Published: Wednesday, 05 January 2022 12:11 | Written by Jamie Ruby
Tonight, CBS premieres the new medical drama Good Sam, which follows heart surgeon Dr. Sam Griffith (Sophia Bush), who takes on the role of chief of surgery after her boss and father, the arrogant Dr. Rob “Griff” Griffith, played by Jason Isaacs, falls into a coma. Upon his return, Griff, unable to accept his daughter’s new authority, goes toe to toe with Sam, defying and questioning her at every turn.
One of the things that was of interest to Isaacs in taking on the role of Griffith was the father-daughter relationship. When asked about his reason for joining the cast during a recent exclusive interview with Jamie Ruby of SciFi Vision, the actor talked about his relationship with his own daughters who are now becoming adults. “I've got teenage daughters, one's nineteen, and that whole thing of letting go of thinking that you are the puppet master and realizing that they're surpassed you in navigating the world…just that at the heart of this was the father and daughter [relationship].”
Isaacs was also interested in the role because of the showrunners. “[Katie Wech]’s running it in such a different style from any of the men I've ever encountered in such an extraordinary way, and she gives out such a collaborative energy…Just having spoken to her and engaged with her, I wanted to jump in and see what the experience was like.”
The actor also talked about enjoying the complexities of the series. “[T]he scripts and the dilemmas are far too engaging and human to make it simple,” said Isaacs. “[Griff]'s not wrong. He's barely wrong about anything. He's right about many things. So is [Sam], and they're both wrong. And if we're lucky, and we do the stories right, they're not only engaging and moving and funny, or whatever they are, but when they finish, there's something to talk about, and there's something to argue about, and there's something to be confused about.”
Isaacs continued that as much as there is the medical aspect of the series, it’s not necessarily what people will be watching the show for. “It's quite fun to see the prosthetic hearts beating or lungs or spines, whatever, but that's not really why people are watching. They're watching for the human dilemmas, and the cases and characters are really there to illustrate or exacerbate or in some way contrast with what's going on with the people.”
Isaacs is known for playing deliciously evil villains, but he doesn’t consider characters “good” or bad;” to them, what they do is justified. The actor is interested in playing the characters as long as he finds truth in them. “There are characters that are often driving the plot or peril or providing danger or antagonism, but I only want to play them if I believe them.”
Griffith, although not a villain, per se, is a piece of work. He is egotistical and does not like working under his daughter, but he also knows what he’s doing. “He knows more medically,” says Isaacs, “and he knows more about the way people work and how to get the most money from donors and how to run a big medical department. So, I have no doubt in my mind when I'm him that I'm the right person to be running this department.
“…I absolutely believe this guy and his arrogance. He’s childish, and he's all those things that frankly, he's earned the right to be. So, that makes him fun to play.”
Another character, who is a villain, and perhaps the one he’s known for the most, is Lucius Malfoy from the hugely popular Harry Potter franchise. It’s been over twenty years since the first of the films was released in theaters, and as such, HBO Max is currently streaming a special to commemorate it: Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts. Although Isaacs is featured in and filmed interviews for the special, he did not attend in person, as he was in Toronto filming at the time. According to the actor, however, for him, the reunion isn’t what’s important. “[F]or me, Harry Potter has never stopped being a huge part of my life,” said Isaacs, “only because other people want to talk about it so much, because it's mattered so much to so many people. It's been a huge part of their lives, and now people's children's lives. But those characters and their stories and their dilemmas and their resolutions, their friendships, their loyalties have really inspired people and saved people…people still read the books and still watch the films and still take strength and comfort and inspiration from it, and that has not in any way abated for twenty years, and it looks like it’s not [about to] any time soon.”
The actor did speak to Tom Felton, who plays his son Draco in the films, who most of his scenes in the movies are with. According to Isaacs, Draco is actually the true hero of the story. “I figured my job, in all those films, in the stories, was to make that human, to make people understand why Draco was such a bully, why Draco was the real hero of all the stories, because he broke the chains…[I]n the end, something about Draco’s sense of natural justice and what was right broke through all the conditioning and all the training and everything he'd ever been prepared for, which I thought was immeasurably heroic.”
