On 21 August 2017, the Great American Eclipse caused a diagonal swathe of darkness to fall across the United States from Charleston, South Carolina on the East Coast to Lincoln City, Oregon on the West. In Manhattan, which was several hundred miles outside the path of totality, a gentle gloom fell over the city. Yet still office workers emptied out onto the pavements, wearing special paper glasses if they had been organised; holding up their phones and blinking nervously if they hadn’t. Despite promises that it was to be lit up for the occasion, there was no discernible twinkle from the Empire State Building; on Fifth Avenue, the darkened glass façade of Trump Tower grew a little dimmer. In Central Park Zoo, where children and tourists brandished pinhole cameras made from cereal boxes, Betty, a grizzly bear, seized the opportunity to take an unscrutinised dip.
Across the East River in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Oscar Isaac, a 38-year-old Guatemalan-American actor and one of the profession’s most talented, dynamic and versatile recent prospects, was, like Betty, feeling too much in the sun. It was his day off from playing Hamlet in an acclaimed production at the Public Theater in Manhattan and he was at home on vocal rest. He kept a vague eye on the sky from the balcony of the one-bedroom apartment he shares — until their imminent move to a leafier part of Brooklyn — with his wife, the Danish documentary film-maker Elvira Lind, their Boston Terrier French Bulldog-cross Moby (also called a “Frenchton”, though not by him), and more recently, and to Moby’s initial consternation, their four-month-old son, Eugene.