Cool 5 - GARY OLDMAN ROLES

February 7, 2018

Gary Oldman is obviously one of the finest actors of our time, but he is also one of the coolest. This list is a nod to what Cool Magazine considers to be Gary Oldman's 'coolest' roles. The ones that make us say, man, this guy is so badass!


So here it goes, the COOL 5 - Gary Oldman Roles - this time with a twist! In Gary's own words....

 

#1. DREXL SPIVEY - TRUE ROMANCE 

 

"I met Tony Scott at the Four Seasons Hotel in California. He said, 'look I can't tell you the story, I'm no good at that. He's a white guy who thinks he's black, and he's a pimp,' and I said, 'I'll do it'. Unread. We shook hands and that was it. And I thought, that's sounds good, doesn't it?"

 

"I was working on a movie called "Romeo Is Bleeding", and we were in New York, I think we were in Brooklyn, and I was in my trailer, we were on a break, and a bunch of guys walked past the door of the trailer on the street. Just these guys on the street, and I heard this voice, and I said, wow, that's the sound. I got this young kid, and I said, can I borrow you? And he came into the trailer, and I said, see this script, this scene here, you tell me, read that, and see what doesn't work. How does this dialogue hold up? This is Tarantino, and the kid went through the list and went yeah, that wouldn't fly man, he wouldn't say that. That's breast-asis, he wouldn't say that. He went through this thing, and I recorded him just talking to me for ten minutes. I had this guy in these headphones, and he changed the words in the script for me."

 

“I had to kind of put (Drexl) together, I had to work on him while I was doing something else, because there just wasn’t the time to meet with Tony. I wrote him a letter, sent him a note, saying, ‘I would like dreadlocks. What do you think?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, great.’ So I knew Stuart (Artingstall), who had been the wigmaker on Dracula, so he made me that wig in about 48 hours. I went to a dentist who made the gold teeth, and I got the eye from the prop department. It was one of the eyes I wore for Dracula! And I put ‘em all together."

 

"I drove from the desert on a Sunday night, went to the set Monday morning, and I walked onto the set all put together and Tony Scott, it was the first time he'd seen me, he said, 'yeah that's the wig, that's the eye alright, lovely..ok, right. You sit there and you sit there, run the scene'. And we ran the scene, and he would come up with these notes and he would go through these notes and he'd say, 'now give me something else on that line, Gary. Give me something else.' And then, we'd shoot. He shoots with five cameras at a time, so he covers the hands, he covers the medium, and he shoots like that, and I'd just come from a movie where the director was from Hungary, a lovely man, Peter Medak and he would be like this...He would come up to me and say 'I like-a your face, Gary. I want to do a close-up, darling, because I love your face'. And then you go from that, and then you go to Tony Scott. You do take after take, and when there's one he likes he goes, 'BINGO ONE PRINT'!"

 

"I don't have to be in character all day, I don't have to eat my lunch as Drexl. I keep coming back to that guy. He's one of my favorites." - Gary Oldman
 

 

#2.JACKIE FLANNERY -STATE OF GRACE

 

"I'm a working class kid from London and I'm in New York making a movie with Sean Penn and Ed Harris. Young John Reilly was in that. Robyn Wright before she was Robyn Wright Penn. Though she's not that anymore, is she? So, you're there in NY playing a westie, with a terrific script, a great young director, a talented young director, Phil Janou, with Ed and Sean. I mean come on, I'm there. They were great days."


"There's an example, I couldn't get Jackie Flannery. I couldn't find him. And I had a sort of accent that I was doing, which was sort of this Irish westie accent, so it was all "goin' up like that", but that's all it was. It wasn't sitting. They have to sit inside you. And it just felt like I was just doing this voice and it was all over the place. I was waiting for the cloak to fall. And at the eleventh hour, I went to a costume fitting. I had long hair and I put on a leather jacket, and I looked in the mirror, and I flicked my hair, but I didn't flick it down, I sort of flicked it up. And it was that. And I went, That feels good. And I got him. And he came in."

 

"For all Jackie's unpredictable rage, I found him rather touching. When I began to play him, I went to the bravura, volatile, hot-headed Irish side of him - and the other stuff, his vulnerability, just sort of asserted itself. I think Jackie needed a lot of love when he was very much younger. And he never, ever got it.''

 

''I listened to tapes for about six weeks to get the dialect right, and I worked with Tim Monich, a dialect coach. I also was driven around the neighborhood a lot by Irish teamsters, and I was around them enough so that - unconsciously - the language seemed to kick in.

 

"I think Jackie Flannery has a humanity. I know that he's a gangster and shoots people. But he has a soul. -- He was a wonderfully touching character. Of course, I may be just a bit daft, considering he's a stone killer." - Gary Oldman

 

#3. STANSFIELD -LEON THE PROFESSIONAL

 

"I was dating a girl at the time who had been a girlfriend of Luc (Besson)'s. He came to town and we met and he said 'I have something for you, I think.' He gave me the script and that was it."

 

"The Beethoven and the headphones were in the script, and the idea of him taking something, this pill that he takes, that was in the script, but how we did it, I'm not good at swallowing pills, so it tends to become a bit of an opera. Like I'll take a pill and the water, and have to kind of like force it down, and so I used that thing of looking up and doing the pill, you know. I think I did it at rehearsal, it was on a long lens, very specific focus, that you had to hit, on a telephoto lens from above. And they had a silver c-stand and that was up the back of my suit. It was against the back of my head here, so that when I tipped my head back, I knew that I couldn't go too far, and the rod touched the back of my neck and I knew that I was in perfect focus."

