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Gary Oldman

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Subject: Sid and Nancy, 1997 in film, The Scarlet Letter (1995 film), RoboCop (2014 film), Kung Fu Panda 2
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Gary Oldman

Gary Oldman
Oldman in 2014.
Born (1958-03-21) 21 March 1958
New Cross, London, England
Occupation Actor, filmmaker, musician
Years active 1979–present
Spouse(s) Lesley Manville (m. 1987; div. 1989)
Uma Thurman (m. 1990; div. 1992)
Donya Fiorentino (m. 1997; div. 2001)
Alexandra Edenborough (m. 2008; div. 2015)
Children 3
Family Laila Morse (sister)

Gary Leonard Oldman[1] (born 21 March 1958)[2] is an English actor, filmmaker, musician and author. He began acting in theatre in 1979, and gained his first starring film role in Meantime (1983). Oldman continued to lead a stage career, in which he performed at the Royal Court Theatre and was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company until the late 1980s. He rose to prominence in British film with his portrayals of Sid Vicious in Sid and Nancy (1986) and playwright Joe Orton in Prick Up Your Ears (1987), as well as those of a football firm leader in The Firm (1989) and the titular Rosencrantz in Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (1990).

Oldman went on to achieve international renown as an Irish American gangster in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011), and human leader Dreyfus in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014). Oldman also voiced the antagonist Lord Shen in Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011).

Renowned for his "big" acting style and on-screen diversity,[3] Oldman has been cited as the best British actor of his generation.[4] As of 2015, films in which he has starred have grossed over $4 billion in the US, and over $10.6 billion worldwide.[5] Outside of acting in film, Oldman wrote and directed Nil by Mouth (1997), guested in the Friends two-part episode "The One with Monica and Chandler's Wedding" (2001), featured in music videos by artists including David Bowie and Guns N' Roses, and provided the voice of Viktor Reznov in the Call of Duty video game series. Among other honours, he has won two BAFTA Awards and a Saturn Award, and has received nominations for Academy, Emmy, and Screen Actors Guild Awards, as well as the Palme d'Or.


  • Early life 1
  • Acting career 2
    • Theatre and early films (1979–1990) 2.1
    • Villain roles and mainstream success (1991–2001) 2.2
    • Career slump (2001–2003) 2.3
    • Resurgence and franchise stardom (2004–present) 2.4
    • Future projects 2.5
  • Other ventures 3
    • Filmmaking 3.1
    • Music 3.2
    • Voice acting 3.3
    • Writing 3.4
  • Acting style 4
  • Legacy 5
  • Personal life 6
    • Marriages and family 6.1
  • Controversy 7
    • Playboy interview 7.1
  • Filmography 8
  • Awards and nominations 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11

Early life

Oldman was born in New Cross, London, the son of Kathleen (née Cheriton; born 28 November 1919), a housewife, and Leonard Bertram Oldman (21 May 1921 – October 1985), a former sailor who also worked as a welder.[6][7] He has stated that Leonard was an alcoholic who left the family when Oldman was seven years old.[8] Oldman attended West Greenwich School in Deptford, leaving school at the age of 16 to work in a sports shop.[9] He was a pianist as a child, and later a singer, but gave up his musical aspirations to pursue an acting career after seeing Malcolm McDowell's performance in the 1971 film The Raging Moon.[10][11][12] In a 1995 interview with Charlie Rose, Oldman said: "Something about Malcolm just arrested me, and I connected, and I said, 'I wanna do that'."[13]

Growing up in south London, Oldman supported his local football club

  • Gary Oldman at the Internet Movie Database
  • Gary Oldman at AllMovie
  • Interview with Gary Oldman on his directorial debut – Nil by Mouth
  • Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing: The Strange Career of Gary Oldman

