Jason talks about his role and the movie
© Barcarola Publication
The article was in Spanish. It was translated by our resident Spanish Translator, Alejandra, at Jasonisaacsonline.
This english actor, who studied law in Bristol
University, has been strutting his obvious English posture and manners through
the most demanding british stages and Hollywood sets. In “La Conjura del
Escorial (The Escorial Conspiracy)”, he faces a double challenge. First, to play
Antonio Perez, a character that is pivotal in this story and second, to do it
with historical accuracy without avoiding the fact that Perez was a very
charismatic and attractive person in the 16th century and, therefore, in the
21st century too.
He tells, in a very personal manner, how tough filming this movie has been for him, what was his first impression when working with director Antonio Del Real and in what way has the history of Spain has pervaded his knowledge and free soul.
Would you like to film a movie here in Spain for two months? It’s a historical thriller. There are castles, murders, conspiracies, horses, love, revenge, a lot of velvet (LOL!) and to make things better, Julia Ormond. It was evident that this conversation with my agent was going to be shorter than what I had imagined.
Who do I play and when do I start?, I asked him, very enthused.
I think the hero. The King’s advisor, Antonio Perez. No..wait! hold on. Let me research..yeah..no…I think he’s the villain . He plans a murder. No..wait..hold on..it says here that it’s about the Prime Minister. He’s in love with Julia’s character, the Princess of Eboli but…I think he’s married. Or is she the one who’s married? Or was she? I’m not sure…
Don’t worry. I’ll find out. When do I have to go to Spain?...In two days.
Thus began this journey full of knowledge, that got me obsessed, confused and utterly entertained. I hope the audience feels the same way as I did.
When I prepare myself for a character, I need to know that his story is worth telling. I’m ashamed to say this but, in my school we weren’t taught anything about the Spanish Empire. I knew very little about King Phillip II, and names like Antonio Perez, Princess of Eboli and Juan de Escobedo were new to me. And so was this infamous conspiracy to murder the king, provoking the readjustment of the power in the biggest and most powerful court in the world. I had to ask the director, Antonio Del Real, if this story was based on true facts.
When I found out the reality of the events, or at least a version of them, I knew what made this story so relevant: in a this historical context in which this great empire was involved in a very expensive war, fought in foreign lands, in which many innocent people were being killed, a man is trying to make a secret pact with the enemy, in order to make the troops come home, representing his boss, and at the same time, getting richer. The possible parallelisms with modern history and moral complexity go beyond.
Like always, when making a historical movie, there were a long list of writers, historians and other experts that contradicted each other. Each one of them had a different version of what happened. The movie’s plot was getting less and less clear. Julia and I tried to absorb all the different interpretations in order to put all of them into our characters. Was the relationship between the Princess of Eboli and Antonio Perez sentimental? Or maybe she was trying to cover him up or maybe he was gay, since there had been some allegations in France? Was the King aware of this conspiracy, to eliminate Escobedo from this equation? Did the Princess know? Was Antonio Perez the illegitimate son of the Prince of Eboli? Did the king, secretly, wanted to withdraw from the war with Flanders or intended to lead Antonio Perez to his own downfall? Why did the King let him escape? All the evidences seemed to lead to one answer, and sometimes it lead to other answers, until the point in which nothing seemed to be true. The fabric of this story was stretching and its threads were threatening to fray.
With security, Antonio Perez was leading us through the fog. We were telling a story, a version of the facts in this thinning ocean full of deductions, and this was our story, our version. If this makes the audience re-read the history books, we’ve done our job. If we make historians act like hound dogs, we’ve done our job too. We are creating fiction, we are and we need entertainment, drama, tragedy, comedy, blood, action, love and above all, we need a good beginning, climax and resolution. We take decisions, and we wrap around them, with all its complexity. For my version of Antonio Perez, ego and greed are mixed together, but at the same time, he was trying to do the right thing. This is something I look for in every character I’ve played.
Because of all these reasons, the public will find, hopefully, an exciting and entertaining experience. Even though my overwhelming memories of this movie are more personal: the beauty and wealth of the castles, palaces, cathedrals, libraries, and all the great locations, some that had never been filmed in, the food, more like a royal banquet, that we shared with the entire cast and crew in one of the most breath-taking cities, abundant in this country. The set, always full of laughter and warmth along with the experience of filming with the cast and crew, some actors already knew each other, but they welcomed Julia and me with generosity. Finally, and above all, I take with me the great luck of spending two months of my life making a dream come true.