Isaac’s own character, of course, was the driving force behind his son’s racism, and he likens Lucius to a right-wing politician. “There wasn't really a mystery to Lucius…he wanted to ‘make Hogwarts great again.’ There was this man who thought that people like him and people with his pure blood should rule the world… And for all of his arrogance and superiority and frankly, thinly veiled [metaphor] of his racism, Lucius was a coward; Lucius was so desperate for status, that he was prepared to give his own family up for it, and it was so repulsive, so transparent, even to Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes), that he was rejected, and as I saw it, castrated at his own dining room table when his wand was snapped…I think he was a pretty open book and got what he deserved.”
The actor has many other credits to his name, but admits that there are still always things to learn, including getting the tone right, which can be difficult. “Everything that you do has a completely different tone to it. So, it's getting it right...and finding the tone of the piece.”
According to Isaacs, it’s all about what’s not on the page. “There's a misconception of what acting is,” said the actor. “It's not learning the things that are on the page, the scripts that come; it's not learning the words or doing those actions. It's, why are you saying those things? What does it mean?...It's the hidden fault lines of human behavior; it's the stuff we lie to ourselves about, the stuff we're hiding from other people, how we're trying to manipulate each other.
“…So, it's making sure that when they say ‘action,’ it’s not that you're doing what's on the page, but that you're doing all the things that aren't on the page, and that's continually difficult, because you have to be both.”
The actor also referred to himself as an “agent of chaos” as he doesn’t like to plan how scenes will go, unlike some of the younger performers on Good Sam.
Besides Good Sam and Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts, Isaacs has a lot of other projects in the works as well as ones recently available, such as the film Mass. “It's a beautiful film about the necessary power of forgiveness, of relieving yourself of the burden of hate and blame, how it only poisons you.”
For more from the interview, including fun facts and tidbits such as how the cast of Good Sam practices around fake bodies outside of filming, how he sometimes keeps an American accent outside of work, what it’s like having Funko Pops and action figures of your characters, how Death Eater masks were added digitally in the Harry Potter Films, as well as how The OA still lives on for the writers and how he’d love to make more Dark Crystal, be sure to check out highlights from the interview as well as the full transcript below.
Good Sam, Mass, The OA highlights
Harry Potter highlights
SCIFI VISION: Thank you for talking to me. I appreciate it. It's been a while since I've talked to you. I think the last interview was for Dark Crystal that I talked to you.
JASON ISAACS: Oh, Jesus. Yeah, that's awhile…I was so hoping we were gonna do more Dark Crystals. I mean, it was unbelievably labor intensive. Poor Louis [Leterrier], aged about two hundred years making it; I can't imagine. They're the world's greatest puppeteers on this gigantic set. So, I'm not surprised that there was an appetite for more of it, but I loved it. Yeah, hopefully there will be more.
Starting with Good Sam, what was it about the role or the script that made you think you had to do it? I've got teenage daughters, one's nineteen, and that whole thing of letting go of thinking that you are the puppet master and realizing that they're surpassed you in navigating the world, and they look at you, like some kind of anti-diluvian fossil, and just that at the heart of this was the father and daughter.
Also the raging debate all around that, you know, “should all white men be running things and should they be moving aside, even if they're experienced and able,” and [those] kind of live debates that I've had so often with so many of my friends and family and daughters, you know, to see that made flesh in a medical drama.
Also, not just the subject matter, but the people running it. Katie [Wech], [for] example, this brilliant young woman who is not only running it - because when you’re a showrunner on a show, you don’t just write the scripts; you are the queen of the kingdom. You have hundreds of employees - and she's running it in such a different style from any of the men I've ever encountered in such an extraordinary way, and she gives out such a collaborative energy. I don't want to oversimplify the notion that all women lead in the same way, but she herself, specifically, is this most extraordinarily inspiring leader. Just having spoken to her and engaged with her, I wanted to jump in and see what the experience was like, and it's such an entirely different flavor and an entirely different work atmosphere. I'm loving it, and I'm appreciating that it reflects what the scripts are about and this discussion going on society. I've seen the pilot, and I'm liking it so far…Is there any one you kind of thought about as you were creating the character, not just the character, but also as part of their relationship together? Because I remember at the TCA panel Sophie saying that you're completely opposite, obviously, in your in your real life with with your own daughters. So, kind of, were you thinking about anyone as you were creating him?
