Jason Isaacs (born 6 June 1963) is an English actor and producer. He is known for playing Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter film series, Colonel William Tavington in The Patriot, and criminal Michael Caffee in the Showtime series Brotherhood. In December 2016, he played "Hap" Percy in the Netflix supernatural series The OA. He currently plays Captain Gabriel Lorca, the commanding officer of the USS Discovery in Star Trek: Discovery and provides the voice of The Inquisitor, Sentinel, in Star Wars Rebels, the animated television series.
Outside of film and television, his stage roles include Louis Ironson in Declan Donnellan's 1992 and 1993 Royal National Theatre London premières of Parts One (Millennium Approaches) and Two (Perestroika) of Tony Kushner's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes, and as Ben, one of two hitmen, playing opposite Lee Evans as Gus, in Harry Burton's 50th-anniversary revival of Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter's 1957 two-hander The Dumb Waiter at Trafalgar Studios in the West End. He starred in the NBC drama Awake as Detective Michael Britten from March to May 2012.
Jason Isaacs was born in Liverpool, England, to Jewish parents. His father was a jeweller. Isaacs spent his earliest childhood years in an "insular" and "closely knit" Jewish community of Liverpudlians, of which his Eastern-European-Jewish great-grandparents were founder-members in the leafy Liverpool suburb, Childwall. The third of four sons, Isaacs attended a Jewish school, known then as King David High school and a cheder twice a week as a young adult. Isaacs has stated that Judaism played a big role in his childhood, as he attended youth club in the local synagogue and studied Hebrew twice a week. When Isaacs was 11, he moved with his family to north west London, attending The Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School, in Elstree, Hertsmere, in Hertfordshire, where he was in the same year as film reviewer Mark Kermode. He describes the bullying and intolerance he observed during his childhood as "preparation" for portraying the "unattractive", villainous characters whom he has most often played.
As a Jewish teenager in London, Isaacs endured marked antisemitism by members and supporters of the far right extremist organisation, the National Front. In an interview Isaacs stated that "There were constantly people beating us up or smashing windows. If you were ever, say, on a Jewish holiday, identifiably Jewish, there was lots of violence around. But particularly when I was 16, in 1979, the National Front were really taking hold, there were leaflets at school, and Sieg Heiling and people goose-stepping down the road and coming after us". Following in the footsteps of his conventional careerist brothers, one who became a doctor, one a lawyer, and one an accountant, Isaacs entered law at Bristol University (1982–85), but he became more actively involved in the drama society, eventually performing in over thirty plays and performing each summer at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, first with Bristol University and then, twice, with the National Student Theatre Company. After graduating from Bristol he went immediately to train at London's Central School of Speech and Drama (1985–88).
After completing his training as an actor, Isaacs almost immediately began appearing on the stage and on television; his film debut was in a minor role as a doctor in Mel Smith's The Tall Guy (1989). He was initially known as a television actor in the United Kingdom, with starring roles in the ITV drama Capital City (1989) and the BBC drama Civvies (1992) and guest roles in series such as Taggart, Inspector Morse, and Highlander: The Series (1993). He also played Michael Ryan in ITV's adaptation of Martina Cole's novel Dangerous Lady, directed by Jack Woods and produced by Lavinia Warner in 1995.
On stage, he portrayed the "emotionally waffling" gay Jewish office temp Louis Ironson in Tony Kushner's Pulitzer-Prize-winning Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes, at the Royal National Theatre, in its London première, performing the role in both parts, Part One: Millennium Approaches, in 1992, and Part Two: Perestroika, in 1993. When auditioning for that role, he told the producers, "Look, I play all these tough guys and thugs and strong, complex characters. In real life, I am a cringing, neurotic Jewish mess. Can't I for once play that on stage?"
His first major Hollywood feature-film role was alongside Laurence Fishburne in the horror film Event Horizon (1997). Subsequently, he appeared in the Bruce Willis blockbuster Armageddon (1998), which kick-started his career. Initially called upon to take a fairly substantial role, Isaacs was eventually cast in a much smaller capacity as a planet-saving scientist so that he could accommodate his commitment to Divorcing Jack (1998), a comedy thriller he was making with David Thewlis.