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Why Star Wars Made Oscar Isaac Hesitant To Join Marvel's Moon Knight

For the better part of a decade, Oscar Isaac has been one of Hollywood's most in-demand leading men, most notably for his role as Poe Dameron in the most recent trilogy of Disney Star Wars films. He was also the all-powerful villain Apocalypse in the X-Men installment of that name, Duke Leto Atreides in Denis Villeneuve's "Dune," and will voice Spider-Man 2099 in the upcoming "Spider-Verse" sequel.

However, Isaac built his brand as an actor's actor with his performances in acclaimed smaller films, including the one-two punch of Alex Garland's sci-fi horror projects "Ex Machina" and "Annihilation," where he starred as a terrifying tech CEO and a traumatized soldier, respectively.

For his next major role, Isaac will star in Marvel's new Disney+ show "Moon Knight" as Marc Spector, an ex-marine with dissociative identity disorder who finds himself endowed with mystical powers from the Egyptian moon god, Khonshu (F. Murray Abraham). With the Marvel Cinematic Universe consistently proving out to be one of the safest bets in Hollywood for an actor looking to keep a high profile, it seems like taking the leading role in such a project would be a dream job. But according to Isaac, he had some reservations, and in a recent profile, he explained why his past success with franchise blockbusters made him hesitant to accept the mantle of Moon Knight — until he saw just how exciting this specific project really was.

Isaac didn't want to 'go back into that kind of machinery' after Star Wars

Speaking with Empire Magazine, Oscar Isaac reflected on his career alongside Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, explaining that after Star Wars, X-Men, and more, he "didn't want to go back into that kind of machinery" (via SyFy). "The last thing I want is to be on a massive set, thinking, 'What am I doing here?'"

"Often on these big movies, it can feel like you're building a plane on the runway," Isaac explained. Modern franchise blockbusters are notoriously complex affairs, especially for high-value properties such as Marvel and Star Wars, since they are planned out years in advance and rely heavily on CGI and VFX technology. The complex costuming can also be a pain. Tom Holland has noted the difficulties of acting in the Spider-Man costume, and while shooting "X-Men: Apocalypse," Isaac himself was subjected to a 40-pound suit that made him unbearably hot and took hours to remove at the end of each day.

Oscar Isaac says he wanted to return to more intimate, character-based acting, especially after the fraught response to the new "Star Wars" trilogy. "The idea of getting back to handmade films, character studies: I was desperate for that feeling." 

However, as it turns out, Isaac got his wish with "Moon Knight," a Disney+ series based on a very, very unconventional Marvel character, as known for unconventional stories as he is for his white hooded costume.

Oscar Isaac found the best of both worlds in Moon Knight

Oscar Isaac's excitement for "Moon Knight" transcends the expected elation one might feel at being cast in one of the year's most high-profile TV shows. Isaac has made no secret of his intention to leave "Star Wars" fare in the rearview and says "Moon Knight" is the kind of rich performance he's been searching for a return to. "It felt 'handmade.' And it's the first legitimate Marvel character study since 'Iron Man.'"

Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige chimed in to explain what Isaac saw in the role, saying, "He clearly likes this world — 'Star Wars' and 'X-Men' — but we hadn't found the right thing necessarily. We started talking about 'Moon Knight' and he had a couple of outside-the-box ideas that were like, 'Maybe this could work!' And spoiler alert: they do." 

From the trailers so far, it does seem "Moon Knight" is indeed a departure from a standard MCU offering, both stylistically and tonally.

"I thought, 'Maybe I can hijack this thing,'" Isaac said. "'Maybe this is the chance to do something really f***ing nutty on a major stage.'" Since the show revolves around a man torn between different personalities, terrified for his sanity as he loses track of the difference between dreams and waking reality, there may be no better character for Isaac to experiment with. "What I love most about this thing is that it's an exploration of a mind that doesn't know itself," the "Dune" star said. "A human being that doesn't know his own brain. I found that really moving: what the mind is capable of as far as survival."

With "Moon Knight" releasing at the end of March, only time — and perhaps Khonshu — will tell just how weird Isaac managed to get with it.