Following the mind bending and often emotional exploits of WandaVision and Loki, it looks like Marvel are set to further push the boundaries of a superhero series with Moon Knight. The six episode series finally brings one of Marvel Comics’ most violent – but also most compelling – heroes to the screen, with Mohamed Diab and Synchronic duo Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead both directing episodes.
Ahead of the series premiere, Isaac joined co-stars Ethan Hawke and May Calamawy; directors Mohamed Diab and Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead and executive producer Grant Curtis at a recent press conference moderated by Entertainment Weekly staffer Devan Coogan. Here’s what we learnt from the event!
- Oscar Isaac roped in his brother to help him with the Marc/Stephen Scenes
“That’s the closest thing to me there is on Earth. So he came in and he would play either Steven or Marc, even do the accent and everything, both accents. So that was really helpful to have someone that’s not only a great actor but also shares my DNA to play off of. But that was something that I didn’t anticipate was how technically demanding that was going to be of having to show up and decide which character I was going to play first. And then try to block that out, give my brother notes, and then do the scene, and then switch characters, and then figure it out. Because one of the fun – I think maybe if not the most fun thing – about acting is acting opposite somebody and letting something spontaneous happen that you didn’t expect. But there wasn’t really an opportunity to do that and still having to try to find what makes it feel spontaneous and not all planned out. So that was challenging.”
2. And revealed the surprising inspiration behind Stephen’s accent…
It was set in London and when I asked why it was like the answer was we just have too many characters in New York – so
let’s just change it up, let’s make him an expat in London. And so I was like, okay. I mean, I love English humor, like The Office and Stath Lets Flats and there’s just so much of that humor that I just find so funny, and I thought there’s an opportunity here to maybe make something of it. What if we make him English? What if Peter Sellers was approached with a Marvel project, what would he do?
And so I started thinking about that, and that led me to Karl Pilkington from An Idiot Abroad. And not so much for the accent but just for his sense of humor where he doesn’t know — you know, you can’t tell if he knows he’s being funny. And then, I thought about the Jewish community in London and where a lot of that community is from and Enfield as an area and sort of listening to accents that are northeast London. And then just committed to that and found this guy that it wasn’t just about accent, but it was also about his timidness but also wanting to connect with people but not quite knowing how. So yeah, Russell Kane was another — is a comedian that I listened to, as well.
3. Ethan Hawke signed on to the role without reading the script – and approached his character as a riddle
Mohamed Diab: “When it came to the signing, Ethan is someone that is — everyone sees him as this great, legendary, independent film actor, and joining the superhero world is something big. So when Oscar first approached him and then I talked to him about it, we pitched him the idea, but I told him please don’t read the script. Not that the script is bad, but when
you work with him, you have to get from him. Like, I think Harrow is his son, in a way, it’s a ping pong between us all but definitely his son. So to trust us and sign without — he told me this was the first time in 35 years that I signed something without reading a script. And he did it!
Ethan Hawke: ” Well, the history of movies are paved with storytellers using mental illness as a building block for the villain. I mean, there’s countless stories of mentally ill villains, and we have a mentally ill hero. And that’s fascinating because we’ve now inverted the whole process. And so now as the antagonist, I can’t be crazy because the hero’s crazy. So I have to kind of find a sane lunatic or a sane malevolent force. And that was an interesting riddle for me to figure out how to be in dynamics with what Oscar was doing. And Mohamed was really embracing his mental illness as a way to create an unreliable narrator. And once you’ve broken the prism of reality, everything that the audience is seeing is from a skewed point of view. And that’s really interesting for the villain because am I even being seen as I am? And it’s also…I think that was our riddle, and we came up with somebody who was trying to save the world. And in his mind, he’s Saint Harrow, you know? I mean, he thinks he’s gonna be part of the great solution.
4. May Calamawy poured a lot of her background into her character, Layla El-Faouly
“I guess the main thing with Layla is, I didn’t have this idea to pull from of this woman — without giving any spoilers —
and it was just really important to me that as someone who’s grown up in the Middle East that I take — the more I ended up taking from myself, the better — the easier it became. Because I wanted to find a story that would work with someone who had a similar conditioning, who would deal with situations a certain way. What would that look like for someone raised there versus someone raised in the West? And it was confronting in many ways, but when I felt okay to take that space, I feel like it was happening in a more fluid way.”
5. Director Mohamed Diab promises exciting and authentic Egyptian representation
“The other aspect that really attracted me was the Egyptian part of it, the present and the past, the Egyptology of it. As an Egyptian, we always see us depicted or the Middle East depicted in a way that is – we call it orientalism, when you see us as exotic and dehumanized. Just showing us as a human, just normal human beings, through Layla’s character and seeing even Egypt as Egypt because 90 percent of the time, Egypt is not Egypt. Imagine Paris and you’re seeing Big Ben in the background.
That’s how we see our country. So it’s funny, but it hurts. So that’s really what attracted me. And I wish there was more rows here for – we had 1000 people working with us, literally almost 1000. And the most important one missing for me was Sarah, my wife, who’s a producer on the show and even was a partner with me in the pitch getting the show. I loved — I’m so lucky. I think it’s gonna be hard for all of us to find a better team and a better shepherd.
Moon Knight premieres on March 30th, exclusively on Disney+.