Oscar Isaac loves that Poe Dameron was court-martialed by fans over 'The Last Jedi'

Ethan Alter
Senior Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
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Oscar Isaac loves that Poe Dameron was court-martialed by fans over 'The Last Jedi'

Oscar Isaac loves that Poe Dameron was court-martialed by fans over 'The Last Jedi'
Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron in Star Wars: The Last Jedi (David James/Lucasfilm via AP)

Despite the best efforts of the First Order, the Resistance lives to fight another day at the end of Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi. But after the hugs and high-fives, some serious questions will be asked by the survivors … questions like, “Are we only in this mess because of Poe Dameron?”

The would-be hero certainly has a lot of ‘splaining to do after his repeated acts of insubordination undermined Vice Admiral Holdo’s leadership. Rather than wait for that to be addressed in J.J. Abrams’s currently-shooting Episode IX, the fan-centric podcast The Legal Geeks held a mock trial for ex-Commander Dameron, complete with a mock Poe, at this year’s Comic-Con International in San Diego.

Dameron’s actual alter ego — actor Oscar Isaac — was nowhere near Comic-Con for the character’s court date, but he heard about it after the fact. “I love that,” he tells Yahoo Entertainment. “It’s incredible, because you have people actually engaging with the ethical question of war and what leadership is. The last thing you want is for people to watch a movie and be like, ‘Great,’ and then move on. With [The Last Jedi], the conversation continues and can stir real emotions. You’re having a conversation about actual things that matter, you know?”

Of course, some online critics had their emotions so stirred by The Last Jedi, they’re trying to raise the funds to remake the movie on their own terms. While Isaac didn’t address that campaign directly in our conversation, he did express enthusiasm at the prospect of people funneling their thoughts and feelings about Star Wars into creating their own stories set in their own galaxies far, far away.

“What I think is really special about the whole thing — particularly for people that really didn’t agree with where the story went — is that it’s often a great inspiration to do your own stuff,” he says. “Obviously, making your own Star Wars movie is a bit of a tough challenge, but at least from a narrative standpoint maybe you make your own thing and then show what you would want. Make what you would want to see.”

And Isaac is absolutely following his own advice by making the movies he wants to see. The actor makes the leap to producer with Operation: Finale, a fact-based period drama that he also stars in as Peter Malkin — the Israeli secret agent who successfully led a daring mission to capture the notorious Nazi officer Adolf Eichmann (played by Ben Kingsley) from his hiding place in Argentina.

“I’m interested in movies that aren’t afraid of complexity, that really try to speak to things that are incredibly relevant right now,” Isaac says about how Operation: Finale reflects the kinds of projects he hopes to produce going forward. “Chris [Weitz, the film’s director] and I talked a lot about how this shouldn’t be about providing easy answers to easy questions. We wanted to dive headfirst into the difficult ethical questions of revenge and justice and hatred.” (Watch an exclusive clip, above, from Operation: Finale, which opens in theaters on Friday.)

Those questions are directly addressed in the centerpiece of the movie — a series of extended conversations between Isaac and Kingsley that unfold in the Buenos Aires safehouse where Malkin’s team is keeping Eichmann in hiding while trying to find a safe way to transport him out of the country. Finally confronted with one of the monsters behind the Final Solution, Malkin attempts to do the impossible: talk to him as a human being.

In Operation Finale, Oscar Isaac, standing, stars as Mossad agent Peter Malkin, who led a team of Israeli spies who tracked down and captured the notorious Adolf Eichmann (played by Ben Kingsley) 15 years after World War II. (Photo:  Automatik Entertainment)

“The thing is, they are human,” Isaac says about his approach to playing those scenes and how they perhaps speak to the present day. “We don’t live in a world of actual monsters. We live in a world where people that seemingly have a conscious … can also perpetrate mass horrors. That’s the scariest thing of all; sometimes it’s easier for us to imagine the Nazis as this kind of mystical group of mindless psychopaths that somehow were able to get into power. But the truth is, it could happen at any moment with very regular people [if] you have a demagogue that can stir up enough hatred and animosity and division under the guise of nationalism. It’s a very scary thing, and that’s why I think it’s a very timely movie.”

Before Isaac can find his next producing project, he’s got to bring Poe Dameron’s story to its (possible) conclusion in Episode IX. Where The Last Jedi began mere moments after The Force Awakens ended, it seems likely that we’re in for a somewhat longer between-movie time jump with the trilogy-capper if only to speedily resolve some lingering Jedi questions, like whether Poe is back in the Resistance’s good graces. (For the record, his Comic-Con mock trial ended with Dameron being found guilty of two of the three counts against him and receiving a 10-year prison sentence on a planet better known to citizens of the Star Trek galaxy.) The more important issue, though, is how the film will showcase Carrie Fisher’s posthumous final appearance as Leia Organa, who let’s not forget, wisely demoted Poe to captain for defying her orders. “I’m very happy about that,” Isaac says about Abrams’s decision to feature Fisher in Episode IX. “I think it’ll be a wonderful way to deal with this character that we all love so much.”

Operation: Finale opens in theaters on Aug. 29. Watch the trailer:

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