Jason Isaacs is an English actor best known for his role as Col. William Tavington, a sadistic British army officer, in the 2000 Mel Gibson feature film The Patriot.
He is best known to television audiences for his starring roles as Michael Caffee in the Showtime series Brotherhood (2006-2008) and as Michael Britten in Awake, in 2012. he also starred in the 2014 miniseries adaptation of Rosemary's Baby, based on the best-selling novel by Ira Levin.
Isaacs was born and grew up in Liverpool, the third of four brothers, and showed no early interest in performance at all. At the age of 11 his family moved to London where he attended the Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School and continually failed to get into the school play.
Isaacs had initially planned on becoming a lawyer, following his more traditionally-inclined brothers who are a doctor, lawyer, and accountant, and, in 1982, entered Bristol University to read law.
Feeling uneasy among peers "who all sounded like Hugh Grant", he fell rather accidentally into acting in the first year of his law studies, stumbling drunkenly into an audition for a part with "Northern accent required".
Cast in a play entitled Idle Hands, he ended up dancing naked, covered in chicken's blood – the first of many uncomfortable evenings in the theatre for his parents (in his second, The Glory of Love, he was castrated with a cheese-wire).
Although he first became interested in acting in part because "it was a great way to meet girls", Jason soon found an addiction to and a deeper meaning in the theatre (in one interview he was quoted as saying "I could release myself into acting in a way that I was not released socially").
He finished his degree while running Bristol's extra-curricular drama society, acting in or directing 30 or so more plays, spending three summers at the Edinburgh Festival, two Easters at the National Student Drama Festival and a Christmas run at the Kings Head theatre in Islington.
From 1985 he studied for a further three years at London's Central School of Speech and Drama, graduating in 1988 with an agent, a day's work on The Tall Guy and a girlfriend, Emma Hewitt, who was to become his wife.
After completing his training, Isaacs almost immediately began appearing on the stage and on television.
Isaacs was initially known as a television actor in the UK, having starring roles in the ITV drama Capital City and the BBC drama Civvies, and guest roles in series such as Taggart and Inspector Morse.
He made his big-screen debut in 1989 with a minor turn as a doctor in Mel Smith's The Tall Guy.
Jason exhibited his versatility in several more TV series and on-stage in such productions as the Royal National Theatre's 1993 staging of Tony Kushner's Pulitzer Prize-winning Angels in America.
He also began to find more work onscreen, receiving his first nod of Hollywood recognition in his casting in the Bruce Willis blockbuster Armageddon (1998).
Initially called upon to take a fairly substantial role, Jason was eventually cast in a much smaller capacity as a planet-saving scientist so that he could accommodate his commitment to Divorcing Jack (1998), a comedy thriller he was making with fellow Harry Potter alumnus David Thewlis.
After portraying a priest opposite Julianne Moore and Ralph Fiennes in Neil Jordan's acclaimed adaptation of Graham Greene's The End of the Affair, Jason got his biggest international break to date when he was picked to portray the villain, Colonel William Tavington, in Roland Emmerich's Revolutionary War epic The Patriot (2000).
Starring opposite Mel Gibson, who played the film's hero, Jason made an unnervingly memorable impression as a fictional sadistic British army officer, emerging as one of summer 2000's most indelible screen presences.
Although his work in the film earned him comparisons to Ralph Fiennes' portrayal of evil Nazi Amon Göth in Schindler's List and talks of a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination, the actor was not content to be typecast in the historical-scum mold.
Thus, he signed on to play none other than a drag queen for his next project, Sweet November, a romantic comedy-drama starring Charlize Theron and Keanu Reeves.
Isaacs has appeared in many films such as Black Hawk Down, Divorcing Jack, Dragonheart, Event Horizon and The End of the Affair.
Notable roles include Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter series, as well as Captain Hook/Mr. Darling in P. J. Hogan's adaptation of Peter Pan.
Isaacs has also appeared in episodes of The West Wing and stars in the Showtime series Brotherhood. He was seen in the UK mini-series The State Within (2006) on BBC One and BBC America.
In 2007 he featured in the Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino horror flick Grindhouse, in the fake trailer segment entitled "Don't".
Between 2 February and 24 March 2007, Isaacs appeared on stage in Harold Pinter's The Dumb Waiter, his first theatre job in six years.
Isaacs and his wife, BBC documentary filmmaker Emma Hewitt, have two daughters: Lily (born 23 March 2002) and Ruby (26 August 2005).