A Guatemalan – American actor and musician. A gamble in acting and a private person with many admiring talents and surprises.
By MARIANA MEJIA
Óscar Isaac Hernández Estrada was born on March 9, 1979, in Guatemala. His parents are Guatemalan mother, María Eugenia Estrada Nicolle and Cuban father, Óscar Gonzalo Hernández-Cano, a pulmonologist. He has two siblings, an older sister, climate scientist Nicole Hernández Hammer, and a younger brother, journalist Mike Hernández. Isaac’s family settled in the U.S. when he was just five months old, and was raised in Miami, Florida. Before Isaac became an actor, he was the lead guitarist and sang vocals in the Blinking Underdogs band. Isaac started to play the guitar between the tender age of 12 or 13, which was influenced by his father.
“My dad always played a lot of music, so I heard him playing all the time, and then I decided that I wanted to learn to play guitar, so I got an acoustic guitar and started taking lessons. I wanted to be able to shred like Yngwie Malmsteen.”
He had continued to play his guitar throughout high school, and that’s when he created his punk rock band, the Blinking Underdogs.
After graduating high school, Isaac attended The Julliard School, one of the best acting programs in the world, and graduated in 2005, majoring in acting. Isaac commenced his performing career with Area Stage Company, a performing arts theater in Miami, and acted in City Theatre Miami’s Summer Shorts quickplay competition in 2000–2001. He additionally performed with his guitar and sang with his band, the Blinking Underdogs, in Miami. “When I came up to New York to do a play, I passed by Julliard, and I was like, ‘Oh, I heard of this place.’ I applied and ended up getting in.” But when he got into The Juilliard School in New York City, he changed his major and went into the Drama Division’s Group 34 from 2001 to 2005.
To this day, he has a good relationship with the owner and manager of Area Stage Company, John Rodaz to the point that he was one of the first people he told that he got the part of Poe Dameron in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And while he was attending Julliard, he made several appearances in 2001 in a television series called Law & Order: Criminal Intent. In 2002, he landed a small role in a movie named, All About the Benjamins. After graduating from Julliard in 2005, a year later, Isaac film his first significant role in the movie The Nativity Story.
“I always joked with my parents. I told them, If I don’t make it as an actor, my fallback is a musician.”
In 2007, he took the role in The Life Before Her Eyes with Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe. And in 2009, Isaac was part of an Australian film Balibo, where he played the role of José Ramos-Horta, a former president of East Timor, set amid the Indonesian invasion of East Timor in 1975; because of this role, Isaac won the Australian Film Institute Award for best-supporting actor. Years later, in 2012, Isaac met his big break when he started starring in the Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewelyn Davis.
“On a practical level, as soon as Joel and Ethan [Coen] cast me, the doors opened up for more parts…Basically, the next day [my agent said], we got these offers now. Now you’re bona fide, kid.”
During that period, he met his current wife, Elvira Lind; she had everything to do with his big break. In 2013, while staring with the Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewelyn Davis, Isaac received a Golden Globe Award nomination. “It was the role of a lifetime, and I just really talked myself into the world of the movie, of 1960s Greenwich Village, New York— the pre-Dylan, the great folk scene that was happening and into this character who’s both wanting desperately to succeed, and also desperately to fail. And then, on top of everything the character is, I was learning that music repertoire, which I wasn’t familiar with. I’d say I definitely found the character through the music. I think that’s the window into his soul, his only connection with the people outside.”
But back to where or how Elvira Lind met, there isn’t much to find out about it; Isaac is super secretive about his personal life. So, when they appeared at the 2016 Golden Globes, rumors shot through the roof about the “mystery” women he kissed, then a year later in 2017, Isaac announced that not only he was already married, but his wife Elvira Lind was expecting and now has two sons with his wife. “I’m definitely someone who is private. I’ve never been interested in celebrity”. As someone who is so private, his fame as a celebrity is rising, and many fans who watch the Star Wars series loved movies like; The Last Jedi (2017), The Force Awakens (2015), and The Rise of Skywalker; in 2015, he had also headlined in the HBO miniseries Show Me a Hero, as a politician named Nick Wasicsko and earned the Golden Globe Award for the best actor –Miniseries or Television Film.
“My job is still the same. Between ‘action’ and ‘cut’, that’s mine. No matter how big the production is, that’s still my space. That’s a sacred place.”
Along with some other movies like A Most Violent Year (2014), Ex Machina (2014), and in 2016 he starred in X-Men: Apocalypse movie as the mutant supervillain. When Isaac was growing up, he was an avid fan and collector of X-Men comics. A dream of later becoming part of the X-Men movies as the titular villain. A flexible actor in his own way, Isaac became acknowledged for immersing himself in each performance, whether an ex-con, musician, or historical figure, and he quickly rose up as one of the topmost considered hottest young individual actors in Hollywood.
“I like being a chameleon who transforms himself with each role.”
Although many other productions of Oscar Isaac are to come out this year. On September 10th, catch Isaac in the action-drama thriller film, The Card Counter (2021), about the story of an ex-military interrogator turned gambler haunted by ghosts of his past. It’s definitely a thrilling gamble, just like Isaac’s other works! That’s not the end of it either: Rumor has it that on Disney+, a new Marvel Studio Series Moon Knight (2022) is in the works, along with Big Gold Brick (2022), an American dark comedy.