‘Harry Potter’ Exclusive: Jason Isaacs On Working With The Young Leads, How The Series Is A Gift That Keeps On GivingPosted: January 7, 2013
To be privileged enough to read such work like J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series at just the right time in my childhood is one thing, but to get the chance years later to interview an actor from the film series is quite remarkable. Growing up with these characters and having the books in both hard and soft cover (not ashamed), I had no idea that I would one day be interviewing Jason Isaacs, who plays the ruthless enemy Lucius Malfoy. But I did, and the experience will be just as memorable as the world Rowling created for us. During my chat with Isaacs, we discussed how he chooses his roles, what he thinks to still be true about Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint, and what it’s been like since wrapping in 2011.
“I would say my favorite book is probably the first one in which I was introduced, because I had such a good time making it. It was my introduction into the whole world and also got to work with the fabulous Richard Harris,” Isaac tells about working with the original Dumbledore before his passing in 2002. “I think now about Daniel, Emma and Rupert, and they are now very, very wealthy. And I just remember them—they were such sweet kids. They are still such sweet kids. And they stayed that way. So I have very fond memories from the beginning of it. The thing is, mostly I know it’s a giant movie franchise and people love the books and love the films and they know the world over, but from my point of view, and from all of us, there’s no difference going in and making something for the Internet compared to doing a $300 million action movie, or whatever Harry Potter cost. Harry, in the end, whether I’m standing opposite Oscar winners and doing a scene in a massive set with a cathedral behind them, or whether it just from a hospital bed, it’s you and another actor trying to be human…I know there’s a huge difference from the audiences’ perspective, but for me, it’s to tell stories honestly and interestingly.”
And that way of thinking seems to be across the board for Isaacs. It’s about the story and the role, not necessarily how big the audience. “Honestly, I have to earn money because I do it like a job. I have children and that sort of thing. But the truth is, I was never drawn to this business for money or the things money brings you. I just love telling stories. I love human beings and working out why the hell some people are nasty or nice or justifying themselves of jealous or fearful. Whatever, or fall in love. So, the things I’m drawn to are the things that seem to hope a mirror up to nature; something that’s human about them that I can connect with. I try to find things that clever people have written, and take all the credit for it!” he joked. “It’s always the story, the script, and the character. Even Shakespeare wrote dozen of plays about ancient kings and far away lands. Some are in strange and sometimes impossible languages to understand, and yet, when you decipher it, they are completely universal truths.”
Adding, “I’ve turned down many jobs that would take me away from my wife and kids for long periods of time. It’s not that I don’t think about [the films] when they come out. I’m always aware of deathbeds. I don’t know why, so morbid, maybe it’s because I’ve played so many killers. But I’m always aware at some point you’ll be looking out of bed and you’ll be thinking, ‘who are the people here? And do they care about me? How much time have I spent with them?’ You’re certainly not going to look at your check stubs or DVDs or reviews or awards.”
But, ‘Did your kids at least love your work in Harry Potter?’ clearly being the next question to ask. What about that series about a wizarding boy trying to take down thou who shall not be named? “No, they don’t give a f-ck!” he laughed. “The biggest thing for them about Harry Potter is seeing you can flush the toilet with your foot in my trailer. That was it. I’m a dad, so they don’t want an autograph.”
“I mean I loved walking into the room seeing actors I admired a lot and lighting and directors and the incredible building that they shot in, I thought, ‘God, I’m a part of this amazing adventure.’ I don’t really care, except that it’s good for them if everyone ever sees it. I wanted to keep making them because I think they’re great stories,” he added. “But with Harry Potter it’s something entirely different, which is everywhere I go little kids are excited about reading the books, first of all, and about meeting me. And we were shooting in Scotland and its freezing, cold, wet, and grim places, and I go outside and there would be a gang of people waiting hours in the cold to meet me and say hi. And they are genuinely thrilled. And that’s not because of any special skills. I’m not juggling hamsters for them. I just stand there like a lump and say thanks for coming. That’s a gift that keeps on giving, that Harry Potter gift.”
What’s also a gift? Isaacs promising, without being asked first, that he’ll give Rupert a call and tell him about his No. 1 fan. You know, the author writing this bit. He may have sincerely said it twice to be nice, but hey, a girl can dream can’t she? His offer was sweet enough, and gave this girl another memorable Harry Pottermoment.