■ The actor, 55, talks about Harry Potter, Star Trek and saturday’s charity run for Great Ormond Street hospital
What does this charity race entail?
I’ve been doing things with Great Ormond Street Hospital since I did the Peter Pan film a long time ago. JM Barrie, the story’s author, left the rights to it to the hospital. As a parent you hope you never have to go there but if you do it’s the most wonderful place to bring a sick child. The event is called a race but it isn’t one: you can walk, go on a bike or scooter, or take your dog. It raises money for the hospital and its care for families, and keeps it at the cutting edge of medical technology.
Do you still speak to anyone from the Harry Potter films?
I keep in touch with Tom Felton, who played my son, and I did a film that Bonnie Wright directed — she went to film school and is now a wonderful director. Tom and I see each other when we can. He has turned into a fabulous young man — or not so young, he was 31 the other day. When you think about what happens to incredibly famous young people in the Hollywood system, they so often get monstrously messed up by it, but Daniel, Rupert, Emma, Tom, Matthew and the rest are really grounded, generous young people. I’d be very proud of all of them if I was their parent or someone who had helped them through the Harry Potter experience. It was a giant family and they all came out the other side.
You recently tweeted about the film Elektra. Is it easy to laugh at your older work?
When I find a picture of myself poncing around in costume, I sometimes post it — I have no idea why. What I usually do on social media is rant about that idiot in the White House who seems to be making the world more dangerous. I’m not in a serious job. Some of the films did well, some did badly, a lot never came out. My experience isn’t about the commercial success of the projects but whether I met people and had fun. I’ve got friends and relatives who do proper jobs and make a difference in the world.
Did you have a nice time doing Star Trek?
What seven-year-old boy trapped in a 55-year-old man’s body wouldn’t want to fire phasers and pretend the ship is being hit by Klingon torpedoes? It was heartening that the Star Trek community accepted us. They were very resistant at first but most people loved it.
What was the resistance about?
Two things. Firstly, genuine Star Trek fans who are protective about a fandom they’ve been involved in for more than 50 years in some cases. The other aspect was lunatic racists pretending they were Star Trek fans complaining it had a black woman lead and was too PC. Half were bots but what was laughable was they didn’t know anything about Star Trek. It was born out of the civil rights movement, it had the first interracial kiss and it had a Russian on the bridge at the height of the Cold War. At first I would respond to this unbridled racism, misogyny and hatred but when I clicked on their feeds I saw they were members of far-right groups and were using it as an easy target. I stopped responding because they only have eight followers and want the oxygen of publicity.
Is it true the director of Event Horizon spent two days shooting with Italian porn stars for 20 seconds of final film footage?
That is a kissing cousin of what happened. The ship goes to hell and back, and in the final cut it flashes to hell for the occasional frame. He hired his friend to shoot the second unit. On a separate stage he had a bunch of porn stars and amputees doing all kinds of things to each other and themselves, much of which was stomach-churning. The second-unit director would come over to our set with a thousand-yard stare, saying, ‘You have no idea what I’ve been seeing this morning’. There was that footage but it was used very sparingly in the final film so as not to have a million lawsuits for PTSD.
Would it be frowned on to do that today?
I don’t know. It might have crossed a couple of lines. Everyone was doing it with full consent but I’m not sure there are many places that would show what was happening.
What lessons has your career in showbiz career taught you?
Not to be sure of anything and to enjoy the day. I’ve done so many things. So many haven’t come out, the least expected ones have been successful and the ones I thought were brilliant are on Channel 5 at 4am. I’ve learned to value the people I’m with, do the best work I can and enjoy why I did it in the first place — which is that I’m curious about what makes people the way they are. No one is what they seem. And when you look at someone and think they have it all, the truth is never what it appears.
Isaacs takes part in the 5km Race For The Kids in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital on Saturday at Hyde Park in London. To sign up, visit gosh.org