Look, all of us are opposites inside ourselves. She's right. She sees me with my daughters, and I do pretty much whatever my wife, daughters, mother-in-law, and dog tell me and always have and recognize their superior sense of understanding of other people in the world.
But there is some part of me that resists it all. I contain multitudes like we all do.
I'm around and operating in a world where old white men who've run the roost for a long time and still do to a huge extent are being replaced, and there's a continual discussion about, “is the pendulum over correcting that discussion around that disgusting word ‘woke?’ ” That just means sensitive, as far as I understand it, political correctness, which means trying not to be offensive. But nonetheless, that discussion around what one can and can't say and who should and shouldn't run things and what leadership means and when mentoring is bullying and when kindness is weakness, those are live debates continually in the world of work - and how to be a parent and how to be a parent of young women who are changing from teenagers, you know, my daughters who are changing from teenagers into young women. It's a raging sea of confusing decisions, and I get to dive into it in the workplace, and if I'm lucky, bring some of Katie's wisdom home to my kitchen table.
Okay, just don't act like him to your family. [laughs]
Yeah, sorry. The question was, is there anybody, and the answer is, “yes, there are a ton of people,” and the scripts and the dilemmas are far too engaging and human to make it simple. He's not wrong. He's barely wrong about anything. He's right about many things. So is [Sam], and they're both wrong. And if we're lucky, and we do the stories right, they're not only engaging and moving and funny, or whatever they are, but when they finish, there's something to talk about, and there's something to argue about, and there's something to be confused about.
Yes, I definitely like how you’re kind of siding with both of them at once trying to figure out who's actually right, and they're both right and both wrong.
Well, particularly with doctors - you know, I'm older than you and older than many of the viewers maybe, and I've had various health scares, and certainly been around family members with health scares. Some people want their doctors to be very sensitive, like their best friend or family member, and some times you just want them to give you the facts. You don't care that they're upset. You don’t want their compassion; it's not their tragedy, and they shouldn't pretend that it is.
So, one of the dilemmas in our show is that I think that Sam needs to toughen up, give people the facts and not allow their existential crises to touch her. I think it'll make her a worse doctor, and it will give her a shorter lifespan as a doctor, if she carries the losses home, if she doesn't cauterize herself against other people's emotional crises and doesn't walk in their shoes. Not that she should be less empathetic, but she needs to be more objective. Not everybody wants that as a patient.
But there are strong arguments to be made that if you’re a doctor, particularly heart surgeons, they're not like normal surgeons, something goes wrong with the operation, even when it often goes right, you will lose a certain amount of people; they will die, because the heart is the one organ that if it fails, you're done for, and she's going to lose people. She needs also to marshal the resources. Her brother’s a doctor; her various relatives are in the medical profession. You need to marshal your resources, properly and appropriately. You can't throw everything at individual patients because you feel like, you know, give them a one in a million shot. It won't help the other people who need help.
So, there's a certain hardness of heart you need to develop in the workplace in order to do your job well, and I don't think she's got it yet, but that's one of the things that hopefully will keep the audience engaged and wondering whether I'm right or not. They'll occasionally be people who hopefully will think I'm right.
The other thing I want to ask you - and I know some of the other actors got to talk about this as a panel, but you really didn't - do you have a hard time remembering and saying kind of the hard [medical] jargon and also even maybe [pretending to perform] procedures and making them look accurate? Because it does seem like from what you all were saying that you're definitely trying to be medically accurate?
Yeah, we've got medical advisors and those people at hand. There’re actually surgeons who do the close-up hand stuff, but nobody watches for that. It's quite fun to see the prosthetic hearts beating or lungs or spines, whatever, but that's not really why people are watching. They're watching for the human dilemmas, and the cases and characters are really there to illustrate or exacerbate or in some way contrast with what's going on with the people.
No, I don't. I mean, there're not that many medical words. We don't bother using them, because there's no point alienating the audience at home. And the great thing about filming is, if you get it wrong, you just go again, and you get it wrong, and you go again. You just keep going until you get it right. And if you can't get it right, you’ve got a mask on, so you do it later, particularly in the operating theater.
