The M Interview: Oscar Isaac on X-Wings and X-Men
From X-wing pilot to X-Men: Apocalypse, the future is looking brighter than ever for Oscar Isaac
It's good to be Oscar Isaac these days.
This year, he starred in one of the best reviewed movies of the year, Ex Machina, as a billionaire scientist playing God with artificial intelligence.
He picked up a Golden Globe nomination for his HBO series Show Me a Hero, in which he plays a mayor struggling to eliminate segregated housing.
And, most importantly, he takes on the role of X-wing fighter pilot Poe Dameron in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which is currently showing here.
Things will get bigger for Isaac next year, when he gives Hollywood's most beloved mutants a thrashing as the new big, bad Apocalypse in superhero flick X-Men: Apocalypse.
Isaac's character Dameron is a member of the Resistance who goes up against The First Order and is also the owner of astromech droid BB-8.
We are at the Los Angeles Convention Center and the cheerful 36-year-old Guatemala-born US actor describes Dameron as "a little reckless sometimes but he is very committed to the cause".
He told M: "Part of his journey is finding out how to truly be a hero and a leader, finding his way."
There was no gruelling months-long audition process for Isaac, no waiting by the phone, no prayers.
In fact, director J.J. Abrams offered him the part 20 minutes after his read-through with co-stars John Boyega and Daisy Ridley.
So what was the hardest part of the shoot? Was it the hotter-than-hell desert sequences? The long filming days? Being away from his family?
Nope, the biggest on-set challenge for Isaac was his hair.
He says: "There was so much attention to the hair, which was so frustrating because they didn't accept that I had curly hair and they wanted it somewhere in between.
"So there were people constantly running in to make it a little less curly and now it's too perfect and now it has to be a little bit more messy and so there was something always going on with that.
"You are doing a take and then suddenly (Star Wars producer and Lucasfilm head Kathleen) Kennedy is running up and she is fixing your hair."
Naturally, we ask if he received any piloting tips from Star Wars veteran Harrison Ford, who reprises his role as Millennium Falcon captain Han Solo and happens to be a private pilot in real life.
Isaac says: "I asked him, 'How did you do it?' He said, 'I was just making it up, I didn't know what I was doing with the controls'.
"Because it's very strange to get into an invented, imagined cockpit and how to believably look like you are flying this thing.
"I said, 'How do I do this, should I go do some simulators or any of that?' And he says, 'No no, it's in space, so the same rules don't apply'.
"Yeah, I think he was just saying use your imagination."
There are some Star Wars fans in Isaac's family and 10 of them went to The Force Awakens premiere with him. His uncle even got a bit part in the film.
"They are just nuts and fanatics. They have been counting down the days and they have been buying the toys and they have been sending pictures."
Which brings us to his love-hate relationship with his Poe Dameron action figure.
"It looks like my face was melted. Yeah, they never fixed my melted face. But what is really nice about the toys is, because I am away so much, now my mum can have a little toy of me. My girlfriend can have one and they can send pictures like, 'Oh you went to dinner with us, that's really great'."
But the strangest piece of merchandise he saw was a beach chair with his face on the seat "so people can sit on my face".
"I thought that was an interesting placement of the face. Maybe on the back, but just right there?! I haven't got a lot of luck with this merchandising so far. It's a little disrespectful," he adds, laughing.
I asked him, 'How did you do it?'. He said, 'I was just making it up, I didn't know what I was doing with the controls'.
- Oscar Isaac, who plays pilot X-wing fighter pilot Poe Dameron (inset) in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, on seeking piloting tips from Star Wars veteran Harrison Ford