Gary Oldman

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Leonard Gary Oldman (born March 21, 1958) is an English actor, born in London. He won a scholarship to the Rose Bruford Drama College, where he received a BA in Drama in 1979. He later studied with the Greenwich Young People's Theatre and went on to appear in a number of stage plays including The Pope's Wedding, for which he received Time Out's Fringe Award for Best Newcomer of 1985 - 1986 and the British Theatre Association's Drama Magazine Award as Best Actor of 1985. Oldman is claimed to be one of the most excellent modern actors, but surprisingly also one of the most underrated.


  • I used to be under the impression that in some kind of wanky, bullshit way, acting was like therapy: you get in and grapple with and exorcise all those demons inside of you. I don't believe that anymore. It's like a snow shaker. You shake the thing up, but it can't escape the glass. It can't get out. And it will settle until the next time you shake it up.


  • 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.
  • It was always a good script and of course the music - that’s the star of the film. As beautiful as it looks, and the cinematography is gorgeous, and the costumes are gorgeous and the acting is beautiful too, BUT… Really, the star is the music. - About the making of "Immortal Beloved"
  • We're given a code to live our lives by; we don't always follow it but it's still there.
  • It's a double-edged sword because in one sense you have a lot of material to work with, but in a strange kind of way that puts up a framework that you have to keep within. You can't play Beethoven with pink hair, but to an extent, because no one has ever met him, who's going to tell me that's not Beethoven? - on portraying famous people
  • With Beethoven I said I wanted a role where I didn't have to do anything stupid with my hair. My agent said, 'Read it again.'
  • I've done so much R-rated work, it's nice to have a job you can show your kids." - on making Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
  • I had this idea of myself as a shy, kind, sweet chap. I was working with Winona Ryder and she turned to me and said, 'Fuck, man, you're really intense.' I was so shocked, I went, 'What do you mean? I'm not intense, I'm sweet.' My passion and energy get mistaken for anger.
  • I guess what I'm trying to say is it's not Dracula crying, it's Gary Oldman, but using the technique of the character. The emotion is mine, because I don't know what it's like to be undead and live 300 years.
  • Any actor who tells you that they have become the people they play - unless they're clearly diagnosed as a schizophrenic - is bullshitting you.
  • 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.
  • To be able to do this job in the first place you've got to have a bit of an ego.
  • But you see, I have played more good guys than I have played villains.
  • 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.
  • 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 applaud anything that can take a kid away from a PlayStation or a Gameboy - that is a miracle in itself.
  • I got obsessed with classical music, I got obsessed with Chopin, with playing the piano.
  • 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 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. - About the making of "Nil by Mouth"
  • I suddenly got obsessive about boxing and Muhammad Ali around the time he was fighting Joe Frazier. I went off and did boxing. I looked incredibly good in the gym.
  • I used to like Batman when I was a kid. I was about five years old and my mum had a 1960s belt - remember those wide belts - and I stuck packets of cigarettes to it and painted it yellow and that was my utility belt. And I had a sheet from crepe paper and a mask and that was it.
  • I wanted to tell this specific story more than I wanted to throw a camera around. - About the making of "Nil by Mouth"
  • 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.
  • I wasn't ever a huge fan of comics. Just not one of those kids, you know?
  • If one could have a wish, or an alternative life, I would've liked to have been John Lennon.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • My big love was the Beatles. I was more into music.
  • 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.
  • 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. - About "Batman Begins"
  • Shakespeare doesn't really write subtext, you play the subtext.
  • 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.
  • Speaking very generally, I find that women are spiritually, emotionally, and often physically stronger than men.
  • The film follows very much in the tradition of social realism, because I wanted to see a subject like this tackled with honesty. - About "Nil by Mouth"
  • These were people who came from a real drinking culture, where your passport to manhood was that, at fourteen or fifteen, you go to the pub, drink beer, play darts, tell sexist, racist jokes. You've got to be homophobic - all that. You've got to be that guy at the bar.
  • To be honest, I'm a little tired of playing bad guys. I long to do a comedy. But it was fun knocking Indiana Jones around. - About the making of "Air Force One"
  • Wanting to be a good actor is not good enough. You must want to be a great actor. You just have to have that.
  • 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.
  • When I directed, it was in a bubble, a creative bubble and I was very spoilt there. I'd like to do it again but it would have to be under my method.
  • 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 want to be a boxer. I want to be a classical pianist. I want to be a soccer player. Now I can be them all.
  • Dracula. That was another one where I thought, “Aw, c‘mon…”. It was like saying to me “play Superman”, you know. No disrespect to Christopher Reeve and all that series, but it was like “Dracula! Why do they wanna make another film about Dracula?”. Then I discovered that it was Francis Ford Coppola and I thought: “Well, he must have a new vision and take of this.” And then I read the script and there was a line that went: “I have crossed oceans of time to find you.”. I’ve never said that to anyone. Just the chance to actually speak that... I heard the voice and everything. I pretty much got to rehearsal with the sound of the character, from reading the script.
  • I was getting a little tired of it. It was like if someone was famous and did something and died, call Gary. - On portraying famous people.

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