more films might actually be possibility somewhere down the road.

We sat down with Oscar Isaac the day after the National Board of Review announced that he had won their award for Best Actor of 2014, an honor he shares with Michael Keaton from Birdman, who tied with Oscar Isaac in the category.

A Most Violent Year arrives in theaters on December 31, 2014.

CraveOnline: Congratulations on your National Board of Review award. 

Oscar Isaac: Thank you.

Did they send you a board with your name engraved on it?

I don’t know. I think you do get a little board, don’t you? [Laughs.]

You should! I think you’ve earned it.

Yeah, it was really nice. Unexpected.

Are you looking forward to running into Michael Keaton and saying, “We’re exactly as good as each other!” 

[Laughs.] Yeah! I think we should make our acceptance speeches simultaneously, at the exact same time.

You are quite remarkable in this film.

Thank you, man. Thank you.

When you were making All About the Benjamins is this where you thought you were going to go?


I actually like that movie. 

In the commentary the director, Kevin Bray, says, “This kid is the next Cuban Al Pacino.” So, you know, maybe there’s something to it. [Laughs.]

Did he know you’re from Guatemala?

Well, my Dad’s Cuban.

Oh, so there you go.

Yeah, I don’t know why he couldn’t say “the next Al Pacino.” I don’t know why he had to qualify it with “Cuban.” 

Well, there was another Cuban Al Pacino, so you would be the next one.

Was there another Cuban Al Pacino?

I have no idea, I was just trying to justify it.

I guess Scarface was the Cuban Al Pacino. 

Your character in this movie, I love him. He’s trying to get out of this really terrible situation without losing his dignity. That’s something we don’t see a lot.

Hmm… Yeah, I think that’s interesting. “Without losing his dignity.” I think he’s… yeah?

He’s got a moral code. He doesn’t want to accept handouts from his wife’s family, he doesn’t want to submit to violence… he wants to do it right.

It’s interesting. There’s definitely that element to it. I actually didn’t see it so much as he didn’t want to accept it because it’s a handout – although I will say he’s definitely a Super-Republican [laughs] – I’d say it’s because he doesn’t want to get in bed with obvious criminals. I think that’s the distinction. He doesn’t want to be a criminal, even though… See? It’s very grey, because isn’t he fudging his taxes? Isn’t that stuff going on? Obviously they’re hiding boxes…