The Nativity Story
Guatemalan actor Oscar Isaac won the prestigious Grace Award from the MovieGuide Awards for his portrayal of Joseph in Catherine Hardwicke's “The Nativity Story” (2006), opposite Keisha Castle-Hughes. He worked with Radha Mitchell in “Pu-239” (2006), Uma Thurman and Evan Rachel Wood in “The Life Before Her Eyes” (2007), Benicio Del Toro in Steven Soderbergh's “Che: Part One” (2008), Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe in Ridley Scott's “Body of Lies” (2008). His upcoming film credits include Alejandro Amenábar's “Agora” (2009, with Rachel Weisz) and Robert Connolly's “Balibo” (2009, with Anthony LaPaglia).
The Julliard graduate also has acted in several stage productions, including “Two Gentlemen of Verona,” “Beauty of the Father” and “Romeo and Juliet.”
Childhood and Family:
Oscar Isaac was born in 1980 in Guatemala. His father is Cuban and his mother is Guatemalan. He grew up in Miami, Florida, where he sangs vocals and played lead guitar for his band, The Blinking Underdogs. Oscar is also of Israeli, French and other European ancestry.
Currently residing in New York, Oscar graduated from NYC's prestigious Juilliard School in 2005. He also attended Master Classes, along with Sir Ian McKellen, Fionna Shaw, Simon Russell Beale, Brenda Blethyn, Alfred Molina.
Oscar Isaac made his feature acting debut as Francesco, Roger Guenveur Smith's assistant, in “All About the Benjamins” (2002), an action/comedy directed by Kevin Bray and starring Ice Cube (also wrote and produced the film), Mike Epps and Eva Mendes. However, he then left the cinema to pursue his drama studies at the Juilliard School. While at Juilliard, he performed in “Macbeth” (starred in the titular role), “The Marriage of Figaro,” “Three Sisters,” and “The Birds,” among others, as well as co-wrote and played his music in the show “American Occupation.”
Following his graduation in 2005, Isaac portrayed Proteus in the musical “Two Gentlemen of Verona” (August 2005), adapted by John Guare and Galt MacDermot for the NY Delacorte Theater. Four months later, he was cast as Frederico Garcia Lorca in the Nilo Cruz play “Beauty of the Father” at the Manhattan Theatre Club's Stage II in New York. In 2006, he resumed his film career after writer/director Scott Z. Burns tapped him to play Shiv, a small-time gangster, on “Pu-239/The Half-Life of Timofey Berezin,” based on Ken Kalfus' book, “PU-239 and Other Russian Fantasies.” He costarred in the film with Paddy Considine and Radha Mitchell.
Later that same year, Isaac rose to prominence when he landed the role of Joseph, the father of Jesus, in New Line Cinema's holiday release “The Nativity Story” (2006), costarring Keisha Castle-Hughes as Mary. Under the direction of Catherine Hardwicke, Isaac won a Grace Award at the 2007 MovieGuide Awards, where the director won the Epiphany Prize. The $35 million-budgeted film grossed a total of over $46 million worldwide.
It was also in 2006 that Isaac broke into television with the supporting role of Robbie Paulson in “The Healer,” an episode of “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.”
In 2007, Isaac supported Uma Thurman, Evan Rachel Wood, Eva Amurri and Gabrielle Brennan in “The Life Before Her Eyes.” The thriller movie was directed by Vadim Perelman and the screenplay was adapted by Emil Stern from the Laura Kasischke novel of the same name. Premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September 2007, “The Life Before Her Eyes” earned mostly negative reviews from critics and opened in limited released in the US in April 2008. On stage, Isaac could be found playing Romeo in Shakespeare's “Romeo and Juliet” at NY's Delacorte Theate.
Isaac appeared as an interpreter in Steven Soderbergh's “Che: Part One” (2008), based on the life of Marxist revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara (played by Benicio Del Toro). The same year, he played translator Bassam in Ridley Scott's “Body of Lies,” which cast him along side the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe. Adapted from David Ignatius's novel of the same name, “Body of Lies” received mixed reviews from critics.
Recently, Isaac costarred with Rachel Weisz in the Cannes-screened “Agora” (2009), directed by Alejandro Amenábar, who also wrote the script with Mateo Gil. A historical drama set in Roman Egypt, the film will be released in the US on December 18, 2009. The actor will portray Jose Ramos-Horta in “Balibo” (2009), based on the true events of the killing of five Australian journalists during Indonesia's invasion of East Timor in 1975. Costars in the film include Anthony LaPaglia, Damon Gameau, Nathan Phillips and Mark Winter. Isaac is rumored to play Prince John in Ridley Scott's “Robin Hood” (2010). The upcoming drama will star Russell Crowe as Robin Hood and Cate Blanchett as Maid Marian.
MovieGuide: Grace Award, Grace Award for Film, “The Nativity Story,” 2007