When it comes to the Star Wars universe, a new theory appears to pop up almost every day. But when one comes from the mouth of Oscar Issac, aka Poe Dameron in Episodes VII and VIII, you pay attention. Here’s how the Guatemalan-born actor expanded upon his character’s background, as well as his personal reasons for doing so.
Born in Guatemala in 1979, Isaac moved to the United States with his family as a baby. After a spell in The Blinking Underdogs, a ska-punk outfit who supported The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Green Day, Isaac switched his focus to acting. In 2001 he earned a place at the Juilliard School in New York, one of the most prestigious acting academies in America.
Following minor roles in Illtown, All About the Benjamins and Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Oscar landed his first notable part in 2006 when he starred as Joseph in The Nativity Story. He went on to portray King John in Robin Hood, an interpreter in Che: Part One and a security guard in W.E, as well as appearing in box office hits Drive and The Bourne Legacy.
Isaac also had several chances to showcase his musical talents on screen. He played a self-penned song, for example, while appearing in 10 Years as a musician. And in 2013 he was cast as the eponymous folk singer in the Coen brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis. Isaac subsequently picked up a Best Actor (Musical or Comedy) nod at the Golden Globes for his performance.
A few years later, Oscar had the opportunity to make an acceptance speech at the Globes in 2016. The star was crowned Best Actor (Miniseries or Television Film), in fact, for his turn as a politician in HBO’s Show Me A Hero. He also earned critical acclaim for his leading performances in crime drama A Most Violent Year and Alex Garland’s sci-fi film Ex Machina.
Oscar then entered the superhero world in 2016 when he portrayed the titular baddie in X-Men: Apocalypse. That same year he starred alongside Christian Bale in Armenian Genocide drama The Promise and played a soldier attempting to readjust to normal life in the podcast Homecoming. He later enjoyed a two-month stint playing the leading role in a Hamlet production staged at New York’s The Public Theater.
By this point, Isaac was also viewed by many as a Hollywood sex symbol. But the star himself only had eyes for one particular lady. In February 2017 he walked down the aisle with Elvira Lind, a film director from Denmark. The pair welcomed their first child Eugene into the world just two months later.
Isaac also enjoyed reunions with both the Coen brothers and Alex Garland in 2017. He worked with the former on Suburbicon, a black comedy scripted by the siblings and directed by George Clooney. Shortly afterwards, he starred alongside Natalie Portman in Annihilation, a sci-fi horror helmed by Garland.
At the end of that year, Isaac appeared again as Poe Dameron in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The actor had first taken on the role of the X-wing pilot in Star Wars: The Force Awakens two years previously. And he was later confirmed to appear in the franchise for a third time in 2019 instalment Star Wars: Episode IX.
It was while promoting his first Star Wars film back in 2015 that Isaac made a suggestion about his character that soon took on a life of its own. The actor mentioned the idea in question while talking to Fandango about the link between the franchise and his place of birth. For it turns out that Guatemala played a pivotal role in the very first Star Wars movie.
“One of Guatemala’s biggest claims to fame is that Guatemala is featured in the end of A New Hope At the medal ceremony, that was filmed… in Tikal, Guatemala,” Isaac explained to Fandango. “So I said, ‘How cool would it be if that’s where Poe was from?’”
Isaac then expanded on his theory, and he seemed pretty pleased with himself about the ingenuity of it all. “You know, he’s a Rebel fighter, that’s where the Rebel base is, why wouldn’t he be there?” Isaac continued. “That’s an incredible idea.”
The Associated Press reported that Oscar also discussed the idea of Poe hailing from the moon known as Yavin 4 in another interview. The actor brought up the theory when asked whether the X-wing pilot could possibly be a relation of Jimmy Smits’ character, Senator Bail Organa, in Attack of the Clones. “There’s room in the galaxy for more than one Latin family,” Isaac wryly replied.
After bringing the idea to the attention of director JJ Abrams, incredibly Isaac’s brainwave became part of Star Wars folklore. Poe Dameron’s birthplace was explicitly stated in comic book Shattered Empire, an official gap-bridger set in the period between the past two films. And that birthplace just happened to be Yavin 4.
Isaac was understandably delighted that his suggestion had been taken so seriously by the Star Wars team. “I helped write the Bible,” he joked to GQ magazine. “I’m a prophet.” Moreover, that wasn’t the only time that the actor managed to use his star power behind the scenes.
Indeed, Isaac also arranged for his Star Wars-obsessed uncle to make a cameo appearance in The Force Awakens. “He was the one that indoctrinated us in Star Wars,” Isaac explained to Fandango. “So then when he came to set, I introduced him to JJ, and JJ said, ‘You’re the uncle. Want to be in the movie?’”
Isaac’s uncle inevitably said yes to this golden opportunity, and he later couldn’t contain his joy when he saw himself on screen. “They put him in the back in the scene between Adam and I,” Isaac told Fandango. “And when the trailer first came out, I got a little picture where he had kind of circled this blur in the back, and he’s like, ‘That’s me!’”
Despite the inspiration for his Star Wars theory, though, Isaac seemingly has no interest in being seen as an official Guatemalan spokesperson. “I don’t represent anybody except this organism that I happen to be,” he told The Guardian in 2017. “I have a love for Guatemala, a love for my family there, a love for a place that I was born, a place where my mother was born.”
“But, yeah, I’m always wary of people that say they speak for a large group of people, because I’m always like, ‘Really? How do you know?’” Isaac added. “To speak for a group of people is not something I’ve ever felt comfortable doing.”
As well as returning to his role of Poe Dameron in Star Wars: Episode IX, Isaac will appear in two other big movies in 2019. Firstly, he stars alongside Ben Affleck, Charlie Hunnam and Pedro Pascal in crime drama Triple Frontier. And then he voices Gomez in the 3D animation The Addams Family.