Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Conversation With Gary Oldman

Gary Oldman via
I was talking with my father the other day and as a non-user of Facebook, he asked me what I primarily used Facebook for as he felt that following what your friends were eating and what they were doing to be so trivial that he deemed it unworthy for his time.  I told my dad that while I agreed that seeing a random plate of someone's food and the all too often I'm-posting-about-my-bad-day-to-get-sympathy post can get quite annoying, I primarily used Facebook as my source of news.

Thanks to Facebook and my in-the-know friend Tim, I was able to attend a curated conversation with my favorite actor, Gary Oldman.  The evening, which was presented by Film Independent, was hosted by KCRW's Elvis Mitchell; some of you may know him from his show "The Treatment" which features interviews with different artists from the entertainment industry.

Gary Oldman via
After a short clip featuring Gary Oldman in a wide range of roles throughout his career, the man himself walked on stage and was greeted with a standing ovation.  Mr. Oldman spoke for the better part of an hour and shared insight on how he prepares for roles and where his performances come from.  While the anti-photo police didn't allow any photos or recording (they literally patrolled the aisles and walked down the rows of seats just to point at someone who was taking a photo), our friends over at Geek Tyrant were able to jot down a few quotes from Mr. Oldman that I feel were highlights of the conversation.

On losing himself in roles:
It's all about giving the illusion of becoming someone else. If I'm playing a senator, or I'm playing [George] Smiley [in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy], he's not going to sound like Gary and he's not going to move like Gary. So I've spent my entire career trying to get away from Gary, and the sort of demons in my head, you know. That all comes from insecurity and doubt and all sorts of stuff. The happiest I've ever been was in Hannibal, because I completely disappeared and I achieved my goal. I thought, “I can't even recognize my ears."
On originally passing on Sid and Nancy:
I thought [Sid and Nancy] was banal. I thought it was...”who cares about Sid and Nancy?” I'm not saying now, but at the time. I was a soul man. I was a James Brown guy. I never listened to punk and was not even remotely interested in it. I was working in the theater doing Shakespeare and stuff at the time, and I read this script. And in my arrogance, I thought, “who cares about this?"
On how he joined True Romance:
I met Tony Scott, and he said to me, “I can't tell you the plot, I'm not going to tell you the story.” He said, “I'm no good at that. [Drexl Spivey] is a white guy who thinks he's an African-American and he's a pimp.” I said, “I'll do it.” Unread!
On the challenges of acting in "big" scenes:
Roles that you play, you would come to work and it's like standing at the foot of the mountain and looking at the summit. And you think, “gee, I've got to get there today.” Will I have the reserve, will I have the resource? I'm going to go to a place, and will the well be dry or will it work?
On the filmmaking industry:
You get typecast, and people see you do one thing. First of all, you're at the mercy of what people are writing and what they're making. You're at the mercy of the industry and above and beyond that, you're then at the mercy of the imaginations of the people who are casting. They see you do one thing, and then they keep wanting you to do the thing. You do a comedy, and they see the comedy and go, “oh my God, he's funny! We've gotta get a comedy for Gary Oldman.” I always say to people, “watch Dracula. You know I can do comedy!”
Overall, I was very satisfied with the evening and happy to find out that Gary Oldman is an extremely charismatic and humorous person.  I highly recommend seeking out evenings like these with your favorite artists as they are very inspiring and insightful.

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