‘The OA’: Jason Isaacs Had His Mind Blown By Season 2, But Says Season 3 Will Be Very Different

"Every time they do something, it is so fearlessly audacious," the star said of creators Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling.
The OA
"The OA."
JoJo Whilden /Netflix

Before Jason Isaacs would talk about the Season 2 finale of “The OA,” he made a request. “The problem with talking about a Netflix show is, unlike a TV show — which is broadcast on a Thursday night or whatever — there are many millions of people around the world who will be watching this next month, next year, in six months time,” he said. “So, only if you promise me that you have a big spoiler alert up there and you have to scroll down before you get to any of the text that reveals it, will I talk to you, because otherwise you’ll ruin it for the viewer.”

And this worried him because, “I want the audience’s mind to be blown as much as it was when I was first told what was gonna happen. I was reeling from it.”

Thus, per Mr. Isaacs’ request…

[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for “The OA” Season 2, including the final scenes.]

“Every single person seems to want to be stopping me in the street,” Isaacs said of the Netflix original series, created by Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling. “Only Netflix knows the real answers, but I feel like literally everyone on the planet wants to know what happens next, because in Starbucks, buying gas, anywhere I go, people go, ‘You gotta tell me.’ And the truth is, they don’t really want the answers from me, they want the answers from Zal and Brit, who write it together, and they want it told on the screen.”

In a season packed with crazy moments that included a psychic octopus, the “Tree Internet,” and a swimming pool filled with flower-sprouting corpses, perhaps the most insane twist came at the very end of the season, when the facade of fiction was seemingly pulled back, and “The OA” was transported into a new reality: one about the making of a TV show that looks a lot like “The OA.” Brit Marling’s character, OA, is known as “Brit” and Isaacs’ Hap is called “Jason Isaacs,” and they’re shooting a scene on a soundstage that looks a lot like the scene that was playing out in the other dimension.

Isaacs said he learned about the twist while having dinner with Batmanglij, during the lead-up to Season 2. “I was struggling to see, [and] he said, ‘Don’t worry, it will make sense when you watch it.’ Which was true. And then he said, ‘Do you want to hear the ending? It’s freaky.’ […] I had to stand up and walk outside the restaurant and start pacing in circles, grabbing my head and going, ‘What the fuck are you talking about?'”

“The OA.”JoJo Whilden/Netflix

However, Batmanglij talked him not just through the ending, but also the path it will determine for Season 3 — “if we’re lucky enough to make one,” Isaacs said. It was a journey, though, that “did to me what I see online it seems to have done to everybody who watched it. It blew my mind. But nothing really surprised me with them, because every time they do something, it is so fearlessly audacious.”

When asked about how the scene was described in the script, Isaacs said, “I didn’t need to read the script because I’d had it talked through perfectly by them — and they don’t particularly issue the scripts to many people, or any people.” He noted, though, that even the crew was confused on set. “I think it came as quite a shock to people when we were filming it. There were of plenty people walking around scratching their head. Crew members asking me, ‘I don’t understand. What does this mean? What’s going on? What happens?'”

Isaacs, however, was “loathe to explain things because the story explains it better than me. It’s like explaining a dance, or explaining a painting.”

One big twist is that as revealed in this new dimension “Brit” and “Jason Isaacs” are married. What does that actually mean, when it comes to “The OA” versus reality? Isaacs is full of questions, not so much answers. “First of all, ‘Are we married?’ I didn’t have to ask myself that, and I didn’t have to ask my wife. But what does that mean when we go into that world? Does that mean that Brit and I have the history that Brit and Jason have as actors? Is it different? What kind of dimension is it? What histories are we gonna have and what future is gonna happen? What are we gonna know about ourselves and each other there? Was I in ‘Harry Potter’? Was she in ‘Another Earth’? Are we making ‘The OA’? How popular is it? What season are we on? What year is it? All those things.”

The OA
“The OA.”Nicola Goode/Netflix

One person not concerned about that twist: Emma Hewitt, Jason Isaacs’ wife in our current reality. “I’m not sure my wife knows or takes an interest,” he said. “She wants to know if I’ve taken the garbage out, what time does she have to pick the kids up at school again, or can I do it? If people start walking up and start saying, ‘I’m so sorry about your marriage,’ she might take an interest. We’ll see what happens.”

Another change discovered in this new reality: “Jason Isaacs'” accent — though it’s not exactly Isaacs’ real accent. “There was, in fact, a scene in Season 2 that was cut, where Hap was trying to learn a British accent listening to the BBC on the radio all the time. He was playing it on a loop and doing it again and again,” he said. “So I didn’t know whether I should use fully my own accent, or whether how well Hap will do a British accent, or whether it will slip. I didn’t just drop my American accent and use my own accent — even when I said the line onscreen, I was doing a not-perfect British accent as done by an American. But by the time we find him in Season 3, who knows how good Hap’s accents will be?”

Isaacs said that “I do love an accent, but it is slightly mind-blowing — it’s these rather pretzel-like contortions my brain has to go through to think, ‘OK, so does Hap study my accent, and do I do a version of myself as done by an American who does it quite well, or does it quite badly?’ That’s a lot to think about before you start playing a scene.”

"The OA."
“The OA.”Olivie Bee/ Netflix

It’s all part of a puzzle Isaacs is confident will come together because of how Batmanglij and Marling operate: “There are some shows on the air, where they’re implying there’s a big puzzle or mythology, and they’re gradually revealing it piece by piece. But those people inside the business know full well that the writers are just winging it. […] Whereas Zal and Brit, they’ve got the whole puzzle in their head. That’s why things overlap from Season 1 to Season 3, and there are bits of Season 5 in Season 2.”

One thing Isaacs feels confident about is that Season 3 and beyond will be different from what’s come before. “If you think about what happened in Season 2, the noir-ish tech thriller aspect of it, one thing’s for sure, they’re never gonna repeat themselves. It’s not like ‘The Fast and the Furious.’ You don’t add a road and a couple more cars. It’s likely to be something entirely different. Season 1 and Season 2 in many ways couldn’t be more different. And I have no doubt they’ll do the same, because they don’t bore themselves, or they don’t want to bore the audience.”

In general, the reaction to Season 2 has Isaacs excited. “[It] might mean that I get to see what the bloody hell’s gonna happen because I’m dying to see where all five seasons go. I’m invested not financially, but just as a fan in them getting to finish their story.”

“The OA” Season 2 is streaming now on Netflix.

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