During his impressive career, Oscar Isaac has played a variety of characters. More than a feature in many films, Isaac is unique in that he has portrayed numerous ethnicities. “I’m half Guatemalan, half Cuban. Or, as casting directors call it, ‘ethnically ambiguous,'” he said during his opening monologue for Saturday Night Live. He added, “According to them, I can play anything from a pharaoh to Timothée Chalamet’s father.” The actor joked, but his resume shows his versatility, playing Armenian, Greek, Mexican, Egyptian and French characters, to name a few , The Guardian recapitulated.
Many of those opportunities arose from his breakout role in the film Inside Llewyn Davis. At the time, Isaac was still relatively unknown and had to prove himself to famous directors Joel and Ethan Coen. “I wanted it so badly and I worked my ass off before doing it,” Isaac told the New York Times. The work paid off when the actor’s name appeared on posters for major films such as Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens. He has many other names than Isaac, such as “the friend of the internet” in 2016, according to Rolling Stone.
During an interview with ET Today, the Chinese publication asked Isaac how he felt about being called “the daddy of the internet.” He replied: “I didn’t realize the fans called me daddy but that’s ok. You can call me daddy if you want. I don’t mind” (via Pedestrian). However, few people know that Oscar Isaac is not his full birth name.
Oscar Isaac reveals what his name means in entertainment
Oscar Isaac’s full name is Óscar Isaac Hernández Estrada, but he went with both his first names “for a number of reasons, but also because the marquee, you know, it’s a little bit easier,” Isaac told The Guardian. He also partially changed the name to stand out from other actors. “When I was in Miami, there were a few other Oscar Hernándezes that I would see auditioning,” he recalled to Esquire. “Oscar Hernandez is like John Smith down there … so I wanted to stand out,” he told the New York Daily News. When he enrolled at the Juilliard School for the Performing Arts, all of his classmates, including Jessica Chastain, knew him as Isaac. While he certainly landed big movie roles, the name change didn’t always work in his favor. For example, Isaac said many casting directors would only consider him for gangster roles or other limited roles due to his ethnicity. After using his middle name, Isaac hoped this would open more doors. The casting director of a film starring Jewish director Barry Sonnenfeld suggested, “Let’s bring in that Oscar Isaac,” and he said, “No, no, no! I only want Cubans,” the actor told Esquire.
When it came to naming his own family, Isaac and his wife, director Elvira Lind, welcomed their first child, Eugene, in 2017. The name honored Isaac’s mother, Eugenia, who died just two months before Eugene was born.
What Oscar Isaac thinks about his legacy
Oscar Isaac got his half Cuban heritage from his father and half Guatemalan from his mother. Isaac’s family tree also includes some distant French and Israeli relatives, The Guardian wrote. Born in Guatemala, Isaac was only five months old when his family moved to America. He doesn’t shy away from his family history, but Isaac doesn’t want to feel pressured to be a representative for either country either. Isaac loves both Cuba and Guatemala, but “I don’t represent anyone other than this organism, which I happen to be,” he told The Guardian. According to Isaac, “I’ve never felt comfortable speaking for a group of people.” He also grew up in a very different environment – Isaac’s family lived in Baltimore, New Orleans and Miami. All of these steps may have puzzled young Isaac, who recalled once asking his father if their family was Russian. Ultimately, he celebrated his legacy and didn’t hide his ability to speak Spanish. As for the name change, “It’s always been an element of the nature of show business,” he told the New York Daily News.
After becoming a huge star, Isaac’s Hernandez surname didn’t completely disappear from Hollywood. When he joined the Marvel series Moon Knight, the role required Isaac to play two different characters, Steven Grant and Marc Spector. So the actor turned to his younger brother, Michael Benjamin Hernandez, to become his stunt double.