Oscar Isaac has been enjoying a quietly successful acting career for several years, starring in critically acclaimed smaller films like Drive and Inside Llewyn Davis, but it won't be long before everyone knows his name. Why? Well, he's playing the title role in X-Men: Apocalypse and stars as a rebel fighter pilot in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In fact, Isaac was one of only three cast members whose faces we got to see in the first teaser for Force Awakens.
The X-Wing that Isaac is flying in the teaser is one of several ships that were built for the film, and which have been seen in leaked set photos as well as in one of J.J. Abrams' behind-the-scenes set videos. One of the selling points of the film is the healthier mix of practical props with CG effects (rather than relying foremost on the latter), which means that the set builders were tasked with constructing iconic ships like the Millennium Falcon.
"Some of my prep was getting a little ship and just playing in my room with it and thinking about the things I used to say when I was doing that," Isaac confessed in a recent interview with IGN, where he lifted the veil of secrecy surrounding Star Wars: The Force Awakens to offer a few insights into what fans saw in the trailer. Isaac also explained that the use of practical sets and props will (hopefully) help the film look as good in 2035 as it does in 2015.
"There was just so much love poured into it and so much care. The thing is, when you rely on the latest technology to tell your story -- and that's it -- that dates. It can date badly. Whereas, when you actually make the stuff, I think there's something about that that is a little bit more ageless."
Isaac recalled that Harrison Ford (who has a pilot's license) actually offered to take him flying before filming began so that he could get a feel for the experience, but in the end they never got around to it. Ford told him that it didn't matter much, since the experience of flying a spaceship in a vacuum would be very different to flying a regular plane.
Although the overall reaction to the teaser was generally positive, male lead John Boyega has been the subject of a certain amount of racist backlash to the first shot of the trailer: Boyega, dressed as a stormtrooper, suddenly standing up into frame with a sting of music. Amid the excitement about a new Star Wars was a bubble of discussion against about the "black stormtrooper" - some of which was positive and some of which was very unpleasantly negative. Boyega gracefully responded to the latter on Instagram, advising people to "Get used to it," and Isaac (who is Guatemalan) was equally unruffled by the backlash.
"What's great about it is, it's like, 'Are you a racist? Here's a perfect way of revealing that to everyone!' [Laughs] What I loved about the trailer too is, like, the giant middle finger of the first thing you see, right off the bat: John's face -- BAM! So it is, yeah, 'Just deal with it.'"
As for the really controversial moment in the trailer - the reveal of a lightsaber with two additional blades protruding from the hilt - Isaac is unsurprisingly in favor of it. "I think it's amazing... It's so cool... If Darth Vader had one of those, he wouldn't have lost his hand!" To be fair, hand amputation is a very real risk in the world of Star Wars.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be in theaters on December 18, 2015.