External links

  1. ^ Births, Marriages & Deaths Index of England & Wales, 1916–2005.
  2. ^ (subscription required)
  3. ^ a b c d e Gary Oldman – Biography at the Wayback Machine (archived July 9, 2012). Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Gary Oldman: The spy who came in, and brought the cold with him". The Independent. Retrieved 22 June 2015
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b Gary Oldman – Biography (page 1). TalkTalk. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
  7. ^
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  9. ^ a b Fulton, Rick. "Gary Oldman: My career has been good but my kids are my biggest accomplishment". Daily Record. 18 March 2011. Retrieved 18 March 2011.
  10. ^
  11. ^
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  13. ^ a b c d e
  14. ^ a b Gary Oldman – Biography (page 2). TalkTalk. Retrieved 25 February 2012.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g Gary Oldman – Biography (page 3). TalkTalk. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
  16. ^ Interview with Gary Oldman for the Screen Actors Guild Foundation, moderated by Jenelle Riley, 3 December 2011.
  17. ^ a b c d e
  18. ^ a b Gary Oldman – Biography (page 4). TalkTalk. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
  19. ^
  20. ^ a b Gary Oldman interview by Terry Gross. Fresh Air. National Public Radio. 12 February 1998.
  21. ^ a b c
  22. ^ a b
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  24. ^ a b Zap, Claudine. Actors' dramatic weight loss for roles. Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  25. ^
  26. ^ Uncut magazine, issue No. 117, February 2007.
  27. ^ a b Winning, Josh. Best Movies: The film chameleon’s greatest moments. Total Film. 11 April 2011. Retrieved 4 October 2011.
  28. ^ Ebert, Roger. The Chicago Sun-Times, film review, 14 September 1990. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  29. ^ a b c
  30. ^ a b c d e f
  31. ^ a b c Stern, Marlow. "Gary Oldman Talks 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,' 'Batman' Retirement". The Daily Beast. 8 December 2011. Retrieved 1 February 2012.
  32. ^
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  35. ^ True Romance (1993) – Drexl Spivey. MSN Movies. 2011. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
  36. ^
  37. ^ a b
  38. ^
  39. ^ See Creation and legacy of Norman Stansfield.
  40. ^ a b
  41. ^ a b
  42. ^ Hannibal DVD "Making of feature"
  43. ^ Kermode, Mark. Great Acting in Bad Films. BBC. 27 January 2012. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
  44. ^ Nesselson, Lisa (24 September 2003). reviewTiptoes at the Wayback Machine (archived December 4, 2010). Variety. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  45. ^ a b Brooks, Xan. "Gary Oldman: from Sid to Smiley: the rollercoaster story of a true British great". The Guardian. 9 February 2012. Retrieved 2 March 2012.
  46. ^
  47. ^ Mark Kermode reviews 'The Dark Knight' on YouTube. BBC Radio 5 Live. 25 July 2008. Retrieved 29 August 2012.
  48. ^
  49. ^ Morris, Clint (30 November 2007). Gary Oldman joins A Christmas Carol at the Wayback Machine (archived December 13, 2007).
  50. ^
  51. ^
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  54. ^
  55. ^
  56. ^
  57. ^
  58. ^ The bfi 100: Nil By Mouth (1997) at the Wayback Machine (archived February 15, 2012). Retrieved 31 January 2012
  59. ^
  60. ^
  61. ^
  62. ^
  63. ^ "Lego Dimensions Voice Talent Includes Michael J.Fox, Chris Pratt and Gary Oldman". Forbes. Retrieved 5 September 2015
  64. ^
  65. ^
  66. ^ Sexton, Timothy. How Gary Oldman Avoided Typecasting as a Weirdo, Villain at the Wayback Machine (archived January 11, 2012). Yahoo! Movies. 6 December 2011. Retrieved 11 August 2014.
  67. ^ Popcorn With Peter Travers. Season 5. Episode 15. 9 December 2011. "People who know you ... we remember the big Gary Oldman."
  68. ^
  69. ^ a b
  70. ^ The One Show. BBC One. 14 September 2011. "You're known for the in-depth research you do before going into any role."
  71. ^
  72. ^
  73. ^ Grant, Kieran (12 July 2011). Smiley Face: Gary Oldman at the Wayback Machine (archived July 17, 2011). Culturedeluxe. Retrieved 10 October 2011.
  74. ^
  75. ^ Cochrane, Kira (23 August 2007) The dark world of lads' mags at the Wayback Machine (archived October 13, 2007). New Statesman. Archived 22 January at WebCite
  76. ^
  77. ^
  78. ^
  79. ^
  80. ^ Masters, Tim. Empire awards: Gary Oldman named film icon. BBC News. 27 March 2011. Retrieved 17 May 2011.
  81. ^
  82. ^
  83. ^
  84. ^
  85. ^
  86. ^
  87. ^
  88. ^ a b
  89. ^ Acceptance speech for Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role. 17th Screen Actors Guild Awards. 30 January 2011. "There's so many different performances that inspire me, from different people... Gary Oldman, a friend of mine, who I think is one of the finest."
  90. ^ a b c
  91. ^ a b c d e
  92. ^
  93. ^
  94. ^
  95. ^ IGN Interview: Jason Isaacs. "The Harry Potter villain on his new miniseries, The State Within". By Eric Goldman. 15 February 2007. "Gary Oldman is a total hero of mine. I've always thought he was one of the best screen actors I've ever seen."
  96. ^ The South Bank Show: Gary Oldman. Season 21, Episode 15. ITV. 15 March 1998. "multi-talented... a great genius and flair for creativity."
  97. ^ Gettell, Oliver (22 November 2011). "Ralph Fiennes on which movie he can't wait to see next". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 30 November 2011.
  98. ^
  99. ^ "Gary Oldman presented with Empire Icon Award". Flickering Myth. 28 March 2011. Retrieved 5 May 2012.
  100. ^
  101. ^
  102. ^
  103. ^
  104. ^ "...the wonderful Gary Oldman."
  105. ^ " of my favourite actors."
  106. ^ Travers, Peter. review"Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy". Rolling Stone. 8 December 2011. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
  107. ^ Charity, Tom. "Top Film Baddies" at the Wayback Machine (archived January 1, 2011). LoveFilm. July 2008. Retrieved 26 November 2011.
  108. ^ Larnick, Eric. "Actors Who've Never Been Nominated for Oscars". Moviefone. 24 February 2011. Retrieved 18 March 2011.
  109. ^ Will Gary Oldman finally land an Oscar nod for 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy'? IMDb news (3 July 2011).
  110. ^ Singer, Leigh. "Oscars: the best actors never to have been nominated". The Guardian. 19 February 2009. Retrieved 11 January 2010.
  111. ^
  112. ^
  113. ^ Pond, Steve (16 December 2011). "Gary Oldman to be honored by Palm Springs film fest". Reuters. Retrieved 19 December 2011.
  114. ^ Kit, Borys (23 May 2012). Gary Oldman Joining MGM's 'Robocop' Remake. The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 29 May 2012.
  115. ^
  116. ^
  117. ^
  118. ^
  119. ^
  120. ^ a b
  121. ^ "Uma Thurman to wed again", The Seattle Times, 28 June 2008.
  122. ^ "Rossellini Says 'Ciao' To Manhattan Penthouse". Forbes. Retrieved 17 June 2014
  123. ^ in 2015
  124. ^
  125. ^
  126. ^
  127. ^ Mendelson, Scott (7 November 2008). Oh My God, They Killed Gary (Oldman)! Huffington Post. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
  128. ^
  129. ^ a b
  130. ^ a b
  131. ^


