Isaacs Talks Voicing Ra's Al Ghul In Batman: Under The Red Hood
Was your childhood affected at all by comic books, or is the omnipresence of the super hero in Hollywood just making its mark on you?
I was slightly suspicious of the whole comic and graphic novel rebirth, because I wasn't any part of it and hadn't read any comics in so long. But I remember when I was a kid how addicted I had been to all the DC and Marvel comics. I had mountains of them in my room – you couldn't open the door. I wondered why everyone was suddenly (making comics into films). Then when my friend Paul Greengrass was getting involved in preparing the Watchmen a few years ago to direct, which then fell apart and it was directed by someone else, I had a look at it. I wondered why somebody I respected and like so much would be involved, and I picked it up and suddenly realized the things I had been missing for all these years.
I mean, as a kid, I was addicted to comics. I couldn't wait for every Sunday when my family and I would go and get fish and chips – that’s an English kind of junk food tradition (he laughs). There was a little shop next door that sold candy and had boxes of used comics. My dad would give me money, and all week I would look forward to rummaging through the boxes and seeing if I could find something that I loved. All those wonderful characters – I was addicted to it all. I would be dismissive of some new character – anybody relatively new I would dimiss as some pretender, but then I would get one of their comics … and then I would have to go get the rest of the series. My bed was propped with them by the end.
QUESTION: Do you understand what was at the core of that love affair with comics?
I just know that I did. In some ways, it's like asking why somebody likes chocolate and somebody else likes strawberry. There's something that works about it there. It's a combination of the art and the amount that your imagination fills in between the gaps. And the fact that the restraints and controls are taken off. When you make a movie, it's a very literal medium -- you watch the story, and it's as if you're looking through a keyhole. It's very hard to take people on a fantastical journey, but in these beautiful and bright frames you can take them to any universe you create. And 90 percent of it the reader does by himself. It's amazing in this generation that somebody has married all that stuff to actually very adult themes.
Maybe one of the reasons that I loved them so much is that, at that age, when you're a kid, you're not quite sure what the physical realities of the world are. It wasn't inconceivable to me that I might get one of these super powers soon. I might be bitten by a radioactive spider, or that I could someday fly, or be bulletproof, or whatever. I fancied that those powers were somehow accessible and within my reach. And sadly, as you get older, it seems less and less likely.
Does acting in a Batman film have any added significance for you?
Well, this is probably the closest I'm going to get to work with Chris Nolan (he laughs). Batman is such an iconic figure – he’s rather dark, mysterious, and a disturbed damaged guy. But there was always something very, very attractive about Batman that kind of pulls you in. He didn't have any super powers, and I think that was one of the things that makes him very accessible and relatable. It always made it seem that if you really worked hard, you might just get to be Batman – in the same way that, when I played tennis as a kid, I used to think that if I hit a ball against the wall all day every day, I could eventually be beat Bjorn Borg. For me, that's always a remarkable thing. I remember thinking as a kid that if I just practiced martial arts all day, and I got really good at the science stuff, and maybe made a few billion dollars, I could be Batman. So here I am … the closest I'm gonna get.
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