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As pilot Poe Dameron in the latest “Star Wars” trilogy, Oscar Isaac has become an international star, and that clout also got him the lead role in “The Promise” (opening Friday), a powerful look at the Armenian Genocide.
Also featuring Christian Bale as an American reporter covering the end of the Ottoman Empire and Charlotte Le Bon as the woman both men are in love with, the movie isn’t lacking in star power. But Isaac carries it as Mikael, an Armenian medical student who finds himself a target of the Ottoman government when it begins to systematically exterminate Armenians during World War I.
“He had that gravitas and the talent of being a Juilliard-trained actor to take on board not just the accent but the cultural mannerisms of Armenians of that period,” the film’s director Terry George told Business Insider of why he cast Isaac. “He studied the village life and did a lot of research but at the same time had the talent to stand up with Christian Bale.”
Isaac talked to Business Insider about why the Mikael role will never leave him, what he learned from working with Christian Bale, and that time he did 25 takes of a scene with Carrie Fisher for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”
Jason Guerrasio: With a role like this that has so much history, is there a fear at all of being over-prepared?
Oscar Isaac: No. No. I think the feeling is always, “I wish I had a little more time.” But in the moment of doing it you just let that all go. It’s kind of like you see what stays. It’s like sifting through something. You just hope that through all of that material, that thinking, wondering, practicing, visits to museums and listening to survivor’s tales, working on the accent, that in the moment you let it all go. You trust that stuff is going to be there and it’s going to affect your consciousness.
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Guerrasio: Did you have questions for Terry before committing to the role?
Isaac: There wasn’t so much big general questions, it was more story things. Figuring out the character and trying to understand certain scenes and trying to basically get his ideas and his tone and what he was going af