Awards and nominations


ADL director Abraham Foxman responded by claiming it only reinforced Oldman's antisemitism, and that Oldman saw the world too stereotypically. Foxman said: "I think [Oldman] feels bad about what he said, but the way he explains it underlines why he said what he said. I'd like to see a little more introspection, a little more understanding and a little more education rather than a statement that looks like a PR move."[130] Oldman made a public apology on the 25 June edition of late-night talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live!, where he stressed that he was "profoundly sorry" for his "insensitive, pernicious and ill-informed" remarks.[131]

“I see how insensitive they may be, and how they may indeed contribute to the furtherance of a false stereotype. Anything that contributes to this stereotype is unacceptable, including my own words on the matter. If, during the interview, I had been asked to elaborate on this point I would have pointed out that I had just finished reading Neal Gabler’s superb book about the Jews and Hollywood, An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews invented Hollywood. The fact is that our business, and my own career specifically, owes an enormous debt to that contribution.”[130]
(ADL), Oldman responded to them in an open letter: Anti-Defamation League). After vehement criticism from the Hollywood (referring to [129]. He stressed that he did not relate with most of their viewpoints but regarding the former agreed, "Mel Gibson is in a town that's run by Jews"Alec Baldwin and Mel Gibson's own discriminating hypocrisy, while arguing in support of former controversial celebrities entertainment industry in American media and the political correctness Oldman criticized what he saw as excessive [129],Dawn of the Planet of the Apes magazine while promoting PlayboyIn an interview in the July/August 2014 issue of

Playboy interview

Oldman's former wife Donya Fiorentino, as part of a child custody battle in 2001, claimed he had a drug habit and abused her. Oldman vehemently denied both the abuse and drug allegations, and described her as a "hopeless addict and liar" who, he claimed, had also been cheating on him. He subsequently claimed to partly be £2.7million in debt because his ex-wife had been constantly harassing him for money and subjecting him to 'psychological and emotional' abuse during their three-year marriage. She had also previously overdosed on cocaine, to which she was addicted, traumatising her young daughter who found her on the floor and presumed she was dead.[128]

