Oscar Isaac on How He Prepared for ‘The Promise’

“You allow yourself to let go of the responsibility of having to hit anything.” – Oscar Isaac on Acting

Oscar Isaac has the good fortune to say he has appeared in films directed by Ridley Scott (Robin Hood), Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive), the Coen Brothers (Inside Llewyn Davis), J.C. Chandor (A Most Violent Year)… and that’s on top of also appearing in recent Star Wars and X-Men movies. In The Promise, Isaac worked with another acclaimed director, Oscar-winner Terry George. The film focuses on Mikael, an Armenian medical student who is caught up in the events of the Armenian Genocide. In an interview with NME, Isaac spoke about the importance of portraying a character in one of the most deadly — and in many cases unrecognized — periods of 20th century history.

When asked how preparing for this role is different than his other performances, Isaac says, “You allow yourself to let go of the responsibility of having to hit anything. It’s a scary thing to do but you know what? If you’re trying to get a scene right it just might not happen. We might all be up here on a mountain and it won’t be worth filming what comes out. Once you allow that it takes the pressure off and you can be a little more honest in your process. I read a lot about the events portrayed in the film and listened to the stories of survivors who saw grandmothers bayoneted, dead babies left under trees, mass rapes and people being marched out into the desert to their execution. Hearing them describe these horrors first hand was humbling. So, when you’re in that moment in the scene you don’t have to try so hard to imagine what these people suffered. On the day I had to stay easy and loose but also concentrated. It’s a very different experience to shooting X-Men: Apocalypse.”