Oscar Isaac crosses over to the dark side
Oscar Isaac goes to painful lengths to cross over from Star Wars: The Force Awakens hero to X-Men: Apocalypse villain
It's a measure of his talent that one of the nicest guys in showbiz was picked to be the villain of a Hollywood blockbuster.
When Oscar Isaac walks into our interview at the Lanesborough Hotel in London, you have to wonder why the powers that be thought of this sweet, friendly man to play Apocalypse, the ancient, powerful and malevolent being who is the original mutant in the X-Men universe.
Not that the 37-year-old American doesn't do a great job.
Almost unrecognisable in the Apocalypse costume with his voice digitally altered, he conveys a palpable menace with his megalomaniacal plans to destroy the world in the new superhero flick X-Men: Apocalypse, which opens here tomorrow.
Directed by Bryan Singer, the ninth instalment of the franchise shows how, upon awakening after thousands of years, Apocalypse recruits a team of powerful mutants, including a disheartened Magneto (Michael Fassbender), to cleanse mankind and create a new world order over which he will reign.
It is up to Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and Professor X (James McAvoy) to lead their own team of young X-Men and stop their greatest nemesis.
It's great to be Isaac these days.
Aside from this, he broke into the mainstream playing heroic resistance X-wing fighter pilot Poe Dameron in last year's Star Wars: The Force Awakens and won a Best Actor Golden Globe earlier this year for his role in the HBO movie Show Me A Hero.
Apocalypse was a character Isaac was familiar with since he was a fan of the X-Men comics as a child.
He tells M with a laugh: "He was a very scary character for me because he embodied the end of the world and the apocalypse which is from the Book of Revelation (in the bible). My parents were quite religious and so they always would scare us with the end of the world and Armageddon.
"Now, I saw it as a way of exploring ideas of God and ideas of judgment. It was a form of doing something that's not naturalism - in film, you don't often get the chance to do things that are almost like Greek theatre or kabuki."
The 18kg suit was particularly challenging, and pretty much only his eyes were visible through the prosthetics that covered his face.
He says: "That was a very interesting post-production process where they miked both the sides of my face to get these lower (voice) frequencies.
"I had to have a cooling mechanism underneath (the suit) because if not, I would get heatstroke and die. I had to have a cooling tent and I couldn't really sit down on a normal chair, so they would put me on a little saddle."
He also jokes about the high heels he had to wear.
"To practise for it, I put on my girlfriend's high heels at home just so I could look manly with them."
"But it was very difficult," he said. "It was painful. I couldn't really interact with anybody else because my whole head was encased in prosthetics and I would be sweating into my ears but I couldn't scratch them so I just had to sit and meditate," he said, laughing.
"I wouldn't really talk to anyone because I couldn't really see them, you know. So it became a process of how do I express things with very limited mobility. It was fun but I wouldn't want to do it again."
It was such a gruelling experience for him that the entire voice track had to be redone in post-production.
"I knew very early on that I was going to have to dub the whole performance because the suit was very squeaky, so any kind of movement, you could hear the plastic moving.
"That was a first time doing that and it was a different challenge. This was having to use a different set of skills and it became exciting to learn how to express myself with limited possibilities and what to do with the voice and how to change it and how to manipulate it.
"The fact that you don't see too much of me in there is an exciting thing," he said.
As one of the newbies in the cast, he was welcomed by the regulars, whom he calls a "fun group of people".
"A lot of my first scenes were with Michael and we are very much cut from the same cloth, just having a very good time laughing a lot.
"Same thing with James, Nicholas Hoult (Beast), Jennifer and Evan Peters (Quicksilver). I wasn't sure, because I'd heard all these stories that they do BB guns and they fight. (But) they accepted me with open arms, which was very, very nice."
Isaac is back to work on Star Wars: Episode VIII (2017), his first time reprising a character.
Reflecting on Star Wars: The Force Awakens' international mega success, he says: "You see how much it means to people, all the kids writing letters and that kind of thing. It's really beautiful. It's a little harder to pretend that it's not the biggest thing in the world now when you're shooting, so it takes a little extra concentration to try to get that out of the way.
"Rian Johnson is a really, really great guy, a great director and he's got some wonderful new cast members that makes it feel new again... like we're doing something different.
"It's been fun to deepen the character because before it was just kind of bits and pieces and we were just kind of seeing what worked, and now we have a bit more of a direction of where we want to take Poe."
Oscar Isaac's Apocalypse isn't the only new mutant in X-Men: Apocalypse. Meet the other latest additions to the X-Men movie franchise.
Scott Summers / Cyclops
Kurt Wagner / Nightcrawler
Ororo Munroe / Storm