Some media outlets reported that Oldman was unhappy with the finished product of The Contender (2000) because DreamWorks had edited the film to reflect pro-Democratic leanings, stirring controversy. The claims were declared sloppy sensationalism by Oldman's manager, Urbanski, who summarized that Oldman was "the least political person he knew", that "neither he nor Oldman had made the statements attributed to them," that they had "produced the film every last cut and frame," and that "DreamWorks did not influence the final cut or have anything to do with it."[126] It has been suggested that Oldman was blacklisted in Hollywood for several years as a result.[127]

Oldman was charged with drunk driving in 1991 after a night out in Los Angeles with actor Kiefer Sutherland. A deputy city attorney stated that Oldman's blood alcohol content was found to be more than twice California's limit for legal intoxication.[125]


On 31 December 2008, Oldman married English singer and actress Alexandra Edenborough in Santa Barbara, California.[123] Edenborough filed for divorce on January 9, 2015.[124] His sister Maureen (known professionally as Laila Morse) is an actress: she had a role in Oldman's directorial debut, Nil by Mouth (1997),[4] before going on to play Mo Harris in the long-running BBC series EastEnders.

Oldman has had four failed marriages. He married English actress Lesley Manville in 1987 but left her in 1989, three months after their son, Alfie, was born.[120] He met American actress Uma Thurman on the set of State of Grace, and they were married in 1990, but the marriage ended two years later.[121] Oldman then settled into a relationship with Italian actress and model Isabella Rossellini. The couple were rumoured to be engaged in July 1994, but separated two years later.[122] Oldman was married to Donya Fiorentino from 1997 to 2001 and had two sons with her. After a lengthy state investigation and trial, Oldman was granted sole legal and physical custody of the sons, and Fiorentino was only allowed occasional state-monitored visits.[120]

Marriages and family

[119].libertarian Oldman is a self-described [118] Oldman's problems with alcohol were well known during the early 1990s. After a string of alcohol-fuelled debacles he checked himself into Marworth treatment facility in

After establishing himself as an actor, Oldman moved to Los Angeles in the early 1990s.[30] Despite numerous lead and supporting roles in major Hollywood films, he is intensely private about his personal life and is known for his stance on celebrity and the ideals of Hollywood, stating: "Being famous, that's a whole other career. And I haven't got any energy for it."[30]

Personal life

Some of 2011's stand-out film actors appeared in "a video gallery of cinematic villainy" for New York Times Magazine. In early 2012, he contributed in a YouTube video posted by Jimmy Kimmel titled Movie: The Movie. He portrayed shortly a centaur at a medical clinic. Many other famous actors were also present at the trailer.[115]

Prominent film critics such as Roger Ebert,[22][102][103] Gene Siskel,[104][105] Janet Maslin,[29] and Peter Travers have also been outspoken in their appreciation of Oldman; Travers described him as "one of the best actors on the planet."[106][107] Prior to his first Academy Award nomination for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Oldman was widely regarded as one of the greatest actors never nominated for such an award;[9][108][109] Leigh Singer of The Guardian called him "arguably the best actor never Oscar-nominated."[110] He carries the label of the greatest actor never to win the Oscar.[111][112] In December 2011, the Palm Springs International Film Festival announced that Oldman would be receiving its International Star Award, which honours "an actor or actress who has achieved both critical and commercial international recognition throughout their body of work." The PSIFF chairman called Oldman "a performer whose ability to portray the most extreme of characters is a testament to the enormity of his talent."[113] In 2012, The Hollywood Reporter named Oldman the highest-grossing actor in history, based on lead and supporting roles.[114]

Oldman has garnered critical acclaim for his diverse performances and portrayals of real-life historical figures[17][81][82] and is noted for his avoidance of the Hollywood celebrity scene,[83] often being referred to as an "actor's actor".[6] Oldman's work has been acclaimed by many Hollywood figures: Tom Hardy has described Oldman as his hero, adding "everybody [at drama school] used to quote him in all of his films",[84] and regards him as "hands down, the greatest actor that's ever lived";[31] Brad Pitt,[85] Daniel Radcliffe[86] and Ryan Gosling have also cited Oldman as their favourite actor.[87] Other actors such as Christian Bale,[88][89] Benedict Cumberbatch,[90][91] Shia LaBeouf,[92] Joseph Gordon-Levitt,[93] Johnny Depp,[88][90][91] Chris Pine,[94] Jason Isaacs[95] and Michael Fassbender[31][90] have cited Oldman as an influence. Joel Kinnaman, with whom Oldman worked on RoboCop, believes he should have won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his "subtle," "difficult," and "masterful" performance in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Peers including Anthony Hopkins,[91][96] Ralph Fiennes,[97] John Hurt,[45][91] Keanu Reeves,[98] Ray Winstone[4] and Colin Firth[91] have expressed their admiration of Oldman's acting talents, with Firth hailing him as "very strong candidate for the world's best living actor."[99] Oldman's collaborating directors Luc Besson[21] and Christopher Nolan[100] have lauded his work; the former in 1997 called him "one of the top five actors in the world."[21] David Cronenberg said that Oldman "really is a fabulous actor" who gave "the best version" of James Gordon (in Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy).[101]

