Oldman at WonderCon Anaheim in 2014
|Born||Gary Leonard Oldman
21 March 1958
New Cross, London, England
|Occupation||Actor, filmmaker, musician|
|Family||Laila Morse (sister)|
I can't imagine childhood without 'Planet of the Apes.' I was nine or ten when the first one came out.
It's becoming increasingly harder and harder; there's no such thing as independent film anymore. There aren't any, they don't exist. In the old days you could go and get a certain amount of the budget with foreign sales, now everybody wants a marketable angle.
So Harry Potter came in and it is nice that I have kids of the right age. I took them to London and they walked around the set and met Harry Potter and that is thrilling.
You choose your friends by their character and your socks by their color.
It's funny: I'm a lifelong musician, but because I principally play the piano it's been a solitary thing.
It's always hard when you're playing someone for a lot of people out there who are going to see the movie after reading the books. There's a communion between a reader and the writer, so people will have an idea who Sirius Black is and I might not be everyone's idea of that.
At 23 it was all about acting. Today it's getting my kids to school, making sure that they've done their homework. I'm in my fifties, and I'm turning into a square.
I applaud anything that can take a kid away from a PlayStation or a Gameboy. That is a miracle in itself.
I know what it means to do a job… I worked in a factory. I respect people in the service industry. What irritates me more is when people aren't respectful. There's a lot of nonsense behavior, especially in a place like Hollywood. The money, the power, they create little monsters.
I like a cheese and pickle. Nice cheese and pickle on a real old-fashioned bread. Ploughman's lunch.
You can play older than yourself. You can play younger than yourself up to a point, and then that just becomes impossible because you carry a weight with you that you can't shift, unless you have very boyish looks.
I hadn't worked for a couple of years so I thought it would be nice to earn some money and pay the bills.
Well, I needed the work – that's the honest answer. I haven't worked for a while, a couple of years. So I thought it would be nice to get back to work and earn some money.
I don't go to premieres. I don't go to parties. I don't covet the Oscar. I don't want any of that. I don't go out. I just have dinner at home every night with my kids. Being famous, that's a whole other career. And I haven't got any energy for it.
Wanting to be a good actor is not good enough. You must want to be a great actor. You just have to have that.
My favorite meal would have to be good old-fashioned eggs, over easy, with bacon. Many others, but you can't beat that on a Sunday morning, especially with a cup of tea.
What's fascinating is that when you write a script, it's almost a stream of consciousness. You have an idea that it means something, but you're not always sure what. Then when you get on the set, the actors teach you.
I'm still a member of the Empire! Although I sometimes feel like an American with a British accent – you get contaminated after so long.
I did have a knack for playing weirdos. There's still sort of this perception of me out there as being this crazy guy.
I grew up in Deptford in south London, and at that time I used to wear toppers, loon pants and tonic suits from shops like Take 6 and Topman. I was a bit of a soul boy, but I had a very eclectic taste in music – I was into James Brown and Bowie; and I was the only kid in the neighbourhood who would also be listening to Chopin.
Being an actor is a good way to earn a living. And to meet fabulous people. It's great to live very comfortably. I've been lucky, I've had a lot of fun with great roles, but it is true that if I were extremely rich, I would stop and I would go to play football on a beach in the Caribbean with my children.
At the Oscars, if you didn't vote for '12 Years a Slave,' you were a racist. You have to be very careful about what you say. I do have particular views and opinions that most of this town doesn't share, but it's not like I'm a fascist or a racist. There's nothing like that in my history.
I was brought up by my mother and my two sisters, although they're older than me and fled the nest very young, so I was technically raised as an only child, but I was very much loved.
If one could have a wish, or an alternative life, I would've liked to have been John Lennon.
Speaking very generally, I find that women are spiritually, emotionally, and often physically stronger than men.
When I decided that I might want to do acting for a living – I don't know where it really came from, since there was no school play or any of that – my mom gave me her blessing. I had to get a scholarship – that was the only way I could have gone to drama school.
The building of America has had its fair share of mistakes, but it's a constitution that's the jewel of democracy, the envy of many, and it's the most generous nation in the world.
People who know me, they know I have a sense of humor, I'm a bit of a joker, a bit of a clown really, and I would love someone to exploit that side of me and send me a romantic comedy.
That's what sets apart one actor from another, and that you can't teach. You can't give someone that. When you're working, putting a character together, or in a scene, that's where things will happen that you have to have the intuition to notice them, and to register them.
Change is vital to any actor. If you keep playing lead after lead, you're really gonna dry up. Because all those vehicles wean you away from the truths of human behaviour.
There will always be spies. We have to have them. Without them we wouldn't have got Osama bin Laden – it took us years, but it happened.
We lived in a flat that you could pretty much fit in my current kitchen. No wonder people drink! I can't understand why they don't throw themselves off the balconies.
I'm not the best audience for that because I'm not a great science-fiction fan. I just never got off on space ships and space costumes, things like that.
It's a shame about California, and particularly about L.A., where they've demolished so many landmarks. It's a bit of a disease there, where if anything is over 30 years old, they sort of knock it down and replace it. It's a strange town, it's this sprawling suburb, and then there's a city, the old town.
