A real history of violence

This short 'recreation-documentary' was shown on the UK's Channel 4 in July 2006.

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A real history of violence

Post by Gillian » Sat Nov 25, 2006 10:30 pm

There's a great article up at the Guardian where Jason discusses his recent work on Scars ...

Does Jason Isaacs feel typecast? His latest character is far, far scarier than Lucius Malfoy

Filming the Channel 4 drama Scars proved a very 'real' experience for Jason Isaacs. The tiny crew and the actor parked their white van in the City of London and began shooting the pivotal scene where Isaacs's character confesses to his violent past.

Spotting the camera, policemen quickly swooped down on the van and threatened the permit-less film-makers with arrest. 'You can't arrest us,' they all protested. 'This bloke's in Harry Potter.'

Being Lucius Malfoy in the wizard film franchise has some perks for Isaacs but no one has a magic wand for instant celebrity. Despite consistent employment since his film debut in The Tall Guy in 1989 and a major role in Lynda La Plante's landmark 1992 TV series Civvies, his career has reached a new peak because, in one of those happy coincidences of scheduling, Isaacs can be found headlining in three acclaimed TV dramas at once.

The six-part BBC conspiracy thriller The State Within, in which he plays the besieged British Ambassador to Washington DC, is reaching a climax. His stylish American gangster series Brotherhood which earned him rave reviews in the US, sees his face all over cable channel FX and thousands of billboards. But the work he is most proud of is the hour-long Scars, a violent, near-monologue of a film about a London hard nut admitting to his brutal past, which gets its terrestrial airing on Tuesday.

'Scars is the most overwhelming experience I've ever had,' he says. 'My first instinct was not to do the job - I'd been playing a tough gangster in America for six months and should have been coming home to do something lovely in a frock coat. In fact my wife told me not to get involved. But if you're a proper actor, you can't turn down something like this.'

Scars is based on real-life interviews conducted by the Irish documentary-maker Leo Regan, and it is a curious blend of dramatic monologue and fly-on-the-wall documentary. Isaacs is Chris, now married and a proud father, who feels the need to confess in gruesome detail to a former life of crime, prison and violence. 'I don't ever want to know who the real Chris is,' says Isaacs from his west London home, after putting to bed his two children, Lilly, four-and-a-half, and 15-month-old Ruby. 'Ever since I read it, I've been haunted by the script, and I imagine this sort of violence simmering on every street corner or pub in the city. My gut instinct is to pack up and take the kids to a quiet village.

'There's so much we had to cut because the lawyers were worried the stories might identify him, at least to some people, such as his victims or his old crew. All I know is, he's real and every word is his. I didn't change a syllable, and as an actor it was a frightening character to retreat into.'

Despite a history of violent roles, Isaacs is a genial chap with a wry sense of humour about his work - for him, playing the Dark Lord Malfoy offers light relief. 'I spent two weeks having a wand fight with Helena Bonham Carter and Gary Oldman,' he says having just completed filming on the fifth Harry Potter. 'Potter is a well-oiled machine now, whichever director is in charge, although it's a slow process working with all those special effects. But it's such a laugh - five weeks hanging out with Oldman and Maggie Smith and Michael Gambon, who's a right mischievous devil.'

Off screen this week, Isaacs is keeping similarly starry company on the jury of the British Independent Film Awards, joining Anna Friel, Damian Lewis and Alan Cumming. 'We all manage to combine American jobs with loads of work here,' he says. 'When I came out of drama school in the Eighties, there wasn't any work in the UK, basically. There was no film industry. Now we've got studio films, an independent sector and still manage to make great television. It's hard to believe it's the same country.'

· Scars is on Tuesday, C4 at 11.30pm

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/screen/s ... 76,00.html

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