Oldman signing autographs at the Harry Potter premiere, 2007

Oldman has long established a cult following among film fans.[30][71] He is known for playing the primary antagonist in a number of popular motion pictures,[17][72] which has seen him referenced in popular culture. At the peak of his popularity in the 1990s, Oldman was dubbed by Empire magazine as Hollywood's "psycho deluxe",[73] and was spoofed on popular television shows such as Fox comedy series In Living Color[74] and MTV's Celebrity Deathmatch,[41] as well as drafted in to appear on the first ever cover of Loaded magazine.[75] In 1993, he appeared prominently in the music video for Annie Lennox's international hit "Love Song for a Vampire", written for the soundtrack to Bram Stoker's Dracula, and had a cameo role as the Devil in the video for Guns N' Roses single "Since I Don't Have You"[40]—Oldman also played the Devil in the 2002 BMW short Beat The Devil, alongside Clive Owen, James Brown and Marilyn Manson.[76] He starred as a sleazy priest in the controversial religious-themed video for David Bowie's 2013 single "The Next Day".[77][78] In contrast to his often dark on-screen roles, Oldman's affable real-life demeanour has been noted,[30] and he was named as one of Empire magazine's "100 Sexiest Stars in Film History" in 2007.[79] In 2011, Oldman was voted an "Icon of Film" by Empire readers.[80]


Oldman's proficiency with accents has been praised,[29] and his on-screen diversity has brought critical acclaim.[17] His in-depth research of roles has been noted,[70] as well as his devotion to them: he was hospitalised after losing significant weight for Sid and Nancy.[24]

Oldman was almost immediately typecast as a criminal in his film career.[66] The necessity to express villainous characters in an overtly physical manner led to the cultivation of his 'big' acting style,[67] which hearkened back to his classical theatre training and would become his trademark; this encompassed "playing everything" via layered performances that vividly express each character's emotions and internal conflicts.[37] The Guardian and Salon published articles about positive overacting in which they fondly recalled Oldman's work.[68][69] Salon spoke of his "super-sized performances" in latter 20th century cinema, saying that "there was an approximately 15-year stretch during which any time you paid to see Oldman in a movie, you could expect a lot of trembling, freaking out, reflexive weeping and snarling and other signifiers of emotional decay."[69] Oldman has conceded that he often overacts on screen, and said: "[I]t's my influence on those roles that probably they feel bigger than life and a little over-the-top. I mean, I do go for it a bit as an actor, I must admit."[20]

Acting style

In 2015, Oldman and his manager Douglas Urbanski signed a deal with the Simon & Schuster/Atria Publishing label Emily Bestler Books for 'Blood Riders', a vampire book series.[65]


Oldman participated in the creation of The Legend of Spyro games, produced by Sierra Entertainment. He provided the voice of the Fire Guardian, Ignitus. He voices Sergeant Viktor Reznov and scientist Daniel Clarke in the Call of Duty games. He also provides the narration of Sergeant Jack Barnes in the Spearhead expansion for Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. In 2015 he voiced Lord Vortech, the evil mastermind who seeks to control the LEGO Multiverse, in the Lego Dimensions video game.[63] Oldman will also be portraying Admiral Ernst Bishop in the upcoming single-player campaign of the Chris Roberts-designed crowdfunded video game, Star Citizen.[64]

Voice acting

Oldman has had a keen interest in music from an early age. He is a proficient pianist and stated in a 1995 interview with Charlie Rose that he would rather be a musician than an actor.[13] Oldman sang several tracks on the Sid and Nancy soundtrack, on which he performed alongside original Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock, and sang and played live piano in the 1988 movie Track 29. He traced over Beethoven compositions in 1994's Immortal Beloved. He also tutored Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe on bass guitar.[61] Oldman appeared on Reeves Gabrels' album The Sacred Squall of Now, performing a vocal duet with David Bowie on the track "You've Been Around".[62] He produced a live performance by former White Stripes member Jack White in conjunction with Vevo and YouTube.