I have three kids who like Harry Potter so I was sort of aware of it. You can't really move from it: it's on buses, in stores, it's everywhere. One of my kids has read the books; the other two are too small but they like the movies.
I wasn't ever a huge fan of comics. Just not one of those kids, you know?
Culturally, politically, everywhere you look… Read the newspaper. Go online. Our world has gone to hell.
I was quiet, a loner. I was one of those children where, if you put me in a room and gave me some crayons and a pencils, you wouldn't hear from me for nine straight hours. And I was always drawing racing cars and rockets and spaceships and planes, things that were very fast that would take me away.
I had what AA calls 'a convincer' – which made me realize that I couldn't do it any more. I went out drinking for about 70 hours here in London. At the end I knew I was done.
On set I keep myself to myself; I'd rather the director speak up. I'm not gonna direct a younger actor. I think the power of example works best, actually.
Getting sober was one of the three pivotal events in my life, along with becoming an actor and having a child. Of the three, finding my sobriety was the hardest thing.
You take what you know, and you put it through your own prism. If I play characters that break down or cry, it's Gary Oldman crying; it's not the character crying.
Your own barometer is all you have to go by, and often what makes a good director is knowing when not to say something. On occasions you can find yourself on a film set where the person who is wearing the director's hat is only trying to justify his position.
I still don't have a publicist. If I'm in a film, you have an obligation to promote it, I'll do as much as I can.
'Nil By Mouth' was a bit autobiographical, but as I always pointed out at the time, that's not my dad.
I don't think Hollywood knows what to do with me. I would imagine that when it comes to romantic comedies, my name would be pretty low down on the list.
I want my weekends off and I want to put my kids to bed. Those are good reasons to want to be in 'Batman 2'.
People have an idea that one is in control of a career, a lot more than you really are. You can engineer things to an extent. But you are at the mercy of what comes in across the desk.
People imagine that actors are being offered everything and you are not. So things come in and sometimes there are things that I want and can't get a meeting on, or go to a different actors.
A lazy man works twice as hard. My mother told that to me, and now I say it to my kids. If you're writing an essay, keep it in the lines and in the margins so you don't have to do it over.
I took a bit of a back seat, I had kids and I wanted to focus on them. There's that period in the late '90s, the early 2000s, where I didn't do a great deal.
I love the simple poetry of theater, where you can stand in a spotlight on a stage and wrap a coat around you, and say, 'It was 1860 and it was winter…'
I got obsessed with classical music, I got obsessed with Chopin, with playing the piano.
I didn't do drugs. It wasn't my thing. But the drink was terrible. Today when I look back, it's like I was another person. You could call it a coping mechanism, but that would be an excuse. I just drank too much.
Rather like Batman, I embody the themes of the movie which are the values of family, courage and compassion and a sense of right and wrong, good and bad and justice.
Over the years, I have been asked to play these sort of scary frenetic characters that express their emotions physically.
And costume is so important for an actor. It absolutely helps to get into character; it's the closest thing to you, it touches you. Some actors like to go into make-up and then put their clothes on, but I like to dress first; that's my routine.
Interesting things come your way but as you get older, your lifestyle changes. I don't want to travel; I don't want to be in a hotel room away from my family.
I never told my father I loved him before he died, and I have a lot of issues about that. They're all swimming around in my head, in my heart, unresolved, and in a way it felt fitting to dedicate the film to him.
I was never really that interested in the punk movement. I was a blues guy: I liked Motown, James Brown.
There's no handbook for parenting. So you walk a very fine line as a parent because you are civilizing these raw things. They will tip the coffee over and finger-paint on the table. At some point, you have to say, 'We're gonna have to clean that up because you don't paint with coffee on a table.'
I wanted to play Dracula because I wanted to say: 'I've crossed oceans of time to find you.' It was worth playing the role just to say that line.
And of course I've got kids of my own now, and they love me being in the Harry Potter films. I'm now part of a phenomenon. You become incredibly cool to your kids, and you get a young fan base. So you became the cool dad at school. You're suddenly hip.
How many movies do you see when you can say this director really knew what film he wanted to make? I can count them on the fingers of one hand.
I drank for about 25 years getting over the loss of my father and I took the anger out on myself. I did a good job at beating myself up at sometimes. I don't drink anymore but my alcoholic head occasionally says different. 'Nil By Mouth' was a love letter to my father because I needed to resolve some issues in order to be able to forgive him.
I like celluloid, I like film, I like the way that when a movie is projected it sort of breathes a little in the gate. That's the magic of it to me.
Growing up in a particular neighborhood, growing up in a working-class family, not having much money, all of those things fire you and can give you an edge, can give you an anger.
Overall I enjoy a certain anonymity. I live a very normal, very ordinary life.
I had a guitar when I was 6 or 7, a plastic guitar with the Beatles' faces on it. It would be a collector's item now. It would fetch a hefty sum, I imagine.
I'm probably a Libertarian, if I had to put myself in any category. But you don't come out and talk about these things, for obvious reasons.
The thing a drama school can't give you is instinct. It can sharpen instinct but that can't be taught, and you have to have intuition. It's an essential ingredient.