Jason Isaacs is the third eldest in a family of four boys born to Sheila and Nathan Isaacs. He was born in Liverpool, England, on June 6, 1963, and was raised Jewish, although he does not practice. His father, a jeweler, moved the family to London when Jason was 11 years old, where he attended Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School, in Hertfordshire. He has described his childhood as preparation for portraying the “unattractive,” villainous characters whom he has most often played, stating,
There is a streak of cruelty in me that comes from having a quite combative background. There were four boys in the house and we were pretty unkind to each other. I’ve been bullied a lot, sometimes by my brothers, sometimes at school. It wasn’t a great thing to be a Jewish teenager when the National Front were passing leaflets around the school.
While studying law at Bristol University, Jason found himself entrenched in the drama society, partaking in over 30 plays throughout the year, and performing every summer at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Once graduating from Bristol, he immediately enrolled in London’s Central School of Speech and Drama, where he met his wife, Emma Hewitt, a documentary filmmaker for BBC. They married in 1988 and have two daughters: Ruby and Lily.
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Like much of the adult actors cast in the Harry Potter films, Jason had not read the books before being cast as Lucius Malfoy. However, after his audition, Jason says that
I went off and read the books […] and I read all four books in one sitting – you know – didn’t wash, didn’t eat, drove around with them on the steering wheel like a lunatic. I suddenly understood why my friends, who I’d thought where slightly backward, had been so addicted to these children’s books. They’re like crack.
From that point on, Jason was very excited to work on the films, and once he got the part his excitement never waned. His first day on set comes with a great story, which Jason loves to tell.
I remember my very first day, I improvised a line. I had my first day, probably my first shot, I had to kind of flounce out of a room when Dumbledore, played by the late, great Richard Harris, put me in my place, and there was no line written, no exit line. And I’d been humiliated, and my plan had come to nothing. And I said to Chris Columbus, ‘Don’t you think there should be a line?’ And he said, ‘Well, say something. Say whatever you like.’ So we did another take, and I hadn’t told anyone what I was going to do. And as I turned to leave, I looked at Daniel, and I said, ‘Let us hope Mr. Potter will always be around to save the day.’ And then Daniel, who was all of 12, stepped right up to me, looked me right in the eye, and said ‘Don’t worry. I will be.’ A chill went down my spine. And as he did it, I thought, ‘Christ, this kid is good.’
As the movies progressed and Lucius started to appear less and less, Jason found himself begging even J.K. Rowling to write him into the series, and thus, the films! During a press interview for Order of the Phoenix, Jason joked with a reporter that
I fell to my knees and begged,” he joked. “It didn’t do any good. I’m sure [J.K. Rowling] doesn’t need plot ideas from me. But I made my point. We’ll see. Like everybody else, I’m holding my breath to July to see what’s in there. I just want to bust out of prison, that’s all. I don’t want to stay in Azkaban most of my life.”
- Who is his “favorite actor, possibly in the whole universe”? Harry Potter co-star and nemesis Gary Oldman!
- He appeared in the film Dragonheart, as Lord Felton. His character hires a dragon slayer to rid his village of a rampant dragon named Draco.
- He is fluent in Spanish.
- He quite enjoys not being the “leading man,” having said that “I imagine like most of us that I’d like obscene amounts of money but the people I met and worked with who have those obscene amounts of money and have obscene amounts of fame have awful lives. Really. I mean hideously compromised lives. And I can go anywhere. No one knows who I am. I can go on the tube and bus and wander through the streets. So I’m quite happy not to get the girl.”
- San Francisco Chronicle has placed both Jason and Lucius Malfoy on “Sexiest Men Alive” lists: Jason for “13 Sexy Men Who Are Real and Alive” and Lucius Malfoy for “The 12 Sexiest Men Who Were Never Alive.”
Connect with Jason Isaacs
Connect with Jason Isaacs
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