Oldman and producing partner Douglas Urbanski formed the SE8 GROUP to produce Nil by Mouth. The company also produced The Contender, which also starred Oldman. He has finished his latest screenplay, Chang & Eng, co-written with Darin Strauss, based on the author's book of the same name; SE8 Group will produce. In September 2006, Nokia Nseries Studio[60] released the Oldman-directed short film Donut, with music by Tor Hyams. The film was shot with an N93 to promote the phone. Juliet Landau made a 25-minute documentary about the making of the video. In 2011, he directed a music video for Alex Eden's first single, "Kiss Me Like the Woman You Loved".

In 1997, Oldman directed, produced, and wrote the award-winning Nil by Mouth, a film partially based on his own childhood. Nil by Mouth went on to win the BAFTA Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film (shared with Douglas Urbanski) and also the BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay, the Channel 4 Director's Award, and an Empire Award. In 1999, it was adjudged by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts as one of the hundred best British films of the 20th century.[58] Nil By Mouth was listed by Time Out as number twenty-one of the top 100 best British films ever.[59]


Other ventures

In 2015, Oldman will play the head of the CIA in Criminal directed by Ariel Vromen alongside Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones, Ryan Reynolds, Alice Eve, and Gal Gadot. He is also set to star as the lead as a troubled Afghanistan war veteran trying to come to terms with his past while searching for his family in post-apocalyptic America for thriller Man Down directed by Dito Montiel alongside Shia LaBeouf and Kate Mara. He is slated to direct a biopic about Eadweard Muybridge entitled Flying Horse.[56] He is going to star in a science fiction love story with Asa Butterfield named The Space Between Us.[57]

Future projects

In 2012, Oldman played Floyd Banner, a big-hitting mobster, in John Hillcoat's Lawless, alongside Tom Hardy, Shia LeBouf, Guy Pearce and Jessica Chastain. In 2013, Oldman portrayed Nicholas Wyatt, a ruthless CEO, in Robert Luketic's Paranoia, along with Harrison Ford and Liam Hemsworth. In 2014, Oldman starred alongside Joel Kinnaman, Abbie Cornish, Michael Keaton, and Samuel L. Jackson in the remake of RoboCop, as Norton, the scientist who creates RoboCop. Also that year, Oldman starred in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes as one of the leads alongside Jason Clarke and Keri Russell. In 2015, Oldman played the head of police that investigates Tom Hardy's character in Child 44 alongside Noomi Rapace and Joel Kinnaman.

Oldman received strong reviews and earned his first Alec Guinness' performance in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and paid a visit to Smiley's creator John le Carré: "The way he touched his shirt, spoke and so on, I took all that and used it. I hope he won't mind, but Smiley is in his DNA."

Oldman at the London premiere of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy in October 2011

In 2004, Oldman returned to prominence when he landed a significant role in the Harry Potter film series, playing Harry Potter's godfather Sirius Black. Oldman and star Daniel Radcliffe reportedly became very close during the filming of the series.[46] The following year, Oldman starred as James Gordon in Christopher Nolan's commercially and critically successful Batman Begins, a role that he reprised in the even more successful sequel The Dark Knight (2008) and once more in the conclusion, The Dark Knight Rises (2012). Prominent film critic Mark Kermode, in reviewing The Dark Knight, downplayed claims that Heath Ledger's Joker was the highlight of the film, saying, "the best performance in the film, by a mile, is Gary Oldman's ... it would be lovely to see him get a[n Academy Award] nomination because actually, he's the guy who gets kind of overlooked in all of this."[47] Oldman co-starred with Jim Carrey in the 2009 version of A Christmas Carol in which Oldman played three roles.[48][49][50] He had a starring role in David Goyer's supernatural thriller The Unborn, released in 2009.[51][52] In 2010, Oldman co-starred with Denzel Washington in The Book of Eli.[53] He also played a lead role in Catherine Hardwicke's Red Riding Hood.[54] Oldman voiced the role of villain Lord Shen and was nominated for an Annie Award for his performance in Kung Fu Panda 2.

