Gary Oldman is one of my favorite living actors—arguably one of our BEST living actors. He seems to disappear into his roles. I have more than once been reminded that he was in a movie that I liked and had to pause to remember who he was. That’s how good he is…you’re not seeing Gary Oldman…you’re seeing the person he’s playing.
Following are a couple of the movies/projects I’ve forgotten he was in and a couple stories revolving around them.
- The Harry Potter Movies
Role: Some Guy. Probably a Villain.
Okay…to be fair, I haven’t seen any of the Harry Potter movies. Why? Interestingly enough, my response to that question is just restating the question. You: “You haven’t seen the Harry Potter flicks? Why?!?” Me: “Why should I?” Well…the answer to my question might be “because Gary Oldman’s in one or two of them.”
- Batman Begins
Role: Commissioner Jim Gordon
Well…I mean, I know it NOW. It’s always in my brain NOW… But at the time the movie came out, a few friends and I were talking about it and got to discussing the cast. We started out talking about Katie Holmes (who I still maintain did fine, since there’s really not much to the “I’m in love with Bruce Wayne” role). Part of the group’s defense of the actress was that even if she’d done the most amazing job in the world, the deck was stacked against her. Christian Bale…Michael Caine…Liam Neeson… Those are some heavy hitters. We talked and talked about how well each actor did…then after a few minutes I said, “Wow…how good does Gary Oldman have to be that none of us remembered he was Commissioner Gordon?!?” And that was the first time I realized that about him.
- A really funny episode of FRIENDS.
Role: Some British Actor
Oldman played a British actor working in a movie with the Joey character. He owned the screen for every moment of his performance. He was funny both when he was playing the intimidating legit actor, and also when he was playing the staggering drunk. He communicated things about the character’s backstory that definitely weren’t in the script (which I can TOTALLY confirm, never having read it!) and made the episode a lot of fun. And yet, we all think of it as “The One With Monica and Chandler’s Wedding.”
- The Fifth Element
Role: Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg (The main bad guy)
…actually to be fair, I actually completely forgot all of The Fifth Element. That was just a terrible movie with flawwed reasoning. Oldman’s character has been paid to destroy all of existence—which would include HIMSELF and the money he was paid to do so…and it wasn’t a covert thing, his character knew that’s what he was doing. Still…I believed Oldman’s character was nuts enough that none of that was a problem for him.
Role: Fucking DRACULA.
I seriously had no idea until I read it on IMDB tonight. And I don’t think it was because of the makeup—although I now realize how excellent it was.
Role: Lee Harvey Oswald
Until very recently, I honestly thought Oswald was played by a no-name, Russian actor. I had no idea it was Gary Oldman until I heard him mention having worked on JFK in an interview and then it dawned on me. Nuts.
- Sid & Nancy
Role: Sid Vicious
Yep. That’s him. This was kind of the movie that launched him in many people’s eyes—though not his first movie. I saw it and thought he was great…then promptly forgot about it. I mean sure…maybe that’s because the end of the movie is a sloppy mess…but I remember being amazed by his performance, despite it being just an okay movie.
…and that’s just a handful. Fortunately Oldman is still young and active enough that he’s got (hopefully) a ton of films ahead of him. I look forward to forgetting him for years to come.