Most of Oscar Isaac’s work has been in the indie film realm, where he’s turned in excellent performances in movies including A Most Violent Year, Inside Llewyn Davis, and last spring’s Ex Machina. And while he’s been featured in major studio fare before, he’s stepping up to the plate in a huge way as the Resistance fighter Poe Dameron in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

We’ve mainly seen Poe in the cockpit of his X-Wing starfighter in the TV spots and trailers for The Force Awakens, so there’s not a lot we know about him just yet. But Isaac shared a few insights into the character when we chatted at last week’s Star Wars 7 press junket…

We’ve seen you mostly in a lot of indie films, but when you go big, you go big…

Oscar Isaac: (laughs) Yeah, I saved it up!

What’s it been like for you to step into this universe that’s been beloved for generations?

It’s been fantastic. Not only being a part of it, but actually getting to add something to it, getting to add a little color to this huge canvas, it’s a humbling experience too, especially as we’re here and it’s about to be released, just to see the magnitude of it. Because when you’re working on it, to a certain extent you have to diminish it all, in order to get through and focus and say, “Hey, look, it’s still just a movie and I still have the same job. I have to make an interesting, compelling, truthful character.” But then you really start to see the context of it in our culture and it’s massive.

Star Wars 7 Poe Dameron Oscar Isaac X Wing Oscar Isaac Interview: Star Wars 7s Loyal X Wing Resistance Pilot

We’ve seen a lot of shots of Poe in an X-Wing fighter, but beyond that how can you describe him and what can you tell us about him?

He doesn’t have any legs. That’s why you only see him in a cockpit. (laughs) No, you’ll have to find out if he has legs. But he believes in the Force. He is completely committed to the Resistance and to taking down the First Order. He comes from a long line of rebel fighters. And he’s a little rebellious. He has a bit of a problem with authority. He’s got a bit of a mouth that gets him in trouble sometimes, and he’s eager to prove himself as the leader he believes he can be.

Sounds like him and Han Solo would probably be good friends…

Maybe!

Going by the trailers, there’s also a shot we’ve seen of a pretty intense confrontation between Poe and Kylo Ren. I know you probably can’t talk about exactly what’s happening, but it seems like there’s some history between those characters…

Yeah, there’s definitely some pain happening in that moment for sure.

Star Wars 7 BB 8 with Poe Dameron Oscar Isaac Interview: Star Wars 7s Loyal X Wing Resistance Pilot

Were there any times on set when you almost reverted back to a child-like feeling?

Yeah, it was a constant flux of that, you know. It would come up and you’re like, gotta push that down and get through it. Because you’d show up and see Han Solo and Chewbacca and Anthony Daniels as C-3PO and life-sized X-wings and an actual huge Millennium Falcon right there – you know, it takes your breath away for a moment, and it was a challenge to just focus and not let that make your mind start to reel from it.

Next: John Boyega Interview for Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The film is directed by J.J. Abrams and stars Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew and Max Von Sydow. Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams and Bryan Burk are producing with Tommy Harper and Jason McGatlin serving as executive producers. The screenplay is by Lawrence Kasdan & J.J. Abrams and Michael Arndt.

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens releases in theaters on December 18th, 2015, followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.

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