Óscar Isaac

On this date in 1979, Óscar Isaac Hernández Estrada was born in Guatemala City, Guatemala, to María Eugenia Estrada Nicolle, a Guatemalan, and Óscar Gonzalo Hernández-Cano, a Cuban pulmonologist. His father met his mother while studying medicine in Guatemala. They moved to the U.S. when he was 5 months old.

His parents became enmeshed in evangelical Christianity and enrolled him in Westminster Christian School, a Calvinist school in Palmetto Bay, Fla. He was expelled in seventh grade for a series of rebellious incidents, including defacement of a mural with profanities.

“The Hernandez home became the site of a kind of ongoing tent revival. Visiting pastors would come and stay with the family, play Legos with the children, and then hold services in the living room, where participants would often be so seized by the Spirit that they would faint and speak in tongues. … It wasn’t long before Isaac broke away from the Church; a ‘slow amputation’ is how he describes it.” (GQ, Dec. 15, 2015)

His first film acting role was “Pool Boy” in “Illtown” (1998). He’d had several small theatrical roles in Miami and played lead guitar and sang in the ska-punk band The Blinking Underdogs. The band had some success and opened for Green Day and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones.

Isaac was accepted into the acting program at New York’s Juilliard School in 2001. While a student there, he played Francesco in the action comedy “All About the Benjamins” (2002). He dropped his last names to be credited instead with his first two, Óscar Isaac. As of this writing in 2022, his acting credits number 60, including television (hosting “Saturday Night Live” and playing Marc Spector/Moon Knight in Marvel Studios’ six-episode series “Moon Knight” in 2022 on Disney+).

Isaac starred in the Coen brothers’ “Inside Llewyn Davis” (2013), playing a talented but unsuccessful folk singer in Greenwich Village in 1961. His performance brought him a Golden Globe Best Actor nomination in 2014, when he co-starred with Jessica Chastain in “A Most Violent Year” after Javier Bardem dropped out over script concerns.

He portrayed Nathan Hamlet Bateman in the science fiction film “Ex Machina” (2015) and starred in the six-episode “Show Me a Hero” on HBO, winning the Golden Globe for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film. Also in 2015, he co-starred in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” playing Poe Dameron, an X-wing pilot. He reprised the role in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” in 2017 and “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” in 2019.

Along with several other movie, TV and podcast roles in the latter half of the 2010s, Isaac played Prince Hamlet in 2017 in The Public Theater production of “Hamlet.” The New York City theater was founded in 1954 by Joseph Papp as the Shakespeare Workshop. 

A naturalized U.S. citizen, Isaac married Danish film director and screenwriter Elvira Lind in 2017. They are raising their sons, Eugene (b. 2017) and Mads (b. 2019), in Brooklyn. 

PHOTO: Isaac at the premiere in Los Angeles of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”  in 2015;  Kathy Hutchins/Shutterstock.com photo.

Freedom From Religion Foundation