Fans were ecstatic when they learned Oscar Isaac was poised to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a key player. Not only that but one with a unique level of complexity: Moon Knight. The hero suffers from Disassociate Identity Disorder (DID), which ends up with the character developing multiple distinct personalities—all while believing he was gifted superpowers by the Egyptian Moon God Khonshu.
After Isaac’s experience on the Star Wars franchise, many thought he might never return to a Disney project—something he all but said himself. But thankfully, fate had a different idea.
The upcoming Disney+ show isn’t just full of big names like Isaac, however. For instance, Lucy Thackeray makes her MCU debut as Donna, the boss of the Egyptian museum that Steven Grant works at.
The Direct sat down with Thackeray to talk about her time on the high-profile MCU project, what it was like working with Oscar Isaac, and the intense secrecy that Marvel Studios is known for.
The Isaac Charm and Marvel Secrecy
In an exclusive interview, The Direct's Russ Milheim got to sit down with Moon Knight actress Lucy Thackeray to talk about her role as Donna in the new Disney+ series and what it was like to work with Oscar Isaac.
Thackeray was quick to praise the renowned actor, saying that the experience “was really amazing” and that he was "really generous" and “a real… actor’s actor:”
“It was really amazing, and [laughs] I was really nervous on my first day; because it’s Oscar Isaac. You know? He was so lovely, and a real… actor’s actor. So he’s really generous. It’s a real collaboration. I’ve worked on things where you’ve had quite a big name in it, and you’re kinda not allowed to talk to them. Or not allowed to offer any suggestions or anything like that… with egos and you really do feel that there’s a hierarchy on set. But I really didn’t feel that at all on Moon Knight.”
While she noted how she “think[s] a lot of that was Oscar,” the actress also put the spotlight on one of the show’s directors, Mohamed Diab, who “was so enthusiastic and had so much energy:”
“I think a lot of that was Oscar, because he’s so generous, and also Mohamed Diab, [one of the] the director[s]. [Diab] was so enthusiastic and had so much energy. It just put me at ease straight away… Oscar Isaac doesn’t really feel like a film star to me anymore, do you know what I mean? He’s so normal… and lovely. It was great fun.”
Something that really blew her away was getting high praise from Oscar Isaac in his trailer reaction video with Ethan Hawke. Thackeray exclaimed how “[she] didn’t even know I was going to be in the trailer” and that the whole situation “was so surreal:”
“Yeah, I mean… [I thought], ‘What?’ I had lots of people text me all at the same time. [They were like,] ‘You must watch this video!’ I didn’t know I was going to be in the trailer, I should mention. So, that morning, 'cause obviously it went out in America first when I was in bed. So I woke up in the morning to all these text messages from people I haven’t seen for years… when I saw Oscar and Ethan [Hawke] watching the video, it was so surreal, but everyone thinks I’m very cool now.”
As for if all of her scenes with Oscar Isaac made it into the final product, the actress was surprised to see that “it all got in,” something she noted is “very rare for [her]:”
“No, actually. It all got in, which is very rare for me. I’m usually first on the cutting room floor [laughs]... it was just a lot of fun, I dunno, people just liked Donna. They always laughed on set; they probably were just being very polite, but... That stuff always got sort of big laughs, so because Moon Knight is so, not heavy, but it goes to some dark places, I think that they needed the comic relief that Donna brings.”
When it came to her initial audition for Moon Knight, the secrecy surrounding the project was just as one would expect. When she sent in her tape, not only was it “for Untitled Marvel Project,” but Thackeray also “didn’t even know at that point that [her character] was called Donna:”
“So, I auditioned… my agent emailed with this tape to do for Untitled Marvel Project. And I thought, ‘well, there’s no way I’m going to get that job.’ So I kinda like… obviously I put the effort in, but I kind of rushed it. I thought, ‘There’s no point. They must be seeing thousands of people.’ Anyway, I did the tape and thought nothing of it. A couple of weeks later, I got… a call from my agent saying that you are on a shortlist for the Marvel [project]. And I was like, ‘Okay… this is… I still don’t quite believe it.’ And then I think about a week after that my agent rang… and he was like really calm about it. [He] said, ‘so you’ve had an offer from Marvel to play Donna,’ and in fact, I didn’t even know at that point that she was called Donna. They changed all the characters’ names.”
When she ended up getting the role, the actress admitted she was “in a bit of shock,” which didn’t stop her from “jump[ing] up and down like a child:”
“It was really exciting, and I was sort of in a bit of shock. And then I jumped up and down like a child. It was stupidly exciting. I was kind of still in shock by it."
Moon Knight had the unique opportunity to go to Budapest to film the series. Thackeray revealed that “[she] went to Budapest twice,” with the first time being at the height of COVID lockdown. This led to her and the other actors being “confined to [a] five-star hotel:”
“I mean, that was great. I went out to Budapest twice. The first time was the height of [COVID] lockdown in Hungary. So there were no tourists, everything was closed. So me and the other actors were just sort of confined to this five-star hotel, which was quite lovely.”
Despite the challenges that those times presented, the actress admitted how she “felt really luck to [have been] able to travel at that time” in the first place:
“But yeah, it was great… I felt really lucky to [have been] able to travel at that time, when nobody else could. I mean, [Hungary] didn’t make it easy. We had to have like a thousand forms and you know, all of this, and have an interview with a very stern-looking woman. But yeah, it was great fun… and the second time I went out, it had relaxed a bit, so I got to see more of the real Budapest [which was great].”
The Oscar Isaac Variable
Sometimes there are stories about stars that make one question the revelry aimed at them. Other times, it’s quite the opposite—a clear picture is painted, one which showcases these names in a strong positive spotlight.
This is one of those good examples. The image of Isaac being given by Thackeray illustrates the actor as an integral part of Moon Knight’s success. There are a lot of egos in the film industry, and it’s no doubt fairly rare to come across a big name (seemingly) without one.
Hopefully, the actor will be a cornerstone of the Marvel Cinematic Universe for many years to come. After all, with that team Blade looks to be building, the Fist of Khonshu could be quite the asset.
As for Thackeray herself, the actress is just getting started with her MCU debut, and the mention of Budapest should be a hopeful sign that there are even more Donna antics to come.
Moon Knight streams weekly every Wednesday exclusively on Disney+.