Superhero fans love a good origins story, and they don’t come more complex than the one attached to Moon Knight, the latest entry in Disney Plus' ever-expanding universe of films and TV shows based on classic Marvel comics characters.
The six-part series stars Scenes From a Marriage actor Oscar Isaac as Steven Grant, who works at the gift store in London’s British Museum and who has difficulty distinguishing his dreams from his waking life.
It transpires he has a multiple personality disorder and has unwittingly been switching between mild-mannered Steven and mercenary action man Marc Spector while experiencing strange and terrifying hallucinations.
However, when Steven receives a mysterious phone call from a woman who recognizes his voice as that of Marc, he realizes he hasn’t been imagining things.
Soon, an even darker mystery with a connection to an ancient Egyptian god starts to unfold, revealing yet another persona – the crime-fighting Moon Knight, a caped figure with more than a passing resemblance to an ancient Egyptian mummy.
We caught up with 43-year-old Isaac to unravel the mystery behind Moon Knight…
What can you tell us about Steven and how the Moon Knight story unfolds?
"We are introduced to this world through Steven Grant, who works at a gift shop in a museum. He is someone who's desperate for connection, but hasn't developed the proper skills for that. He is also living with this condition that is a mystery to him."
How does his condition manifest itself?
"He has blackouts, and he is not sure if he has a sleep disorder, or exactly what is happening. Whole chunks of his memory are missing at times, and that just compounds the situation of isolation that he has."
What appealed to you about this story?
"For me, it was critical that Moon Knight was an authentic exploration of what it feels like to live with Dissociative Identity Disorder in a different way. It’s been looked at in films, but generally, it’s sensationalized and often demonized."
What’s your take on this unusual personality disorder?
"To me, it’s an actual superpower that someone who has been subjected to horrible trauma and abuse over an extended period of time can have. In order to survive, they create an alternate personality that has no knowledge of this kind of trauma."
What was it like portraying such a complex personality?
"The superhero movies are the big show in town right now, like the Busby Berkeley musicals of the olden days. But to survive, the genre has to keep evolving, otherwise, everybody’s going to get bored. The basic idea in Moon Knight of someone who doesn’t know their own mind was a really interesting starting point, and I saw a lot of opportunities to do something really unique within this genre."
Ethan Hawke plays the guru-like figure Dr Arthur Harrow in Moon Knight. Is it true you got him on board?
"I’d been watching him in the TV series The Good Lord Bird, and I was astounded by his work in that, and mentioned him to one of the directors. Ethan lives right around the corner from me, so we got together, and I got him drunk on tequila and made him say yes!"
What was your personal highlight from filming the series?
"It was the first time I put on the Moon Knight costume because it was such a powerful moment. For the first few months, we’d been focusing on other elements of the story. But when I came out dressed as Moon Knight, everyone was like: ‘Oh yeah, we’re making a superhero show!'"
Moon Knight is available on Disney Plus from Wednesday, March 30.
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Ian writes about TV and film for TV Times, What’s on TV and TV & Satellite Week magazines. He co-hosts the weekly TV streaming podcast, Bingewatch.