Moon Knight Press Conference – Oscar Isaac on That British Accent, Ethan Hawke on Joining the MCU and More
As Marvel digs deeper into the MCU expansion, the latest character to get their own Disney+ series, “Moon Knight,” is set to hit the streamer on the 30th.and March. With Oscar Isaac taking on the roles of Marc Spector/Steven Grant/Moon Knight and Ethan Hawke in the Marvel Family, audiences are once again invited into a new, multi-faceted superhero experience.
The series follows Steven Grant (Oscar Isaac), a mild-mannered gift shop employee, who is plagued by power outages and memories from another life. Steven discovers he has dissociative identity disorder and shares a body with mercenary Marc Spector.
As Steven/Marc’s enemies converge on them, they must navigate their complex identities while immersed in a deadly mystery among the mighty gods of Egypt.
Related: Moon Knight Premiere Interviews – Oscar Isaac, May Calamawy, Saffron Hocking & More About Marvel’s Darkest Show Yet
During a recent press tour, Isaac, Hawke alongside actor May Calamawy and directors Mohamed Diab, Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead took the time to attend a press conference for the 6-episode show .
If you haven’t lived under a rock, you’ll know that Issac is no stranger to a franchise or two with the “Star Wars” and “Dune” movies firmly under his belt, so joining the MCU doesn’t seem like that. A big deal. His main motivation for wanting to be part of another universe with such appeal was to be sold on the idea of doing something a little different.
“When I watched it and we talked – Grant, Kevin and Mohamed as well – it seemed like there was a real opportunity to do something completely different, especially in the MCU, and really to focus on this internal struggle of this character, and to use Egyptian iconography and the superhero genre and this language to talk about this real internal fight that this person leads, also to create an indelible, unusual character, especially with Steven Grant.“
Hawke, on the other hand, is best known for his roles in movies that lean towards the indie side, but taking on the role of playing a villain who doesn’t have a few mental health issues made playing the role of Arthur Harrow feel a concept that he found too fascinating.
“Movie history is paved with storytellers using mental illness as the building block of the villain. I mean, there are countless stories of mentally ill villains, and we have a mentally ill hero. It’s fascinating because we’ve now reversed the whole process. So now, as the antagonist, I can’t be mad because the hero is mad. So I have to somehow find a sane madman or a sane malevolent force. It was an interesting puzzle for me to figure out how to be dynamic with what Oscar was doing. Mohamed was really embracing his mental illness as a way to create an unreliable narrator. Once you break the prism of reality, everything the audience sees is from a skewed point of view. Is it really interesting for the villain because they even see me as I am? It’s also… I think that was our riddle, and we found someone who was trying to save the world. In his mind, it’s Saint Harrow, you know? I mean, he thinks he’s going to be part of the big solution.
It was also revealed that Hawke, for the first time in his illustrious career, had signed on for the role without even reading the script first thanks to the freedom of collaboration.
Director Mohamed Diab said; “We presented the idea to him. [Hawke], but I told him not to read the script. It’s not that the script is bad, but when you work with it, you have to rely on it. Like, I think Harrow is his son, in a way; it’s a ping-pong between all of us but certainly his son. So to trust us and sign – he told me it was the first time in 35 years that I had signed something without reading a script. And he did.
Hawke commented “The one thing I wouldn’t want this whole conversation to go unsaid is that in my experience, usually when there’s a huge budget, there’s a huge amount of fear. And managers are incredibly controlling, and creativity is curtailed. In all my experience, with you Grant and with Marvel, it’s the opposite. You’ve translated your success into confidence and confidence to — yes, we’ll cook in your kitchen, but if we stay in the kitchen, we can do whatever we want. There was a lot of play and a lot of willingness to fail and a lot of willingness to have bad ideas.
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Being Egyptian, director Mohamed Diab was thrilled to help bring the story to life in order to give a voice and erase the world’s illusion of his country and give the story a more authentic feel of the real Egypt.
“What really attracted me was the Egyptian part, the present and the past, Egyptology. As Egyptians, we always see ourselves represented or the Middle East represented in a way that is – we call it Orientalism when you see us as exotic and dehumanized. Just showing us as humans, just normal human beings, through the character of Layla and even seeing Egypt as Egypt because 90% of the time Egypt is not the Egypt. Imagine Paris and you see Big Ben in the background. This is how we see our country. So it’s funny, but it hurts.“
Director Aaron Moorhead then commented; “Because we tried to make all of our independent films based on a new mythology. It’s something that came out everywhere. And you kind of think, oh, where do the new stories come from? And oddly, I mean, our big modern mythos are the Marvel movies right now. The great American myth now comes from Marvel. And a lot of other places, but it’s really cool to be a part of that and tell a story that’s actually about those ancient myths and things that we all grew up on.
Isaac certainly has his work cut out for him on the show taking on not one but three roles, that of Marc Spector, Steven Grant and Moon Knight, so what better way to prepare for one or more roles like that than to bring your own. brother to spare!?
“The first step was to hire my brother, Michael Hernandez, to come in and be the other me. It’s the closest thing to me there is on Earth. So he walked in and he was playing Steven or Marc, even doing the accent and everything, both accents, so it was really helpful to have someone who is not only a great actor but also shares my DNA to play with. t’s something that I hadn’t anticipated was how technically demanding it was going to be to have to show up and decide which character I was going to play first and then try to block that give notes to my brother, then do the scene, then switch characters, then figure it out.
Isaac also revealed his inspiration behind that British accent and the British comedy he cares about.
“I love English humour, like ‘The Office’ and… something that leaves flats: ‘Stath Lets Flats’. And there’s so much of that humor that I find so funny, and I thought there was an opportunity here to maybe do something about it. What if we made it English? And if Peter Sellers was approached with a Marvel project, what would he do? And so I started thinking about it, and that led me to Karl Pilkington from “An Idiot Abroad.” And not so much for the accent but just for his sense of humor where he doesn’t know – you know, you can’t tell if he knows he’s funny. And then I thought of the Jewish community in London and where a lot of that community came from and Enfield as an area and sort of attuned to North East London accents. And then I committed to it and found out that this guy wasn’t just about the accent, but also his shyness, but also his desire to connect with people, but not quite knowing how. So yes, Russell Kane was another – was he a comedian I listened to too?
As part of the heavyweight male cast, newcomer May Calamawy revealed her initial apprehension about working on such a high-profile series with a predominantly male audience, but was pleasantly surprised at the respect given to her voice, especially from of his senior colleagues.
“I’m relatively new to this whole process and this industry, so I’m lucky you’re all fighting for Layla as well. I just didn’t know I was going to be able to take the space to collaborate in this way, and then seeing that I had it, I think it took me a second to trust my opinion. I’ve been in this place where I’m like, I’m just gonna do what I’m told. Then I can look at the two of you, and that’s something that I really learned from you guys is that you throw out so many ideas. And even if we were like that doesn’t work, we would move in a direction based on the one that doesn’t work. They all really heard me. I think in the beginning there were times when I went to see people individually. Or I texted Ethan and said, “I really think we need a scene together.” And then Ethan came along and had this whole scene idea that now I’m like thank god I reached out to you.
“Everyone was responsible. I guess the main thing with Layla, I didn’t have this idea to take from this woman, it was just really important to me as someone who grew up in the Middle East that I take – the more I ended up taking of myself, the better – the easier it was. I wanted to find a story that would work with someone who had a similar conditioning, who would handle situations in a certain way. What would that look like for someone raised there compared to someone raised in the West? And it was confronting in a lot of ways, but when I felt good about taking that space, I felt like it happened more fluidly.
The series will arrive on Disney+ from March 30.