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Oscar Isaac

Oscar Isaac

Guatemalan-born American actor and singer
Oscar Isaac
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Guatemalan-born American actor and singer
Is Actor Musician Guitarist Singer Stage actor Film actor Television actor
From Guatemala United States of America
Type Film, TV, Stage & Radio Music
Gender male
Birth 9 March 1979, Guatemala
Age 41 years
The details


Oscar Isaac (born Óscar Isaac Hernández Estrada; March 9, 1979) is a Guatemalan-American actor and musician. He is known for his lead film roles in the comedy-drama Inside Llewyn Davis (2013), for which he received a Golden Globe Award nomination, the crime drama A Most Violent Year (2014) and the science fiction thriller Ex Machina (2015), in which he played Nathan Hamlet Bateman. In 2006, he portrayed Saint Joseph, husband of Mary, in The Nativity Story. He also portrayed José Ramos-Horta, former president of East Timor, in the Australian film Balibo for which he won the AACTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. He has portrayed characters of many different nationalities and ethnicities, such as mixed European, Egyptian, Polish, English, French, Mexican, East Timorese, Welsh, Indonesian, Greek, Cuban, Israeli, and Armenian.
He appeared in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), as X-wing pilot Poe Dameron, and in X-Men: Apocalypse (2016), as the titular mutant supervillain Apocalypse. He also headlined the HBO miniseries Show Me a Hero, as politician Nick Wasicsko in 2015, which earned him the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film. In 2016, Time named Isaac one of the 100 most influential people in the world on the annual Time 100 list.

Early life

Óscar Isaac Hernández Estrada was born in Guatemala, to a Guatemalan mother, María Eugenia Estrada Nicolle, and a Cuban pulmonologist father, Óscar Gonzalo Hernández-Cano. His maternal grandfather was French. Isaac's family settled in the U.S. when he was five months old, and he was raised in Miami, Florida. He has described his evangelical Protestant upbringing as "very Christian".

Isaac liked to cause trouble at the private grade school, Westminster Christian, when growing up. “I set off a fire extinguisher in the gym, defaced a mural, just stupid stuff,” he said in an interview. He liked to make kids laugh. At one point, his teacher had to screen off his desk from the rest of the class with a piece of cardboard. Eventually, he was expelled.

Isaac's entry into professional acting began at the Area Stage Company, Miami Beach, when Artistic Director John Rodaz cast him in a play. He also acted in Miami-based City Theatre's Summer Shorts short play festival in 2000–2001. While in Miami, he played lead guitar and sang vocals for a ska-punk band The Blinking Underdogs. Other band members included Nick Speck (bass), Bill Sommer (drums), Alan Mills (trombone), Keith Cooper (saxophone), and Matt LaPlant (guitar). The band enjoyed some success, opening for Green Day and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones Isaac spent his musical years living a "straight edge" lifestyle. Isaac, however, put his music to the side after being accepted to the famed Juilliard School's acting program. While a student there, he worked on one of his first films, All About the Benjamins (2002).

Isaac graduated from the Juilliard School in New York City, where he was part of the Drama Division's Group 34 (2001–2005).


Isaac made his acting debut in the 1998 crime drama Illtown, credited as "Pool Boy". Next, he appeared briefly in 2002's All About the Benjamins and made an appearance on the television series Law & Order: Criminal Intent four years later. Isaac garnered recognition in first major film role in 2006 as Joseph in the biblical epic The Nativity Story, opposite Keisha Castle-Hughes. He appeared as Romeo in the Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park performances of Romeo and Juliet and Two Gentlemen of Verona.

Isaac was awarded the Australian Film Institute Award for Best Supporting Actor of 2009, for his role as José Ramos-Horta in Balibo (2009). He had a small role in Guerrilla, Part Two of the Che Guevara biopic Che (2008). Isaac played King John in the 2010 historical film Robin Hood. He portrayed a security guard in the Madonna-directed film W.E. and starred in the crime drama Drive, both of which were released in September 2011. He had a role in 10 Years, in which he played a musician. He performed his own song "Never Had" in the film. "Never Had" and "You Ain't Goin Nowhere" were included in the movie's soundtrack.

Oscar Isaac performing at Universidad Francisco Marroquín, February 2015.

In 2013, Isaac starred in the dramatic comedy film Inside Llewyn Davis, written and directed by the Coen brothers, where he played a talented yet unsuccessful folk singer in Greenwich Village in 1961. The film won the Grand Prix at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. For the role of Llewyn, Isaac was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy at the 2014 Golden Globes.

He co-starred with Jessica Chastain in J. C. Chandor's film A Most Violent Year (2014), replacing actor Javier Bardem. In 2015, Isaac portrayed Nathan Hamlet Bateman in the science fiction film Ex Machina and starred in the 6-episode HBO miniseries Show Me a Hero, receiving universal critical acclaim for his performance as politician Nick Wasicsko.

Isaac co-starred in the epic space opera film Star Wars: The Force Awakens, released on December 18, 2015. playing Poe Dameron, an X-wing pilot. He will reprise the role in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, scheduled for release in December 2017.

Isaac played X-Men villain Apocalypse in the film X-Men: Apocalypse, which was released on May 27, 2016. In 2015, Isaac was announced to play the lead role in The Promise with co-star Christian Bale.

On March 30, 2016, It was announced that Isaac would be joining Natalie Portman in the movie adaptation of the novel Annihilation where he will be playing her husband. It would be directed by Alex Garland which would mark this as Oscar's second collaboration with the director after Ex Machina. Isaac will also appear in George Clooney's upcoming Coen Brothers-penned black comedy Suburbicon. It will be Isaac's second collaboration with the Coen Brothers after Inside Llewyn Davis.

