I really like Jason Isaacs as an actor. He’s done some great shows/movies. He makes a good villain, sure, but I like him better as a hero. (To be fair, I like pretty much all actors better as heroes. If I like them, I prefer to be able to sympathize with them.) I really enjoyed Awake (a one-season series from 2012 which at least didn’t end on a cliffhanger like most other cancelled shows). Brotherhood was really interesting, though I only saw the first season or so and need to go back and watch the whole thing. He’s played a whole bunch of great characters in a bunch of great movies.
But in 2001, he hadn’t been in nearly as many, and only a few that I’d actually seen. So when I saw him sitting at a table in the big, packed autograph room filled with actors signing photos of themselves, I looked at his photos, thought, “Oh, the bad guy from The Patriot,” and kept going. It was one of those kick-yourself-later moments. I could have stopped to chat (there was no line, since he wasn’t famous), but I’ve always been terrible with interacting with my fellow humans, especially strangers out of the blue, so I didn’t. (Plus, the only thing I knew him from was from being a pretty awful bad guy, so it wasn’t like I could even say, “I loved you in that movie.” It would have been more like, “I saw you in that movie.” Which sounds pretty lame.)
This was at a Star Trek convention in Portland. The date was 1/7/01—I remember because the MC pointed it out. (1701 is the Enterprise’s number, for all you non-Trekkie.) A relatively small event, where the biggest name there was Robert Duncan McNeill (one of the leads on Voyager, though it looks like he’s mostly a director now). And in all the years since, I’ve still never been able to figure out why Jason Isaacs was even there. He wasn’t listed on the program. The best I’ve been able to guess is that he was a last-minute fill-in when someone else cancelled. He’d never been on Star Trek at that point, so his presence at a Star Trek convention was a bit of a baffler, but maybe it was because of being in the Harry Potter movie the next year? I don’t know; I wasn’t into Harry Potter at that time either.
He was on a four-person Q&A panel (this convention was small enough that there was only one hall, so only one schedule of programs, IIRC) with the guy who played Boomer in the original Battlestar Galactica, the lady who played the evil leaper on Quantum Leap and some one-off villains on Star Trek, and the guy who played Khan’s son on the old Trek movie. So, ya know, a real Who’s Who.
I don’t actually remember anything that anyone said or what they talked about, but I was still journaling at the time, and what I wrote was mostly the impressions I had of the various guests. (There was one speaker who I apparently found “very overbearing” and “kind of annoying”.) Other than noting that he was bald and that made him hard to recognize, pretty much the only impression that my 18-year-old self had of this random, non-Star Trek actor at a Star Trek convention was this:
“He was fun to listen to. He had a cool English accent, because he was from there, but there was a quality to it. He sounded kind of like Giles, from Buffy.”
And it’s just funny to me that now, sixteen years later, he’s finally justified his presence at that convention. Not only is he a regular on the new Star Trek, he’s the captain—although from what I’ve heard (I haven’t watched it), his character hardly does any justice to Kirk, Picard, Sisko, Janeway, or even Archer. And of all the nonsensical decisions, it sound slike he’s not even using his own cool English accent. I really want to like his characters, even the morally grey ones, but from the sound of things, I won’t be able to with this one. And after sixteen years coming, that’s actually really disappointing.
So that was the time I didn’t meet Jason Isaacs. Maybe I’ll get another chance later. I’m pretty sure if I do, I’ll be able to come up with something semi-coherent to say.