Oscar Isaac On The 'Time 100' List Is A Welcome & Well-Deserved Surprise
Of all the people on the Time 100 list that might've come as a surprise — Ariana Grande? Kendrick Lamar? — no one's inclusion, at least on the Artists side, was more intriguing to me than that of Oscar Isaac. Although the actor is certainly well-known these days, thanks primarily to a main role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, he hasn't been a big enough presence long enough in Hollywood to warrant a spot on a "Most Influential People" list — at least, that was my first reaction. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that actually, Isaac's inclusion on the Time list isn't all that odd; in fact, it couldn't be more deserved.
It's true that Isaac didn't become genuinely famous until 2015 — late 2015, at that — and so his appearance on the list alongside Hollywood veterans like Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Charlize Theron is certainly surprising. There's no question that he hasn't reached the same level of success or influence as many of the other people listed alongside him, and that his achievements, while impressive, aren't as large or groundbreaking as many of his Time-anointed peers. Yet this isn't to say that Isaac's inclusion was a mistake, and that he doesn't belong on the list. He does belong there, and here's why.
In the span of one year, Isaac starred in one of the most acclaimed sci-fi movies of the year, Ex Machina; took on the HBO miniseries Show Me a Hero, in a role that would win him a Golden Globe; and became a major player in the Star Wars franchise, thanks to his fan favorite role as pilot Poe Dameron. He also started promotion for X-Men: Apocalypse, in which he'll play the Big Bad; signed on to a handful of new movies, including a crime drama with Matt Damon and a thriller with Natalie Portman; and started filming Star Wars: Episode VIII, the highly-anticipated next movie in the series. He also received numerous nominations for Show Me a Hero and Ex Machina; attended major awards shows and events; and became a bonafide Internet sensation, thanks to his ability to turn every on-screen appearance into a must-watch meme.
In other words, Isaac became a legitimate superstar this past year, one of the most visible and talked-about actors on the planet. That amount of fame alone would be reason for Time to include him on the list, but I imagine that's not the only explanation. Isaac likely made the list because, unlike with many other celebrities, his fame has allowed him to have real influence. With The Force Awakens, Isaac became one of the most visible Latino actors in film, a fact undoubtedly celebrated by countless viewers not used to seeing themselves represented on-screen. And in playing Poe, Isaac portrayed a character who had an intimate friendship with another man, Finn, causing many to speculate that Poe will eventually be revealed to be Star Wars' first LGBT character. Even if that doesn't happen, the ambiguity of his sexual orientation has already proven groundbreaking.
All of this, plus Isaac's charm and skill in the role, led Poe to become a fan-favorite character, a fact that is rumored to have led to the changes to the Star Wars: Episode VIII script that are reportedly made. According to Cinema Blend, the upcoming film's script is reportedly being re-written in order to give more screen-time to his character and others. If it's true, it makes perfect sense; fans love Poe Dameron and what he represents, and the Star Wars universe has taken note.
So while yes, Isaac may not be as big of a name as some of the other people on the Time list, he deserves his spot just as much as they do theirs. In the span of a year, Isaac has transformed from respected but little-known actor to one of the most interesting and important stars around, a person who can both entertain audiences and wield plenty of influence.