No, the stuff that we practice is not the minutiae of the operation, because you only get to cut to that for a very small period of time. It's working seamlessly together. It's a dance; it's an elaborate and beautiful dance [in] wordlessly the way they pass the tools and instruments to each other and hold pieces of the body for each other and swab things down, and we practice. And again, A, we practice and B, you can cut. It's not like we're doing great big, long Fred and Ginger dance routines. So, we both practice it.
Actually, funnily enough, we get together on Sundays often, because it's fun. We're all away from home, and we meet and cook and talk through the script and any fun stuff that happens off camera, any of things we refer to and any things we haven't got time to do on set. And when we're not filming, we all get together and practice around the fake bodies with the medical advisors.
So, no I don’t find that stuff hard. It's part of the fun of the show. We're doing a medical show, and we get to walk in fake doctors’ shoes.
What's hilarious is how some of the cast members think that they could actually do these operations, because they can do it [laughs] on screen. Like me thinking, because I've played soldiers a few times that I wouldn't be curled up in a ball crying for my mum under the table should real bullets start flying. But anyway, it's not for me to burst their bubble.
I would just say, if you're a member of the public and you're on a plane, and there's a medical crisis, and you see one of the cast of Good Sam, don’t be calling to ask for help.
[laughs] Is there something though, that you do find difficult? You've done so many roles by now, maybe you don’t.
Yeah, I mean, acting is difficult. There's a misconception of what acting is. It's not learning the things that are on the page, the scripts that come; it's not learning the words or doing those actions. It's, why are you saying those things? What does it mean? What's really going on for you? No one's interested in anybody saying what they mean; you'd switch that off in two seconds, or in problems between people getting resolved by them having lovely clear conversations. It's the hidden fault lines of human behavior; it's the stuff we lie to ourselves about, the stuff we're hiding from other people, how we're trying to manipulate each other.
And remember, you shoot all these scenes out of order, and you only get the script the week that you're shooting it. So, you're not quite sure where the character’s secrets are, and where they are. So, it's making sure that when they say “action,” it’s not that you're doing what's on the page, but that you're doing all the things that aren't on the page, and that's continually difficult, because you have to be both. You don't want to plan it. I don't ever want to plan anything. I never plan a scene; I don't know what's going to happen in it. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I know roughly what I'm going to say, but I don't really know what's going on between the human beings in it on the level that you're engaging with as an audience member. I have to go, “Wait, this happens at the end and this this, this, this and this will already have happened. Where will I be? What kind of mood will I be in? How will I be feeling about this person? How will they be feeling about me?” And then you improvise the dance.
So, the stuff I find hard is the stuff I always find hard, which is why I love doing it, which is walking in someone else's shoes. What are they feeling? What are they thinking? How is everything that's ever happened to them colored the way they're reacting emotionally to this moment? Those things are both hard to do and hard, because you have to hold them lightly. It has to be there, but not there. If you're thinking about it, you'll just be tense, and then you won't be an empty vessel for the moment to happen spontaneously. I don't plan anything, and that's very different to some of the other younger actors who have planned every moment meticulously. Then, I come in there as some agent of chaos, and we see what happens.
This is kind of related to that, but just thinking about it, because you've done so many things, is there still new things to learn? I mean, have you, as you've done this learned something, either about yourself as a person or as an actor, having been on the show?
Yeah, well, first of all, everything that you do has a completely different tone to it. So, it's getting it right, and I don't know what getting it right is, and finding the tone of the piece. Katie, who writes this, wrote Jane the Virgin with Jennie [Snyder], who runs the company, and that's a different piece, and what is this tone?
I'm in a film called Mass that's out at the moment, and it's a beautiful, incredibly moving, serious film; it’s utterly naturalistic. You're looking through the keyhole at these extraordinary restorative justice meetings where people try and find a way to reach human contact together and relieve themselves of a burden in life, and none of it needed to feel like acting. It needed to feel utterly real for it to work.
But then, I was in Death of Stalin a couple of years ago, which is a political satire. You need to find the right tone to make a comedy about the most genocidal maniac of the last hundred years work, be both funny and not offensive.
