Although he dropped his Hispanic last name of Hernandez to avoid being typecast in Latino roles, this talented, multiethnic actor would have found work regardless of his moniker. An aspiring entertainer from an early age, Isaac initially pursued a career in music as the lead vocalist and guitarist for the Miami-based punk outfit the Blinking Underdogs. The band enjoyed some success, even opening for Green Day, but Isaac was drawn to acting and soon began landing regional stage work. During his very first professional theater gig at the Coconut Grove Playhouse, the stage manager made a joke about how none of the actors were good enough to get into Juilliard. The offhand remark stayed with Isaac, and when he came to New York in 2000 to appear in a play, he decided to audition for the highly competitive acting conservatory, just to see what would happen. Not only was he accepted, but less than a year after graduating he had won his first major movie part as an inept Russian black marketer in The Half Life of Timofey Berezin
, as well as a gig in the Shakespeare in the Park revival of the musical Two Gentleman of Verona
, playing a part that had been originated by his idol, the late Raul Julia, on Broadway in the 1970s. Additional film roles continued to show off his impressive range: he played Jesus' father Joseph in The Nativity Story
(2006) and the villainous Prince John in Ridley Scott's Robin Hood
(2009). Interestingly, Isaac's childhood might have helped him prepare for his role as Joseph: as a child, he once played a shepherd in a church nativity play.Oscar Isaac Fast Facts:
- Started putting on plays with his sister in their family's backyard when he was just 4 years old.
- Dropped his last name, Hernandez, to avoid being typecast as Hispanic characters.
- Is the lead singer, songwriter and guitarist for the punk band the Blinking Underdogs, which has played on the Vans Warped Tour and opened for Green Day.
- Cowrote and performed the music in the Juilliard School production of American Occupation.
- Made his feature-film debut in the 2002 Ice Cube action comedy All About the Benjamins.
- Was the recipient of the Grace LeVine Theater Award at the 2004 Princess Grace Awards, which honor young talents in theater, film and dance.
- Starred as Joseph in the 2006 Biblical film The Nativity Story; as a child, he once played a shepherd in a church nativity play.
- Oscar Isaac Relationships:
- Oscar Isaac Hernandez - Father
- Maria Hernandez - Mother
- Maria Miranda - Fiancée
- Nicole - Sister
- Oscar Isaac Awards:
- 2009 Australian Film Institute Awards: Best Supporting Actor - Winner
- 2014 Independent Spirit Awards: Best Male Lead - Nominee
- 2014 Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical - Nominee
- Miami-Dade Community College, Miami, FL; The Juilliard School, New York, NY (2005)