Jason Isaacs on the Future of The OA

Jason Isaacs on the Future of The OA

The Netflix star's spoiler-free tease promises more genre bending.

The Netflix star's spoiler-free tease promises more genre bending.

Text: SAMUEL ANDERSON

Though he may play a mad scientist on Netflix's The OA, Jason Isaacs is by-the-book in his no-spoiler policy. “I get stopped in the street all the time by people asking me a million questions,” says the actor.

People's willingness to chat up Isaacs may come as a surprise given his chilling delivery as Dr. Percy on Brit Marling's cerebral sci-fi opus, part two of which dropped late last month, but they would be correct to assume he has answers; as one of The OA's main returning figures, he says he's seen the blueprint to all five planned seasons. "That’s one of the things that makes the show so unusual; unlike [on] many other shows that are presented as a puzzle, Brit and [co-creator] Zal [Batmanglij] have the entire crossword puzzle [figured out]," says Isaacs. "I know the answers, but it’s got such a rabidly obsessive fanbase... They think they want to know the answers but the truth is they don’t. This season was substantially different than the first. I'd say it’s a different genre—its own genre. And no doubt there will be different flavor to things coming in the future."

Despite Isaacs's discretion, and the unpredictable viewing habits of the average Netflix user (including those of his interviewer), the internet has become a spoiler minefield for "Part II," which centers on the disappearance of a pro online gamer. "There is a mind-blowing ending and everyone wants to know what that means, where it goes, and what happens next year," says Isaacs. "It’s delightful and infuriating because I don’t want to tell them, and I certainly don’t like the fact that everyone is talking about it on social media. Because if you are interested in the show you shouldn’t read a word."

Besides devising show's engrossing mystery, creators Marling (who also stars as the titular "Original Angel") and Batmanglij have indeed shifted the bounds of genre and form with meticulous creative choices, from rolling title credits 57 minutes into the show's premiere episode to casting indie musician Sharon Van Etten in "Part II." Isaacs's audition process was, by contrast, on the fly. "I was a replacement for someone who they had shot with already," he says. "I got a phone call in the middle of the night [to arrive on set]. I got off the plane and went straight to Grand Central station to shoot my first scene."

Jason Isaacs on The OA (Courtesy of Netflix)

But the show's creators were well acquainted with Isaacs's work, having watched his 2005 scene in Rodrigo García's Nine Lives, with fellow future Netflix kingpin Robin Wright Penn, "hundreds of times over the years." "People often ask if [Robin and I] were a couple, or how long we'd known each other. We'd just met that day but felt like we'd known each other all of our lives," Isaacs adds. "And then we never spoke to each other ever again—[except] once briefly at a Netflix party. We shared the fact that people are constantly talking to us about this one scene that we did 14 years ago."

After 30 years in the biz, Isaacs is busier than ever; in addition to The OA: Part II, he can currently be seen in Hotel Mumbai, about the 2008 Taj Mahal Palace Hotel attacks. And he'll soon dive into another Netflix dimension, lending his voice to the platform's forthcoming prequel to Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal. "It’s not CG; it’s all real puppeteers, but shot on a giant, Hollywood-movie budget. It certainly won't look or feel like anything else other than The Dark Crystal, 30 years on," he says of the 10-episode series. But just like the rest of us, he'll have to wait for the drop: "It’s an amazing thing and I'm dying to see it."

Jason Isaacs and Brit Marling on The OA (Courtesy of Netflix)

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