So, what is Good Sam? Where is it funny? Where is it moving? How does it work as a piece of drama? And that I always find I never take for granted, because it’s always different. So, I can't arrive as an actor who's been doing it for thirty-three years or whatever it is and just trot out, open my bag of tricks and go, “Okay, I'll take one from shelf A, one shelf B, and pull that face.”
And plus, when I play Americans, as I do mostly, I'm building it from scratch, because you can hear I'm not American. So, this guy's from Detroit, Michigan, and I need him to sound like he comes from Detroit but have the education he's got. Nobody else is thinking about the accent at all. And I need to find a man who's from Detroit but has had a certain kind of education, but his Detroit sounds come out again. I'm thinking about the accent quite a lot where the other people aren't.
And you said I think it was when I talked to you for Awake, that you stay in the accent all day?
Yeah. I mean, all day, it's now been months and months, I barely speak to my family, because of the time gap. So, then, I'm with the other actors often on Saturdays and Sundays, and I find myself sometimes thinking, “Oh I've been American all night. How weird. Is that psychotic me?” Because I'm American with them all day, and I’m America at night on the phone with people, and I'm aware that if I suddenly want to do English, it's jarring for a lot of people, and in fact, my mouth is in that mode, you know, like my tongue and teeth. And I know for anyone reading this, it sounds ludicrous and pretentious. I'm not in character. I don't sit in a wheelchair or whatever it is or spend the night in a jail cell, and I don't lurk in operating theaters, but once I've been speaking American for twelve hours, that's what I sound like in my head. So, I do that. And sometimes days and days go by, and when I do speak in my own natural voice that sounds strange and artificial to me. So that's part of the strange, unstable life of an actor who's on location.
I get that; that makes sense.
Not that he's a bad guy; he's really not, but do you enjoy playing the quote unquote bad guys more than the good guys? Because it seems like it'd be more fun, but I'm sure there're positives to both, but you're really good at playing [the bad guy]. [laughs]
There’s no such thing. There's no such thing, really. I mean, think the worst [people] I've had my mind around in the last couple of years are the right wing politicians who are encouraging racism and hatred of asylum seekers and division, and when I think about them, if I was asked to play them - I don't need to name names; you all know who I'm talking about in various different countries around the world, in Europe - They look in the mirror, and they see themselves as saviors. They can justify everything they do.
So, I like playing characters that I believe. Griff is one of the best heart surgeons in the world; he should be running this department. He knows more medically, and he knows more about the way people work and how to get the most money from donors and how to run a big medical department. So, I have no doubt in my mind when I'm him that I'm the right person to be running this department, or that my daughter is overstepping and is heading for disaster and is not serving the patients well.
It's when writing is bad and characters are doing things purely to twirl an invisible mustache at the audience, I don't take those parts, because I don't wouldn’t know how to play them. So, I don't see any characters [as bad]. I know you're doing air quotes for the word bad, but the thing is, there are characters that are often driving the plot or peril or providing danger or antagonism, but I only want to play them if I believe them. So, I absolutely believe this guy and his arrogance. You know, he’s childish, and he's all those things that frankly, he's earned the right to be. So, that makes him fun to play.
I’m going to ask you a couple things about Harry Potter, since the anniversary is coming up. I know the anniversary special is airing in January. My question is, when you kind of met back up with everybody - I'm sure some of them you may see off and on, I don't know, but what was it like I guess coming back to everybody being together at once? Did it seem like no time had passed, or did it really seem a lot different? I know, obviously, the kids have grown up quite a bit. [laughs]
Well, they're in their thirties.
They're not kids anymore.
They're adults. They've not been kids for a very, very, very long time. It would be strange if they were, that would be the oddest thing of all.
I wasn't there. I was in Toronto filming.
Oh, okay. Well, it says you're in the HBO special; you're in the credits.
I am in it. I did some interviews in Toronto, and I was texted and send photographs by my friends, and it was irritating. They had a great time. I spoke to Tom, because I adore him. He's the one I speak to most.
I mean, I would have been in floods of tears. I would have been helpless on the screen anyway. I'm sure they would have tried to catch it and I’d be trying to hide it from the camera.
It's a large community of actors, many of whom have worked together again, and many of whom I might see socially, the ones who are my age. It's not that big a world; birthday parties, weddings, divorces, funerals; we bump into each other at the theater. But the person I worked most with was Tom anyway, and Tom is someone that I've seen.