In 2016, he was the narrator for the Nike ad "Unlimited You" created by Wieden+Kennedy.

In November 2016, the first episode of the podcast series Homecoming was released. It is a psychological thriller from Gimlet Media, starring Catherine Keener, Oscar Isaac, and David Schwimmer. Homecoming is a six-episode thriller that centers around a mystery involving a caseworker (voiced by Oscar nominee Catherine Keener), her supervisor (voiced by David Schwimmer), and a soldier trying to rejoin civilian life (voiced by Oscar Isaac). It has a script from Eli Horowitz (The Silent History) and Micah Bloomberg (Creative Control) and sound design from Serial's Mark Phillips.

Personal life

Isaac currently resides in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in an apartment he renovated himself. He has been dubbed a sex symbol, and "the internet's boyfriend" by multiple media outlets, most notably Rolling Stone magazine; of the label, Isaac stated that, "[The Internet] never struck me as being into monogamous relationships. It's very promiscuous, the Internet." Isaac is in a relationship with Elvira Lind.

He is an accomplished guitar player and singer, and has been playing since he was 12. Speaking to Interview magazine, he stated, "I don't know if they were all functioning, but I did play in a bunch of bands. I was sort of a musical whore, so I played in industrial bands, hardcore bands, punk—ska bands—all sorts of bands." Isaac also said that he "played guitar and bass. I didn't do much vocals, although I did have one band where I was the lead singer. But that was when I was in college."



Year Title Role Director Notes
1998 Illtown Pool Boy Nick Gomez
2002 All About the Benjamins Francesco Kevin Bray
2004 Lenny the Wonder Dog Detective Fartman Oren Goldman & Stav Ozdoba
2006 Pu-239 Shiv Scott Z. Burns
2006 The Nativity Story Saint Joseph Catherine Hardwicke MovieGuide Award for Film
2007 The Life Before Her Eyes Marcus Vadim Perelman
2008 Che: Part One Interpreter Steven Soderbergh
2008 Body of Lies Bassam Ridley Scott
2009 Agora Orestes Alejandro Amenábar
2009 Balibo José Ramos-Horta Robert Connolly AACTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Nominated—Film Critics Circle of Australia Award for Best Supporting Actor
2010 Robin Hood Prince John Ridley Scott
2011 Sucker Punch Blue Jones Zack Snyder
2011 W.E. Evgeni Madonna
2011 10 Years Reeves Jamie Linden
2011 Drive Standard Gabriel Nicolas Winding Refn
2012 For Greater Glory Victoriano "El Catorce" Ramírez Dean Wright Nominated—ALMA Award for Favorite Movie Actor: Supporting Role
2012 Revenge for Jolly! Cecil Chadd Harbold
2012 The Bourne Legacy Outcome #3 Tony Gilroy
2012 Won't Back Down Michael Perry Daniel Barnz
2013 Inside Llewyn Davis Llewyn Davis Joel Coen
Ethan Coen
Gotham Independent Film Award for Best Actor
Hamptons International Film Festival Award for Breakthrough Performer
International Cinephile Society Award for Best Actor
International Cinephile Society Award for Best Ensemble
National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor
Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Breakthrough Performance on Camera
San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor
Santa Barbara International Film Festival – Virtuoso Award
Toronto Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Vancouver Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Nominated—Empire Award for Best Male Newcomer
Nominated—Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated—Georgia Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated—Independent Spirit Award for Best Lead Male
Nominated—Iowa Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated—New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor (3rd place)
Nominated—Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor
Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Actor
2013 In Secret Laurent LeClaire Charlie Stratton
2014 The Two Faces of January Rydal Keener Hossein Amini
2014 Ticky Tacky Lucien Brian Petsos Short film
2014 A Most Violent Year Abel Morales J. C. Chandor National Board of Review Award for Best Actor (Tied with Michael Keaton)
Nominated—Gotham Independent Film Award for Best Actor
Nominated—Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
2015 Ex Machina Nathan Hamlet Bateman Alex Garland Florida Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor
Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actor
San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actor (2nd place)
Nominated—Austin Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated—Detroit Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated—London Film Critics' Circle Award for Supporting Actor of the Year
2015 Mojave John "Jack" Jackson William Monahan
2015 Star Wars: The Force Awakens Poe Dameron J. J. Abrams
2016 X-Men: Apocalypse En Sabah Nur / Apocalypse Bryan Singer
2016 Lightningface Basil Stitt Brian Petsos
2016 The Promise Mikael Pogosian Terry George
2017 Annihilation Alex Garland Post-production
2017 Suburbicon Roger George Clooney Post-production
2017 Star Wars: The Last Jedi Poe Dameron Rian Johnson Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
2006 Law & Order: Criminal Intent Robbie Paulson Episode: "The Healer"
2015 Show Me a Hero Nick Wasicsko HBO miniseries
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated—Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Actor in a Movie/Miniseries


Year Title Role Theatre Notes
2005 The Two Gentlemen of Verona Proteus Shakespeare in the Park
2005 Beauty of the Father Frederico Garcia Lorca Manhattan Theatre Club
2007 Romeo and Juliet Romeo Montague Shakespeare in the Park

Video games

Year Title Voice role
2015 Disney Infinity 3.0 Poe Dameron
2016 Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens Poe Dameron


Year Title Role
2016 Homecoming Walter Cruz

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