Resurgence and franchise stardom (2004–present)

Following his Friends appearance, Oldman did not appear in any significant roles until 2004, starring only in independent films. He starred in the generally well received Interstate 60 (2002), as well as Tiptoes (2003) and Sin (2003), both of which were received poorly by critics. Although the film failed to impress critics, Oldman did garner praise for his portrayal of a man with dwarfism in Tiptoes: it was included in Mark Kermode's "Great Acting in Bad Films",[43] and Variety described his work as "astonishingly fine".[44] He starred as the Devil in the BMW short film, The Hire: Beat the Devil (2002), and contributed voice acting to several video games. The Guardian described this time period as the "low point" of Oldman's career, consisting of "barrel-scraping roles".[45] Oldman himself has stated that raising his young children took precedence over his career during this time, and that he generally accepted films that did not require him to be separated from his family for long periods.[30]

Oldman at the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con International

Career slump (2001–2003)

Oldman appeared opposite Jeff Bridges as zealous Republican congressman Sheldon Runyon in The Contender (2000), in which he was also credited as a producer. Oldman received a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for his performance. In 2001, he starred opposite Anthony Hopkins in Hannibal, as Mason Verger, the only surviving victim of Hannibal Lecter. He reportedly spent six hours per day in the make-up room to achieve the character's hideously disfigured appearance.[42] It marked the second time that Oldman had appeared opposite Hopkins, a personal friend who was part of the supporting cast of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Oldman is uncredited in the film, reportedly over a dispute regarding top billing, which was going to co-star Anthony Hopkins and Julianne Moore. He received an Emmy Award nomination for two guest appearances in Friends in May 2001, appearing in the two-part episode "The One With Chandler and Monica's Wedding" as Richard Crosby, a pedantic actor who insists that "real" actors spit on one another when they enunciate, leading to tension, then later friendship, between Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc) and himself. Oldman had previously worked with LeBlanc on Lost in Space.

In 1994's Léon: The Professional, he played corrupt DEA officer Norman Stansfield, which has since been named by multiple publications as one of the best villains of modern cinema.[39] Oldman also displayed a skill for world accents; along with the Transylvanian Count Dracula, he played German-born Viennese composer Ludwig van Beethoven in Immortal Beloved, and Russian terrorist Egor Korshunov in the 1997 blockbuster Air Force One. He portrayed another historical figure, Pontius Pilate, in Jesus (1999). He also appeared as the Devil in the 1993 music video to Guns N' Roses single "Since I Don't Have You",[40] and served as a member of the Jury at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival. Oldman's visibility as one of the foremost portrayers of villains in Hollywood became apparent when MTV's Celebrity Deathmatch aired a match between Oldman and Christopher Walken to determine the greatest cinematic villain.[41]

In 1991, Oldman starred in his first US blockbuster, playing The Fifth Element (1997), and Dr. Zachary Smith/Spider Smith in the commercially successful but critically panned Lost in Space (1998). Oldman was considered for two roles in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction (1994), but neither were realised: Tarantino contemplated Oldman as gangster Jules Winnfield (played by Samuel L. Jackson),[36] while TriStar executives recommended him for drug dealer Lance (portrayed by Eric Stoltz).[37][38]

Oldman in 2000

Villain roles and mainstream success (1991–2001)

Oldman's performances in Sid and Nancy and Prick Up Your Ears were widely acclaimed, and paved the way for work in Hollywood. Prominent United States film critic Roger Ebert, on the basis of Oldman's work in those films, described him as "the best young British actor around".[22] His portrayal of Vicious was applauded by many, perhaps most notably ex-Sex Pistols vocalist John Lydon, who despite questioning the authenticity of the film, described Oldman as a "bloody good actor".[23] Oldman lost considerable weight for the role and was hospitalised.[24] His performance would go on to be ranked No. 62 in Premiere magazine's "100 Greatest Performances of All Time"[25] and No. 8 in Uncut magazine's "10 Best actors in rockin' roles", the latter describing his portrayal as a "hugely sympathetic reading of the punk figurehead as a lost and bewildered manchild."[26] In late 1988, he starred opposite long-time hero[13] Alan Bates in We Think the World of You, and alongside Dennis Hopper and Frances McDormand in the 1989 film Chattahoochee. In 1989, Oldman also starred as football hooligan Clive Bissel in British drama The Firm, a performance which Total Film numbered as his best and called "stunning" and "fearless" in 2011.[27] In 1990 he costarred with Tim Roth in Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, Tom Stoppard's film adaptation of his own play of the same name. Total Film also praised the movie, calling Oldman's character "a blitz of brilliant comedy timing and pitch perfect line delivery."[27] Oldman starred opposite Sean Penn and Ed Harris in State of Grace (1990), his first prominent US film; Roger Ebert described Oldman's turn as the highlight.[28] Janet Maslin, another noted US film critic, referred to his work as "phenomenal".[29] Oldman moved to the United States in the early 1990s, where he has resided since.[30] Oldman and other young British actors of the 1980s who were becoming established Hollywood film actors, such as Tim Roth, Bruce Payne, Colin Firth, Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul McGann, were dubbed the "Brit Pack", of which Oldman was de facto leader.[31][32]

