The Card Counter’s Oscar Isaac on Becoming Paul Schrader’s Latest “Man in a Room”

Thanks to films like Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and, more recently, First Reformed, filmmaker Paul Schrader has delivered audiences a variety of different protagonists who seem to exist in the margins of society, living a solitary life of frustration, angst, and depression, with his latest film, The Card Counter, adding another compelling character to the roster. Oscar Isaac steps into the role as a character who resembles some of Schrader’s past creations, yet brings with him an all-new and traumatizing history and trajectory, allowing The Card Counter to offer an unexpected tale of justice, vengeance, and redemption. The Card Counter hits theaters on September 10th.

“I’d say that what resonated most with me was trauma and what trauma does and how it’s processed and what people do with it in the aftermath,” Isaac shared with about his interest in the role. “He serves his time for this horrible thing that was told to do and did willingly, and when he gets out, he feels like it wasn’t enough. He’s still traumatized by what he’s done so he decides to live this life that’s quite empty and repetitive, in this purgatory.”

The film is described, “Redemption is the long game in Paul Schrader’s The Card Counter. Told with Schrader’s trademark cinematic intensity, the revenge thriller tells the story of an ex-military interrogator turned gambler haunted by the ghosts of his past decisions, and features riveting performances from Oscar Isaac, Tiffany Haddish, Tye Sheridan, and Willem Dafoe.”

Given Schrader’s long and acclaimed history of exploring such characters, Isaac confirmed that there were still opportunities to collaborate on how the character actually came to life, but that the script was so strong that there wasn’t much need to deviate from the words on the page.

“It is collaborative. The thing is, it’s amazing writing, right? So you wanna do the writing, you’re not looking to change it a bunch,” the actor pointed out. “Obviously, there would be some moments where there would be a question or change this little bit but, really, he writes in a way, like, subliminally, as well. So it leaves a lot of space for thought and impression and, it’s like Harold Pinter. There’s all these pauses and weird things so it’s not so direct, it’s not so linear, so that’s really exciting as an actor. You get in there and start doing these words and realize there’s all this subtext that’s just hinted at by these incredible constructions of words that he puts together.”

Isaac went on to express his excitement at getting to be the latest in a long line of layered and nuanced protagonists that Schrader has captured over the decades.

“Paul Schrader, as you pointed out, it’s such a specific thing and, as he talks about it, it’s in a long line of ‘man alone in his room,'” the actor noted. “Taxi Driver, Light Sleeper, American Gigolo, First Reformed … so, for me, it was this incredible honor that I get to do one of these characters, one of these ‘men in a room’ for this series of these incredible portraits, of these dark, tortured misfits.”

The Card Counter hits theaters on September 10th.

Are you looking forward to the new film? Let us know in the comments below or contact Patrick Cavanaugh directly on Twitter to talk all things horror and Star Wars!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *