On a series full of standout comedic performances, like CBS’s Ghosts, it takes a lot to stand out. Yet, that is exactly what Brandon Scott Jones does with his work as Captain Isaac Higgintoot. Isaac is the ghost of a closeted gay American Revolutionary War officer who died of dysentery during the war.
Now he longs for two things: to be remembered for his role in history which was cut short by his untimely death and the attention of the ghost of Nigel (John Hartman), the British officer he admired from afar before accidently killing while gazing at him through a rifle scope he invented.
The series tells the story of a group of ghosts stuck on earth, just waiting to be “sucked off.” (The phrase is how the ghosts describe being pulled off earth and taken to Heaven. Shame on you.) As you can tell from this clever double entendre there’s more to the humor and the characters than what may first appear. That is part of the magic of Ghosts.
This is especially true for Captain Isaac, a character who lives with a secret about his sexuality, one that just about every other character on the show already knows. This includes the only living human in the house who can see him, Samantha (played by Rose McIver). She sees them, but also “sees” them better than they can at times.
Jones credits the team and his fellow cast members for the success of the show. “The process that everybody sort of brings to it, like, what research maybe one person has done, and what instinct some other person may have. When you have an environment like that, it’s absolutely the best thing that you can have when you’re an actor – you just feel so safe, you feel so excited to keep exploring,” said Jones.
While the strength of the ensemble certainly is important, what Jones brings to the series and his character is impeccable comic timing, heart, and nuance. His experience in comedy on such shows as The Good Place and his improv work with the Upright Citizens Brigade shines through. It explains how Jones consistently delivers some of the funniest, sharpest lines of the series. He also brings a level of emotional authenticity to Isaac that makes his romance and struggle to be himself land with great impact.
“By the time we finally meet that love interest, I felt a whole new level of connection to playing Isaac, because I remember those feelings. I remember seeing somebody that you were attracted to, that you didn’t feel like you could be. I was very lucky that like midway through the season, I got that jolt, that gave me that little extra layer from the writing staff and their producers to really start playing with. It was really cathartic in a lot of ways to almost on steroids play this character who went through something that I went through when I was younger,” revealed Jones.
One moment that closed out season one captured the hearts of viewers. It was a romantic peak reached after being worked up to all season – the expression of Issac’s affection for Nigel. When we finally reached it, with the help of Jones’ creative input on how it was handled. He approached showrunners, Joe Port and Joe Wiseman with an idea, “I love that this is where we want it to end. But I’m wondering if we can maybe adjust this a little bit to really honor the idea that being in the closet and then coming out of the closet, it’s not just a light switch it is this long gradual process of not just feeling accepted by others, but feeling accepted within yourself,” pitched Jones. Instead of a bold statement of love or a kiss, it was three small words that choked up audiences, “I like you.” Perfection.
Be sure to check out my full interview with Brandon (below). It was a pleasure to speak with him because he brings a lot of energy to the conversation, but he also was very candid about his experiences, his life, and his work on the series. If you think you know everything about Brandon, Issac or Ghosts… just you wait.
Ghosts airs on CBS and is streaming in its entirety on Paramount+.