celebrity

A skirt, an arm sniff, and the internet's long-standing love affair with Oscar Isaac.

Oscar Isaac breathes, and social media flails.

It's been that way for a while: from the many wholesome, viral moments from his friendship with Pedro Pascal, to last year's internet-breaking Cannes red carpet moment with Jessica Chastain.

Most recently, it's been occasions from his very busy press tour for the new Disney+ Marvel series Moon Knight. There have been skirts. And co-star Ethan Hawke's reaction to the skirts. And Isaac's reaction to Hawke's reaction to the skirts. And Hawke's reaction to Isaac's reaction to his reaction to the skirts.

So on and so on, forevermore. We hope.

Long story short: 43-year-old Oscar Isaac, one of the most versatile actors in Hollywood, is as beloved by moviegoers and pop culture junkies as he is by his many, many famous friends and colleagues.

He is what we call an 'internet boyfriend': a loosely defined phenomenon in which specific celebrities infiltrate our social media feeds, and spurn endless memes, wonder and thirst. Think Stanley Tucci and his bartending videos, Timothée Chalamet and his jaw, Dev Patel and his... everything.

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And right now, if there were a hierarchy, Isaac would be King of the IBs.

Born Óscar Isaac Hernández Estrada in Guatemala City, Guatemala, Isaac and his family settled in Miami, Florida, when he was a child. 

He grew up tag teaming between music - his 90s punk band once opened for Green Day - and acting, until making a choice when he was accepted in the acting program at New York's prestigious Juilliard School in the early 2000s.

Early on, he dropped his actual last name, Hernandez, in favour of his middle name, Isaac - and immediately found he was offered a much wider variety of auditions.

"They define you – 'Latino actor, we'll just bring him in for Spanish commercials,'" Isaac reflected in a 2016 Rolling Stone interview. "I'm interested in telling stories about the human experience that are not necessarily just about my personal circumstances. So how do I navigate that? I feel like I've been able to."

Though, ironically, he said the change meant he missed out on a role as "a Cuban guy", despite being half-Cuban.

His first major role was in 2006, as Joseph in the biblical epic The Nativity Story, opposite Keisha Castle-Hughes. In 2009, he had success down under when he was awarded the Australian Film Institute Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2009 for his role as former East Timor President José Ramos-Horta in Balibo.

It was his role as a folk singer in Inside Llewyn Davis which catapulted him from supporting actor to leading man and started a succession of critical acclaim.

With such a solid career behind him, it was inevitable that Isaac's star would rise to internet boyfriend-level proportions when he gained roles in huge franchises, including the Star Wars sequel trilogy, X-Men: Apocalypse, and 2021's much-talked about Dune.

Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac have been friends for 20 years. In 2021, they starred in Scenes From a Marriage together. Image: Getty.

In the same year, he portrayed one half of TV's most toxic couple in the brutal, slow-paced Scenes From A Marriage and voiced Gomez Addams in The Addams Family 2.

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I mentioned his versatility, right? But being a great actor does not automatically make someone an internet phenomenon. 

A contributing factor could be that Isaac keeps his personal life mostly private. There is an air of mystery around him.

He does not have social media, though his wife - Oscar-nominated Danish filmmaker Elvira Lind - offers glimpses into their lives on her Instagram account. According to Lind, they had only five guests at their wedding. Together, they have two sons, Eugene, born in 2017, and Mads, born in 2019.

He rarely talks about them, though Linds is a regular on red carpets. In Cannes, when footage of him sniffing (or kissing, the jury is out) the arm of Chastain was deemed the Hottest Thing to Ever Happen, Linds was just out of shot, laughing at the ridiculousness of it all.

And yet, despite seemingly everything to the contrary, Isaac has a habit of courting publicity in the best way.

In the mid-2010s, a scene of his character dancing in Ex Machina became meme fodder after its release thanks to a (now-suspended) Twitter account called @oscardances which dubbed the scene over different songs. It didn't really have much to do with him, but it was still endearing.

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He has a large group of famous friends: from fellow online faves like The Mandalorian's Pascal, to Succession's Jeremy Strong, to Chastain, who he has known since they attended Juilliard at the same time 20 years ago. Their public interactions are always wholesome, fun and full of jokes.

Then there's steamy Isaac.

People loved when he and Marisa Tomei teamed up for a reading of a sexy Beirut scene during 2020's lockdowns. They loved it again when he jokingly fondled the ear of his Dune co-star Rebecca Ferguson in a video interview.

The Chastain arm moment was this subtle eroticism of Isaac at its most viral. 

This is all why the Moon Knight skirt moment was Peak Oscar Isaac.

At the London premiere on March 17, Isaac wore a Thom Browne skirt suit. His stylist Michael Fisher told Vogue he'd "been wanting to wear skirts for press and events" for a while now. 

It was fun, and as one tweet pointed out, a hark back to his days as the frontman of a punk band. On the red carpet, he smiled and posed, and at one point even bit his lip.

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Image: Getty.

The internet liked it, and so did his co-star Hawke - which then gave the internet more to like. Because the only thing that gets people chatting more than one internet boyfriend is an interaction between multiple internet boyfriends.

The key, it seems, to internet boyfriend success is a neatly wrapped package of wholesomeness, humour and fun. They vary from the clean-cut handsomeness of Henry Golding to the charming, socially conscious Michael B. Jordan to... well, the pure chaos that is Robert Pattinson.

Does Isaac know this? Unclear. But his answer when asked about the internet's collective crush on him did lean rather heavily into his accidental, most-enduring role.

"The internet never struck me as being into monogamous relationships," he joked to Rolling Stone. "It's very promiscuous, the internet."

I mean, he's not wrong. But if Isaac continues this trajectory, maybe he could finally be the one to get the internet to settle down.

Chelsea McLaughlin is Mamamia's Senior Entertainment Writer. For more pop culture takes, sarcasm and... cat content, you can follow her on Instagram.

Feature image: Getty/Mamamia.

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