Today – 21st March – is the 63rd birthday of the extremely versatile and supremely talented British actor Gary Oldman.
Currently nominated for the Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for Mank (2020), Oldman has delighted fans throughout his near 40-year career, bringing to life a diverse set of characters.
Dracula (Bram Stoker’s Dracula, 1992)
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, Oldman takes the title role starring opposite Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins and Keanu Reeves. It has been years since I last watched this but I remember being blown away by the make up and costumes, as well as some strong performances. It’s unsurprising that it took home three Oscars: Best Costume Design, Best Makeup and Best Effects – Sound Effects Editing.
Drexl Spivey (True Romance, 1993)
From immortal vampire to drug-dealing pimp. Oldman plays a supporting role in True Romance, written by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Tony Scott, as the brutal, viscious pimp that Patricia Arquette’s Alabama stops working for after meeting Christian Slater’s Clarence. Oldman delivers a memorable performance not least because of how he looks: dreadlocked, dead-eyed with facial scarring.
Stansfield (Leon, 1994)
Oldman joins Natalie Portman in her film debut as Drug Enforcement Administration agent Stansfield. Unlike a certain federal agent he would play 11 years later, Stansfield is corrupt, mentally unhinged and responsible for the murders that drive the plot of the film. Oldman delivers yet another memorable performance; his neck cracking is etched in my memory.
Zorg (The Fifth Element, 1997)
It has been nearly six years since I saw The Fifth Element but I still remember it clearly thanks to such memorable elements (no pun intended) as a blue alien singing opera and Milla Jovovich’s orange hair. While on the subject of hair, Oldman stars as the fantastically-coiffed and villainous Zorg, who acts as the film’s antagonist opposite Jovovich and Bruce Willis.
Sirius Black (Harry Potter series, 2004-2011)
After several years mostly out of the spotlight – apart from a two episode appearance in ‘Friends’ – I was delighted when Oldman was cast as Sirius Black, one of my favourite characters from JK Rowling’s novels. He perfectly captured the Sirius that I saw in my mind’s eye – the shapeshifting, wrongfully accused wizard who becomes a father figure to Harry.
Commissioner Gordon (The Dark Knight Trilogy, 2005-2012)
Starring opposite Christian Bale’s Batman, Oldman brought the beloved police commissioner of Gotham City to life in all three films directed by Christopher Nolan. A true blue, committed detective, Gordon is Batman’s strongest ally and Oldman continually delivered a strong performance throughout the trilogy.
Winston Churchill (Darkest Hour, 2017)
I am yet to watch Darkest Hour, the multi award-winning war drama directed by Joe Wright and written by Anthony McCarten. It follows Oldman’s Winston Churchill during his early days as prime minister during WWII and the May 1940 War Cabinet Crisis. Oldman took home a clutch of his awards for his performance, including the Academy Award for Best Actor, the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama.