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British actor Jason Isaacs says he never plays it safe when it comes to embracing new opportunities.
But he still remembers being a bit confused when he got a call a few weeks ago from Guy Ben-Aharon, co-founder of a Boston-based community organization called The Jar.
"He got in touch, he said, 'You want to be part of the conversation on urgent love with D.A. Rachael Rollins?' " Isaacs recalls. "And I went, 'I don't know what any of that sentence means. I have no idea what I have to offer.' And he said, 'That’s OK. That's great.' "
And yes, he’s talking about Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins.
The unlikely duo will take part in "Urgent Love," a 90-minute online presentation presented by The Jar and hosted by WBUR's Cristela Guerra Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Rollins says she hadn't thought much about the phrase “urgent love” until Ben-Aharon gave her a piece of his vision.
"Recognizing the insane moment we're living in right now, there is a real sense of urgency," said Ben-Aharon when I asked him where the concept came from. "The world is on fire. It is urgent for us to act out of love. What does it look like?"
"So when I heard the words," Rollins said, "I thought, wow, yeah, I want to be involved in this, even though it's with, like, a Malfoy from Harry Potter."
So what do a fiery, progressive district attorney and the man who played the villainous Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter films have to say about loving people urgently?
Ben-Aharon hopes the mystery will be part of the magic when they two meet one another virtually for the first time Saturday night.
"They do completely different things in the world, they have completely different experiences being who they are," Ben-Aharon explains. "And yet their approach to what they're doing and how they want to make a difference is the same. It's driven by love."
The event will be the first of three in The Jar's "Urgent Love" series, which will pair unlikely voices to discuss what "urgent love" means to them.
The 30-year-old Ben-Aharon is no stranger to using the arts to bring people together dating back to his time running Boston’s Israeli Stage.
"The world is on fire. It is urgent for us to act out of love."Guy Ben-Aharon
And neither is Isaacs — who has appeared on shows like Avatar: The Last Airbender that explore challenging human issues through fiction.
"And I think that actually in these times when people are rotten with cynicism that it's fiction and it's the storytellers that can talk about the essential truths of humanity so they can reappraise how they engage with the world," Isaacs said.
But this moment is different, with people seeking connection and solace amid the traumas of the coronavirus pandemic and nationwide awakenings to racial injustice.
When Rollins thinks of urgency right now, she pictures Breonna Taylor — the 26-year-old Black woman shot and killed by Louisville police in March — and what she calls a lack of justice for Taylor and her family.
"We are no longer waiting and patient because in this moment we see that there needs to be urgency," Rollins said. "She saved people's lives and we didn't save hers. We didn't show up for that woman who gave so much of herself."
Isaacs admits that as a white English man, he might have to do more listening than talking when that topic comes up tomorrow. But he says he's eager to learn and to be part of the solution.
"I'm a storyteller," he said. "Our worlds seem barely to overlap. And yet I'd be very surprised if by the end of the evening, we hadn't found a million things we had in common more than we have that set us apart. I feel a crescendo of need to help myself by helping others."
And Rollins says that need, that urgent desire to love isn't always the beautiful, lighthearted feeling people make it out to be.
"It's not always roses," she said. "There’s tension. There is sacrifice. There is rage. But there is love at the end because your heart recognizes that the bigger picture is bigger than your ego in that moment."
And in this moment, whether it's patient and kind or it's urgent and challenging, Rollins and Isaacs hope they can spread some love at a time when people need it.
Tickets for "Urgent Love" can be found here. Ticket sales end Friday at 11: 30 p.m.
This segment aired on September 25, 2020.
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