So, you know, I wasn't there. I wasn't there, and I'm jealous. I watched the trailer like everyone else, wishing that I had been there.
…The thing about Harry Potter is that that reunion of actors might be fun for other people to watch, but for me, Harry Potter has never stopped being a huge part of my life, only because other people want to talk about it so much, because it's mattered so much to so many people. It's been a huge part of their lives, and now people's children's lives. But those characters and their stories and their dilemmas and their resolutions, their friendships, their loyalties have really inspired people and saved people, and so the actors bumping into each other and walking around the sets is less a presence for me. And although I'm a little bit jealous I wasn't at the party, it matters less to me than the fact that people still read the books and still watch the films and still take strength and comfort and inspiration from it, and that has not in any way abated for twenty years and looks like it’s not any time soon.
Definitely not. I remember, well, now it's been a long time ago, seeing an interview with Alan Rickman where he had talked about how he was given like some stuff for [Snape], maybe that hadn't been written at the time. Were you given anything extra ahead to help you connect with the character? Was there anything at all?
I mean, there wasn't really a mystery to Lucius. There wasn’t much mystery to Lucius, because he was exactly that kind of right-wing politician who harks back to times before. You know, he wanted to “make Hogwarts great again.” There was this man who thought that people like him and people with his pure blood should rule the world, judged both muggles and Mixed Bloods and had that kind of arrogance of the eugenicist that really comes from fear that the world has moved on and that people like him have had their time and missed it. He wants to hold on to the trappings of power, money, and wealth that he thinks should give him privilege and that language of hatred and division. You don't need to look very far to find people standing on platforms like that, or even getting elected on platforms like that around the world.
And I figured my job, in all those films, in the stories, was to make that human, to make people understand why Draco was such a bully, why Draco was the real hero of all the stories, because he broke the chains. I mean, Harry (Daniel Radcliff), little goody two shoes Harry, was never not going to make the right decision morally, ever, but Draco was. Draco did repeatedly. And finally, in the end, something about Draco’s sense of natural justice and what was right broke through all the conditioning and all the training and everything he'd ever been prepared for, which I thought was immeasurably heroic.
And for all of his arrogance and superiority and racism, frankly, thinly veiled [metaphor] of his racism, Lucius was a coward; Lucius was so desperate for status, that he was prepared to give his own family up for it, and it was so repulsive, so transparent, even to Voldemort, that he was rejected, and as I saw it, castrated at his own dining room table when his wand was snapped. So, I didn't need to have hints from Jo [Rowling] about what was coming down the road for Lucius; I think he was a pretty open book and got what he deserved.
Is there anything that you kept from the films, any props or anything that you took?
I tried. I tried it was all bar coded. I complained for the first while about not having the wand, because I'd come up with the wand. It was my idea, the wand in the cane and all that stuff, and they had beautifully designed and made one, and I didn't get it. They sent me one; the one that the public can buy is exactly the same as the one we use. Unlike other stuff, it is literally the very same thing…So, they sent me one, which I probably lost, irritatingly.
I've now got just the one bit and not the cane, but what would I do with it anyway? I’d sometimes wheel it out for kids, or on Zooms, because they like to see it?
But it's always confusing for people that really love and believe the world of Harry Potter, that he's turned into this middle-aged man with, you know, short gray hair, who doesn't have an elf, but some reason has a slightly tatty wand. So, I'm not sure it helps the suspension of disbelief that I could wheel it out for kids who visit.
True. Speaking of that, though, and different things that they made, it's got to be weird having action figures and dolls and things like that. Probably fun at first, maybe a little creepy.
I've had action figures from when I started. I was in Dragonheart. I remember I was in Dragonheart, and I saw Dennis Quaid at some. I can’t remember what it was; it was either publicity for the film or it was some reason I bumped into him somewhere. And he complained to me, because he played the hero of Dragonheart, and I was the second villain from the left, but my plastic character came with a spinning battle-ax, and his came with a wheelbarrow or something. So, I vastly outsold him, which he was very upset.