Saved proved to be a major breakthrough for Oldman. Max Stafford-Clark, artistic director of the Royal Court Theatre, had seen Oldman's performance and cast him as Scopey, the lead role of Bond's The Pope's Wedding, in 1984.[15] For his acclaimed performance, he won two of British theatre's top honours: the Time Out Fringe Award for Best Newcomer, and the Drama Theatre Award for Best Actor—the latter of which was shared with future film co-star Anthony Hopkins for his performance in Pravda.[3][17][18] His turn in The Pope's Wedding led to a run of work with the Royal Court, and from 1984 to 1986 he appeared in Rat in the Skull (Ron Hutchinson), The Desert Air (Nicholas Wright), Cain and Abel, The Danton Affair (Pam Gems), Women Beware Women (Thomas Middleton), Real Dreams (Trevor Griffiths) and all three of Bond's The War Plays: Red Black and Ignorant, The Tin Can People and Great Peace.[15] Oldman was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company from 1985 to 1986.[19] The 1984 production of The Pope's Wedding had been seen by director Alex Cox, who offered Oldman the part of ill-fated rocker Sid Vicious in the 1986 film Sid and Nancy. He twice turned down the role before accepting it, because, in his own words: "I wasn't really that interested in Sid Vicious and the punk movement. I'd never followed it. It wasn't something that interested me. The script I felt was banal and 'who cares' and 'why bother' and all of that. And I was a little bit sort-of with my nose in the air and sort-of thinking 'well the theatre – so much more superior' and all of that." He reconsidered based on the salary and the urging of his agent.[20] In 1987, Oldman gained his third starring film role as Joe Orton in Prick Up Your Ears, for which he received a BAFTA nomination for Best Actor. That same year, Oldman appeared in the plays The Country Wife (William Wycherley) and Serious Money (Caryl Churchill).[18] Director Luc Besson told how, on the set of The Fifth Element (1997), Oldman could recite any scene from Hamlet (William Shakespeare), in which he had starred a decade earlier.[21]

From 1980 to 1981, he appeared in The Massacre at Paris (Christopher Marlowe), Desperado Corner (Shaun Lawton), and Robert David MacDonald's plays Chinchilla and A Waste of Time. He performed in a 6-month West End run of MacDonald's Summit Conference, opposite Glenda Jackson, in 1982.[15] Also that year, Oldman made his film debut in Colin Gregg's Remembrance, and would have starred in Don Boyd's Gossip if that film had not collapsed. The following year, he landed a starring role as a skinhead in Mike Leigh's film Meantime, and moved on to Chesterfield to assume the lead role in Entertaining Mr Sloane (Joe Orton). Afterwards, he went to Westcliffe to star in Saved (Edward Bond).[15]

Before enrolling at Rose Bruford, Oldman had unsuccessfully applied to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), which welcomed him to try again the following year, but advised him to find something else to do for a living.[13][15] When asked by Charlie Rose if he had reminded RADA of this, Oldman joked that "the work speaks for itself".[13] He made his professional stage debut in 1979 as Puss, alongside Michael Simkins and Peter Howitt, in Dick Whittington and His Cat, at York's Theatre Royal. The play then ran in Colchester, then with Glasgow's Citizens Theatre;[15] Oldman's work ethic and trademark intensity would make him a favourite with audiences in Glasgow during the 1980s.[3]

Oldman studied with the Young People's Theatre in Greenwich during the mid-1970s,[3][14] while working jobs on assembly lines, as a porter in an operating theatre, selling shoes and beheading pigs in an abattoir.[14] He later won a scholarship to attend the Rose Bruford College in Sidcup, Southeast London, from which he graduated with a BA in Acting in 1979.[3][15] Oldman describes himself as 'shy' although a diligent worker during his time at Rose Bruford, where he performed roles such as Puck in the performance of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. After leaving school, Oldman was the first in his class to receive professional work.[16]

Theatre and early films (1979–1990)

Acting career

[4] In 2011, Oldman would learn from his mother that his father represented Millwall after World War II, with Oldman stating: "Just after the war, she ran a boarding house, for football players, Millwall players. And I knew that my dad was involved somehow with the reserve team. But two weeks ago my mum said, 'Oh yeah, your dad played for Millwall. When he was young he had a couple of first team games."[4]

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