 

"Luc (Besson) encourages you. He's so encourageable . He had a great sense of humor. I mean the famous line is 'Everyone', yeah? You know, 'bring me everyone', and I just did that as a joke to make Luc laugh. I just said to the sound guy, be careful, I'm going to do this. He doesn't know, but I'm going to do this one really loud, and turn and scream it like that. And I did that really just to give him a giggle like that, and he did laugh and he said, 'It's in the movie. I want it in the movie'." - Gary Oldman

 

 

#4. VLAD DRACULA - BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA

"(Dracula was) sent to me and I read the script. I loved the line 'I've crossed oceans of time to find you' and I thought, I want to say that. It was worth doing the movie. I did the movie, because I wanted to say that line. I thought wouldn't that be great if you could say that to someone and mean it, you know? And so, I auditioned.

I had a place up in Benedict Canyon...You went through rehearsal, we called it Camp Coppola, and you went for 4 weeks to Napa, and we rehearsed and improvised and read the book out loud and we got a big trunk of clothes and we dressed up and did the etiquette and the sort of manners of the time, and the way the lady would curtsy and the way the man would bow, and we had period dancing, I mean, all of this great stuff. We drank his wine and he cooked for us and it was quite an amazing experience, but people were going off and they were doing ballooning, or riding horses, and all of that, and I said to Francis, well what do I do? I'm 500 years old and I'm dead. So, he put me in a coffin. He got a coffin for me. They went and picked one out from the back lot. It had a nice silk lining. I kind of hung around in that for a bit, trying to get the vibe. At the end of the day, I just used my imagination."

 

"The way I move, what the makeup can do, when you move your face, expression comes through the face, did I really need to do a lot inside that rubber mask or could I be subtle with it?  So I just kind of played with it.

I'd always seen (Dracula) as some kind of bogeyman. He's the monster that comes in the night, and he's got these teeth and he drains you of your blood. Nosferatu was an inspiration just because it's wonderful. It's still scary. It's spooky. It's the most exhausting thing I ever had to do. And it's hard to analyze, or take apart how I really approached it, because in a strange kind of way, with most scripts you get, you have like a metaphysical reaction to it, like you do when you meet someone, or you look at a painting, or you hear a piece of music or whatever. You know, it will either affect you or it won't. I mean, I read the script, and I thought, 'ooo, I could do this'. I was in a strange place for a while there. I had a casket up at my house. It was a gift from Francis. I can't reveal whether I ever used it, but, um..."

 

"In England, I would never have been cast as Dracula. I would have been cast as Renfield. They see me as a member of the working class, not as someone who has a dignity and an aristocratic air."

 

"I liked him best when he was the old man. My conception of the character was that he's strongest when he's in Transylvania. It's only when he falls in love that he's vulnerable." - Gary Oldman

 

#5. WINSTON CHURCHILL - DARKEST HOUR

"A Churchill project came my way in 2014, and my reaction was, “Don’t be utterly ridiculous.” It was never in my consciousness, even. You could see yourself playing Lear, maybe, down the road. Lear can be different things to different people. But when you start with the robust silhouette of a man like Churchill, with the big jowls and the double chin, it’s hard to see that."

 

"When the first one came by, I let it go. This piece was more interesting to me because it offered a chance to reconnect with Eric Fellner at Working Title, Joe (Wright) was in the mix, and the script, I thought, took an interesting approach. To look at that 28-day period—that very specific moment in time. I wasn’t being asked to play a life; Churchill through many, many years. It honed it and laid the themes into clothes I could try on. I could see how it would work."

 

"But the physical aspect was always going to be a challenge. I’m coming up to a milestone; I’m nearly 60. I would have had to put on about 80 pounds, which I couldn’t do. Makeup was the only answer.

In my mind, Kazuhiro Tsuji was the only makeup artist who could pull it off. Even though Kazu had retired, I managed to seduce him out of retirement and get him on board. Then we did a series of tests to find out if it was even doable. You needed not only a makeup artist, but an artist as well as a makeup artist, and because of those huge, realistic sculptures Kazu does, he looks at bone structure and anatomy. But even he scratched his head at the start and said, “I’m not sure I can do this.” He wasn’t convinced. We did a head cast, and an early sculpt on that, and it was really promising.

Once I knew it could work, my other real concern was stamina. You have the locomotion of the piece, and Churchill was in virtually every scene of the movie. The makeup would take four hours, and then I’d work a 12-hour day, followed by an hour at the end to take it off. So it was 18- or 20-hour waking days. Then, when you come in, you’re the motor. I think I must have a Guinness World Record, actually, because it was 48 consecutive days in the makeup."

 

"We were shooting at Ealing Studios, and they still have the same old dressing rooms, across the corridor from the stage. I would come out of the dressing room having already been through makeup, and there would be day players lining the corridor. You’d have office girls, girls from the typing pool, various guards and soldiers all lined up along the hall, waiting to be called to set, and walking past them was an interesting thing because all the soldiers would suddenly stand upright and come to attention. Ladies would curtsy. People would stare at me because the makeup was so good that you could literally stand an inch from me and you couldn’t tell I was wearing any. It was fascinating to people. It was really like being the Prime Minister for a few months."

 

"When I was playing him, I loved him. I would love going in every day, spending 12 hours in his company. My respect for him, in terms of his achievements, has grown. He’s risen in stock tenfold. People say, “Was he a drunk, or was he an alcoholic?” When you look at all the achievements over his lifetime, I don’t know many politicians who could do that, let alone alcoholics."

 

"My reading of the man, and the discovery of the man, will continue. There’s got to be 1,000 books written about him. I’ve only waded through a few. So my curiosity will follow long after the film."

- Gary Oldman

 

 

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