But I've been Funkos and characters from Pixar films and from Star Trek, of course, and from Harry Potter. So, there are gazillions of them. There are none of them in my house, because there's no sign anywhere that I'm an actor, because when the first ones [came out], I tried to put things on the shelf, and my wife wondered if I was building a shrine to myself and how many people she thought would visit. That was the last time anything went on the shelf in my house.
[laughs] I can understand that.
I’ve been many - they didn't make a Lucius Funko in the first wave of Harry Potter films.
I was going to say, they did in the second wave because I have two of them. [laughs] I shouldn’t admit that; pretend I didn’t say that!
Well in the second wave there was three. There was one with the wand, there was one with the prophecy, and there’s one without, and I suddenly I couldn't pretend that I wasn't enormously relieved.
Yeah, there's one with the Death Eater mask, too.
The mask as well. Which, by the way, there were no masks when we shot. I was shocked when I saw that on film.
All right. Now I asked some people to give me some Harry Potter questions, to try to get something that was somewhat unique, because I know you've been asked tons and tons of questions. Hopefully this is.
I thought this was silly, but it’s actually kind of interesting if you think about it - and I'm going to add ignoring the ripping your soul part of it - The person asked me if you [made] Horcruxes, what objects you would choose? I thought about that. That's actually kind of interesting. The things that are maybe around you, that are important to you? Can you [think of any] off the top of your head?
Well, you’d want no one to touch it. The thing about a Horcrux is you want to put it somewhere in something nobody wants. So, I’d put it in an iPhone 1.
[laughs] You’re right, nobody would want to touch that I guess.
Maybe an old Nokia, that's probably got some classic value now. Maybe a Nokia 6350, a workhorse of a phone.
So, you've been in so many things. Is there anything still, like a role -
I’m old. That's correct. I'm old, and amazingly, I've worked almost consistently for thirty-three years, although every time I think, “it's all over now.”
I was just going to ask, is there anything that you still kind of want to do, a certain type of role or maybe a person you would love to work with or anything?
There're tons of people I would like to work with. Yeah, tons, but I also I love working with first time directors. You know, Mass was a first-time director, and it's one of the best things, if not the best film I've ever been in. So, it's always scripts. It's never really the people. It's always a script, and I just want to bring stories to life that engage the viewer, that make you think and make you feel, that make you deal more compassionately with the world around you. That's all.
Do you have any other projects that you want to promote besides Good Sam?
Oh my God, there're tons. There're a ton of films coming out; there’re a ton of films I'm going to make. Mass is out. It's a beautiful film about the necessary power of forgiveness, of relieving yourself of the burden of hate and blame, how it only poisons you.
We live in an increasingly divided world where blame is weaponized. It was by the last president and will be I’m sure by future politicians. And meet people. Those people you think are responsible for everything wrong with the world? Meet some of them, and you'll be amazed by how much you have in common, and that's what matters.
The only other thing I was going to ask you is, since you do get asked so many things, what's something that maybe people would be surprised about? Or is there anything? Maybe nobody would be surprised. [laughs]
Just how much of a child I and all actors are. If you come to the set - and you know, I play these authority figures; obviously I'm aging and now playing always - you know, I started off as a private, then I was a sergeant, then a captain, then a colonel, and now I'm always, I’m a retired general in army [terms], but that's true in all the parts. I was the father or grandfather of the lead actors.
[It’s] how much of a toddler I might appear, but it's schematic. I think, in order to do the job well, you need to have your emotions close to the surface and need to shed any of [that] kind of sense of responsibility of being grown up. So, anybody who meets me at work will wonder why a moron like this is let loose in a professional environment.
Okay. I do you have one more thing if I may, although I don't think you're going to answer this anyway, but I'm going to ask. Last time I talked to you, when we talked about The OA, you had said that you [were told] where your character was headed. Is there anything at all you can tell me about that? Since it's probably not coming back at this point?
I can tell you I had breakfast with Zal [Batmanglij] and Brit [Marling] recently in New York, and it was one of the most fantastic breakfasts I've ever had. I adore them, and The OA lives strong in our heads, at least; we have not put Hap and Prairie to bed, for us.
Fair enough. Now, people are gonna be freaking out that you said that though! [laughs]
No, just for us; just for us.
We are not able to move on. That's for sure. I doubt whether we'll ever have an encounter where we move on, and it looms large in all of our imaginations.