A psychic octopus. The tree internet. Chomping on live birds in an inter-dimensional plane. These are just some of the elements that made The OA endlessly interesting, often maddening and arguably the most unique TV ever made.
In fact, the mystery sci-fi drama was so unconventional that many fans theorised Netflix didn’t cancel the show after all, believing the news was a great big hoax. And let’s face it, considering the mega-meta ending of The OA’s second and final season, this doesn’t seem too farfetched.
However, star Jason Isaacs (who played Dr Hunter Aloysius Percy or ‘Hap’) has confirmed The OA has really been cancelled – but not because not enough people watched it.
“I was crushed [when The OA was cancelled],” he told RadioTimes.com. “It’s one of the odd things that happen in the new media world that you’re cancelled not because of numbers, but because of other corporate needs.
“Netflix needs to build subscribers and they make their decisions on a bunch of other things, which are not to do with the number of people watching, more to do with how many people they can get to sign up.”
He added: “I know the Netflix execs who made the decision to cancel it felt equally sad because they had five seasons mapped out and the show has this rabid committed fanbase. Those people felt very upset. I wouldn’t want to be sitting in the Netflix executive chairs!”
Despite the cancellation, The OA still maintains a strong fanbase, with the show being crowned RadioTimes.com Sci-Fi and Fantasy Champion 2019. With over 1.3 million votes cast in the final round, Isaacs said that he and the creators of The OA (Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij) “took solace” from the result.
What kind of person solicits outside help to swing a legitimate popular vote? Scum, that's who.
— Jason Isaacs (@jasonsfolly) October 9, 2019
The actor also addressed the #SaveTheOA campaign to revive the show, which included fans taking out an advert at New York’s Times Square. One woman even went on hunger strike outside Netflix HQ at Sunset Boulevard.
“It was both heart-warming and upsetting to see how much it had affected people and how upset they were,” Isaacs said. “I’ve seen many shows been cancelled, a number of which I thought were great. But as one door closes, another one opens.”
Although Isaacs didn’t reveal what would have taken place in the show’s third season, he did open up about Dr Hap’s feelings towards Prairie (Brit Marling), one of his prisoners.
“He’s a man who thinks the ultimate reward for mankind is so great that he’s prepared to shoulder the moral burden of doing some appalling things to people. And then he falls in love with one of them,” he said. “He hopes that [Prairie] will be able to step outside of her situation and appreciate him for the visionary he is.”
While UK fans won’t be able to see Isaacs in a third season of The OA soon, they will be able to watch the actor in Star Trek: Discovery, which has just blasted off on E4. Fortunately, however, his character in the Starfleet series, Captain Gabriel Lorca, isn’t too far removed from Dr Hap: both are male leaders with a dark streak.
Explaining Lorca, Isaacs said: “I’m trying to win a war against the Klingons and use this science vessel as a warship and I’m surrounded by all these hippy do-gooders who I think are taking part in some sort of social experiment and missing the point.”
Though he’s tackled some challenging material on both shows, Isaacs didn’t find either role too tough a challenge. “Acting is never difficult,” he says. “You’re either pretending to fall in love with somebody you don’t like very much or you’re imagining an alien spaceship is firing rockets at you.
“You just have to do what three-year-olds do in the playground all the time – just make it feel like it’s real.”
Interview by Huw Fullerton
Star Trek Discovery season one continues airing on E4 on Sundays at 8pm