Major spoilers for Sex Education season 2 below.
When George Robinson’s character, Isaac, pops up during Sex Education season 2, there’s finally someone in town with a razor-sharp wit that can hold his own against resident genius bad girl Maeve Wiley. Isaac moves into the caravan park next to the Moordale student and is unafraid to push her buttons and pull pranks. But much like we saw with Maeve during the first season of the hit Netflix series, Isaac’s walls begin to crumble and we get to see more into what makes him tick.
“With Maeve, Isaac feels like he wants to drop that side and sort of express himself. Because what Isaac seems to do is deflect quite a lot while he projects his actual feelings,” George tells Teen Vogue. “With Maeve, he seems to have found someone who he feels like he can express himself truly.”
Isaac is one of the new characters introduced to Sex Education that shakes things up for the beloved core cast from the first season. His addition does much more than just complicating the love triangle between Maeve and Otis; Isaac uses a wheelchair, furthering the series’ dedication to showing the multiplicity of today’s world through the microcosm of a horny secondary school in the United Kingdom. To George, it seemed like a “no brainer” that the show would explore disability considering how “unapologetically diverse” it is. George, who uses a wheelchair in real life as well, was also relieved that they were going with an actor who actually has a disability.
“Everyone pretty much knows someone who has a disability and yet the representation in media doesn't seem to be there in the same way, even though it’s certainly changing,” he says. “There’s been the precedent in the past of having wheelchair characters not being played by people in wheelchairs. I just thought that was such a refreshing thing when I got the call.”
Ever since Sex Education released first-look images of his character, George has received many lovely messages from people sharing their pride and relief that the show is incorporating a disabled character portrayed by a person with a disability. He points to movies such as Me Before You and The Upside as stories about disabled people that weren’t authentically cast.
“I haven't seen either of those films just because they don't really interest me as a thing. So I'm sure that the actors in question probably smashed it,” he says. “But there's always that thing in the back of your mind. Just thinking, yeah, it doesn't seem genuine. They've all seemed to be a medium through which an actor can flex their acting muscles. While nothing authentically portrayed the story of a disabled person.”
Originally from outside of Peterborough, England, about four years ago when he was 17, he was on a school rugby tour in South Africa when he threw himself into a tackle during a match in which he broke his neck between the C4 and C5 vertebrae. He had always loved the collaborative art of acting and performed in some school productions, but after his injury he took some time off.
“I thought to myself, do I want to pursue acting again? With acting, I just found such joy beforehand that I didn't want to lose that after,” George says, who is now 22. “That was an aspect of myself that I didn't want to lose. So I just thought, suck it up, George. This is the new you. Be comfortable with yourself. Like I say, throwing myself into it. I throw myself into everything, which is probably one reason why I'm in this chair.”
The actor sees that sense of humor as something that he shares with his character, downplaying difficult situations with dry jokes. He said he could “certainly empathize with Isaac,” and dialed up some of those parts to portray him, which makes for quite the comical performance in the series. There’s one scene when Maeve and Isaac show up to a party at Otis’s house which require stairs to get down to. Isaac jokes about the situation and then cooks up a solution, which includes asking Maeve’s ex Jackson and the other athletes for some help down the stairs without realizing their history. Once he does, he of course brashly ups the awkwardness of it all by asking, “so, who broke whose heart?”
George also notes how fantastic it was working with Emma Mackey in most of his scenes and that he learned so much while working with her. She’s both “incredibly talented” and “generous on screen,” which helped him feel comfortable on set. While he says he wasn’t really nervous about his first day on set because it was such a new experience, he wanted to immerse himself as much as possible and that he probably irritated director Ben Taylor a bit with all his questions.
Isaac also plays a huge part in the finale’s cliffhanger. After Otis (Asa Butterfield) leaves Maeve a voicemail confessing his love for her, Isaac intercepts the message and deletes it. It’s a move that’s sure to drive Otis and Maeve shippers into chaos, but George stands by his character’s actions.
“If you look over the entire show, it could be seen to be an underhanded thing to do,” he says. “From Issac's point of view, the only interaction that he has had with Otis is at the party where he's being a bit of a dick and he's being quite nasty to Maeve. So when Issac hears this voicemail, he sort of just thinks, well I'm going to protect Maeve from that. I'm always going to be team Issac on this. I think it's a job as an actor to be their representative, to be their lawyer.”
A third season of Sex Education has yet to be formally announced, but in the likely case it does, George can’t wait to explore the fall out. He’d also like his character to have interactions with some other characters, including Aimee, an example of two polar opposites that make for quite the hilarious pairing as seen briefly during one scene in the party episode. He has complete trust in creator Laurie Nunn’s stellar writing and hopes that Isaac gets to interact with any of the other well-drawn characters.
As for things in George’s future, he has some ideas.
“If they're ever going to do a Professor X reboot, I'm always available. I've got the razor ready for the head,” he jokes. “But yeah, I'm really open-minded about anything, to be honest. Whether that be a comedy or anything, I'm all in. I'm not going to limit myself in terms of what a role is ... I mean, a Martin Luther King biopic is probably out of the question, but you know.”
Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue