RELATIVELY UNKNOWN – AND HE’S DIGGING IT
HE’S starred in blockbusters including the Harry Potter fl icks and as the lead in TV series such as last year’s critically acclaimed Awake. But when Jason Isaacs shot his latest series DIG in Jerusalem, he was by far the least famous cast member on set.
“An awful lot of the cast are the most famous and brilliant actors in Israel – and of course, I’d never heard of them,” he laughs. “Every time someone would come to set, ( co- creator and director) Gideon Raff would say, ‘ You don’t know it but this guy is the Brad Pitt or the Marlon Brando of Israel’.
“They’d start acting and you’d go, ‘ Holy s---, they’re good’.”
British- born Isaacs is in demand partly because of his mastery of accents – he found it easy to deliver an American accent for his role as FBI agent Peter Connelly.
“When you open your mouth in England, within the fi rst 10 seconds anyone in the country can judge not just where you came from but what education you’ve had,” he says. “So if you don’t manage to do accents and dialogues, well, you’re in real trouble.”
The hardest part of DIG, Isaacs says, was the number of stunts he performed – and he found out when shooting the last episode he’d been wearing boots that were a size too big.
“There was a scene where all my clothes got damaged and I had to change clothes a number of times,” he says. “They said, ‘ We’re sorry, the other boots we have are a bit too small for you’. But they were size nine, my size. “I knew I felt like I was in clown shoes but I’d been wearing shoes too big for me all that time.” GRANT Bowler concedes his friends are right when they observe it’s no surprise he ended up as lead actor on a show called Defi ance.
As the sci- fi - meets- western series launches its third season, Bowler is proud that when the chips were down – when he was broke, when he was cleaning elevators in LA, even when his marriage fell apart – he persisted.
“Stubbornness and perseverance got me a long way, but I had to learn them. I had to learn to ask for what I want,” says Bowler, 46.
It’s the same stoicism which sees Bowler, as lead lawmaker Joshua Nolan in Defi ance, perform most of his own stunts in below- freezing temperatures in Canada “because that’s the fun stuff ”.
It’s his down- to- earth approach which allows him to make a storyline in which he’s a human lawmaker with an adopted alien daughter named Irisa ( Stephanie Leonidas) fl y.
Bowler, who cut his teeth in Australian dramas including Blue Heelers, had three shots at Hollywood before landing leading- man status.
Along the way he starred in Ugly Betty, True Blood and Lost, before landing Defi ance.
“Am I a glutton for punishment? Yes and no,” he says of the long wait for his big break. “If I had have gone over and nobody was interested I probably would have taken the hint. The problem I kept having was there was interest but I’d get all of these really horrible 50- 50 coin tosses that went the wrong way.
“Sometimes the jobs didn’t go to anyone else – the whole show would fall over. It was horrible. Like watching your house slowly fall down the hill in slow motion … towards a fi re. The reality was I knew there was a career there. I’m bloody glad I kept going.
“I learned what was really important and I learned about having faith in myself.”
Bowler laughs. “In the end everybody got fed – it was only a quick four- and- a- half years of absolute agony.”
The present sees Bowler sitting pretty. As season three of Defi ance airs, he’s wrapping fi nal scenes in Canada, preparing to return to his LA home, where his former wife Roxanne Wilson and kids now live just a few kilometres away.
It will be welcome respite from the freezing temperatures of Vancouver, where Bowler says shooting the fi rst few episodes of season three was “brutal” – both in terms of emotional storylines and physicality.
“I think we shot 22 days outside in between minus- 18C and minus- 35C,” he says. “It was horrible. But what we put on screen was fantastic.
“In that cold, I had at least fi ve fi st fi ghts. I must have got knocked down 50 times … and I’m wearing a jacket which is 20kg and carrying a rifl e and handgun weighing another 18kg.
“And I get back up and I’m like, ‘ Just kill me, just end it now, or let me lie down in the soft snow and I’ll go to sleep’.
“But that’s the fun part. I do all this talking in between. Why wouldn’t I do the fi ght?”