While filming Dune In late 2019, Oscar Isaac mentioned a passion project against one of the film’s main producers: Mary Parent, Vice President of Global Production at Legendary Entertainment.
It wasn’t a sci-fi blockbuster – a genre Isaac has come to dominate in franchises like Star Wars and Dune – nor was it a prestige series along the lines of HBO’s Scenes from a weddingwhich he executive produced and played alongside Jessica Chastain.
It was a comic book. About a cop walking around with a bullet hole in his head.
The result of that conversation is now before us. With the publication of Head wounds: Musfrom Legendary Comics — the publishing house of the Burbank-based production company behind movies like Dune and godzilla vs. Kong — Isaac, 43, is further diversifying his professional resume.
He’s no longer just an A-list movie actor and executive producer and star of hit series like Marvel Studios’ Moon Knight. He is now also a comic book creator.
Not that he’s the first. There is a long tradition of successful actors who use their strength to make comics. In 2021, Keanu Reeves co-wrote his first comic, brzrkr, published by the indie comics publisher Boom! studios. A decade earlier, Samuel L. Jackson co-wrote: Cold room — also from Boom! — which told the gripping story of a space villain who looked very much like Samuel L. Jackson.
The appeal is clear: Besides the thrill of getting ink splatters on their hands and seeing their names on the cover, in an era when comic books have become Hollywood’s go-to source for bankable IP, why not skip the middleman and get your own?
Head wounds has its origins in Lantana, Florida, about halfway between Boca Raton and West Palm Beach. There, Isaac made two friends at Santaluces Community High School in the early 1990s, Bob Johnson and John Alley. The three teens became fast friends, hanging out for hours in the trailer parks of nearby Boynton Beach.
“We started a band together,” Isaac, flanked by Johnson and Alley, said in a recent Zoom conversation with The Hollywood Reporter. “We would write music together, we would perform, we would make movies together with my father’s video camera.”
After high school, Isaac auditioned for Juilliard on a whim and was accepted. (Chastain was in his class.) “And when I moved to New York and we went our separate ways, we always kept in touch,” he says.
About six years ago, Johnson was diagnosed with stage IV non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Doctors had told him it was incurable.
“At first, I wasn’t really excited about taking the chemo,” Johnson says. “I put it off for years. Then they told me I had six months to live.” He started the chemo and it proved effective. “But all the while,” he says, “I was forced to look at myself.”
Johnson would lean on his friends during his battle with cancer. “The way he describes it was this ‘invisible wound that no one else could see,'” Isaac recalls.
The three clung to that idea and turned it into a story about a New Orleans detective who is shot in the head and yet lives. (There are supernatural elements in play.) He spends most of the mystery with a visible gunshot wound to his forehead, as an extreme version of Jake Gittes’ bandaged nose in Chinatown.
After the conversation on the Dune set, Parent introduced Isaac to Robert Napton, senior vice president and publisher of Legendary Comics. The imprint was launched in 2010 by legendary founder Thomas Tull.
“Thomas was a huge comic book fan,” says Napton. “That should come as no surprise, given that Batman Begins was the first movie that Legendary was involved in. He loved the art form.”
The arm survived the sale of Legendary to Wanda Group in 2016 — for $3.5 billion, the largest-ever acquisition of a US media company by a Chinese company. Joshua Grode, CEO of Legendary since 2017, is also a comic book fan, says Napton.
“Our mandate is to create original comics and graphic novels such as Head wounds and also aligns with our movies and our television series,” says Napton. King Kong, Dune and Enola Holmes (produced by Legendary for Netflix) have all seen their universe expand on the pages of Legendary Comics.
Napton read the overview Head wounds and immediately saw potential. He paired the trio with Brian Buccellato, a seasoned writer who collaborated on Batman for DC Comics, and suggested half a dozen potential artists. Isaac chose Christian Ward – an award-winning illustrator known for his cosmic style and use of acidic bright colors.
In the end, Johnson and Alley received a “story by” credit, while Isaac received a “developed by” credit. But it’s Isaac’s name that appears above the title, with “Oscar Isaac Presents” prominently at the top of the list. cover of comic.
There have been no conversations to run yet Head wounds in a feature project, but a different comic – DCs Ex machine (no relation to Isaac’s 2014 film of the same name), about a superhero who becomes mayor of New York City – was chosen by Legendary in 2020 as a potential vehicle for Isaac, under the new title The big machine.
“We’re still figuring it out,” Isaac says of the project, which doesn’t have a script yet. “It’s a huge, great story. Find out how that translates [to the screen] is the question.”
Meanwhile, Isaac takes a break from film and TV to return to his stage roots. He will appear opposite Rachel Brosnahan in the play Lorraine Hansberry The sign in the window of Sidney Brusteinwhich will be on display at the Brooklyn Academy of Music from February 4 to 23, 2023.
“And that’s about it for the moment,” he says. “I took some downtime to be able to do other things like being here with my friends and [Head Wounds] into the world.”
Beyond that, though, anything is possible – including the ability to climb back into the Millennium Falcon.
Asked if he would consider reprising his role of Poe Dameron — either in a… Star Wars feature film or as a Disney+ series — Isaac smiles and says, “Yeah, I’d consider it.”
“I would too,” adds his friend Johnson. “If he would consider it, then I probably should.”
Then all three friends burst out laughing spontaneously.