Jason Isaacs Opens Up About the End of THE OA and How He Was Preparing for the Third Season
We (fans) are still reeling from the loss of the incredible series The OA. I often said it was the most original series I had ever seen, and I loved the characters dearly. I was so surprised by every twist and turn, and relished the completely new world the story thrust its characters into at the start of the second season, then again in the final moments of the second season. I couldn’t wait to see what this fall down the rabbit hole would bring to the story. But the five season plan was all cut off prematurely when The OA was suddenly canceled by Netflix. Fans were outraged. The creators, Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij, were rumored to possibly get movie deal, but Marling stated there was no way the story could be finalized in a two hour film. I totally get that, but I’m just so bummed. I am holding out hope for another studio to adopt it, but in the meantime, we got to hear a bit about what the series’ complicated and masterful villain has thought about the whole ordeal.
Jason Isaacs (The Harry Potter films) recently sat down with Collider, and talked about his recent role in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. While chatting, they brought up The OA, and asked Isaacs about the direction of the series, had it gone further. Here’s what he had to say:
Yeah, they mapped out all five seasons, when they pitched it, originally. They wrote the whole first season on spec, and it took two years to write it. I think that’s why the show had such a clearly unique voice. It was Zal [Batmanglij] and Brit [Marling], with nobody’s interference. You know that old saying, “A camel is a horse made by a committee.” It’s so much their voice. It resonated so much with their humanity, their authenticity, their beauty, and their desire for human connection. That’s why it’s touched so many people, so profoundly. That’s why there’s such a big movement now. There have been flash mobs outside of Netflix’s headquarters. The Save The OA people have taken a billboard in Times Square. I wouldn’t want their job. I don’t know what they base their decisions on. I respect them and I admire them for commissioning it, in the first place, and I’m so grateful that we got to make two seasons. But yeah, I knew exactly where the third season was going to go, and it’s utterly brilliantly. When they told me the end of Season 2, I went, “Wait, guys, are you actually sure? That sounds nuts to me. What can you possibly do afterwards?” So, they sat me down and told me, and 15 minutes later, my jaw was hanging open. I just couldn’t wait to get started making it. And now, it looks like we won’t be making it. I’m sad, not just for the fans, but for me, because I was at the front of the line. I’m such a huge fan of the show. I’m dying to see the rest of the seasons because I know they happened in their heads, and I so enjoyed and was moved by the first two.
He was then asked if he would have liked to have seen his character, Hap, and then the alternate universe Jason Isaacs, get some redemption, or if he would have been happy to just further descend with him. He responded:
I’ll tell you something, when invited in, I’m very collaborative. I have a lot of ideas, and I’ve had a lot of input on an awful lot of scripts, over the years, and with things coming up. With Zal and Brit, when they asked me, I said, “No,” and backed out because I didn’t want to sully them, frankly, with my voice and a bunch of my derivative and recycled ideas. What I hoped for, and what I thought should or shouldn’t happen, was stuff I kept to myself because they always had better ideas. What I was hoping for was them to play their story out. There’s nothing in there that was ever deliberately wacky or self-consciously surreal. The talking octopus is because they’d both read a book about the octopus as possibly being the most intelligent creatures on our planet. And the network of trees is because they had both read about trees being the original network of communication, sharing where nutrients were with each other, and such. Everything in there is something that I was careful not to burst the bubble of. Not that they believed it to be true, but they had created a world that I had no cynicism about. It’s an entirely un-cynical story, even though some of the characters are cynical. With almost everything that I’ve ever been in, and maybe everything that I’ve ever been in, no matter how well-executed and how well received it is, you can describe it to somebody and go, “It’s a bit like a cross between X and Y.” The OA stands unique. Even though there are only the two seasons, one of the great things about Netflix is that they’ll be around for people to watch, for a long time to come. Although Zal and Brit do hold the keys for solving and resolving the mystery in their heads, those two seasons, by themselves, are a towering achievement.
I don’t feel like he really answered either of those questions. But I still had fun reading his responses, because he was obviously as big a fan of the series as the rest of us who loved it! He did go on to say how he felt about playing the alternate universe Jason Isaacs, though:
My head was spinning, with what the hell was going to happen, how I was going to do it, and what it was. And then, of course, it’s not myself. It’s Hap inside of some version of Jason Isaacs, in a universe that they were going to create, so there was all kinds of fantastic potential there for that. And it’s a world in which Jason Isaacs is married to Brit Marling, by the way, which many people thought was true. They just were so smart at playing with those expectations, and coming up with things that were both interesting and clever, but also moving and human. And they changed the goalposts, all the time. Season 2 was so different from Season 1, and Season 3 was going to be very different from Season 2, as well. I feel sorry for everyone, and mostly sorry for me, that we won’t get to watch it.
Word, Jason Isaacs, word. And when he was asked if he felt the cancellation was final, he replied:
Netflix cancelled it. They are not making any more of The OA. Are we all moved and inspired by the fan momentum, and all of the people online, and the people demonstrating? Yeah. Do I know whether that could or couldn’t have any effect on it? I don’t know. I don’t work at Netflix. They’ve been great to me, and they make amazing shows. They’re in a tough environment, with a billion people making a billion things, all around them. I don’t know if they could change their mind or not. In my fantasy world, I get to do more of The OA. I think it would be unprofessional of me to be marching outside of Netflix with a placard. They don’t have my job, and I don’t have their job.
How very diplomatic. But smart not to shoot himself in the foot there, as he may want to continue to get acting jobs, and Netflix probably isn’t a company you’d want to make enemies with. I’m still sad, and I hope we do get to hear the rest of the story of The OA someday, though. How about you?