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Gary Oldman

Oldman at the Benjamin Button premiere, December 2008.
Born Gary Leonard Oldman[1]
21 March 1958 (1958-03-21) (age 51)
New Cross, London, England, UK
Occupation Actor, filmmaker, musician
Years active 1979–present
Spouse(s) Lesley Manville (1987–1990)
Uma Thurman (1990–1992)
Donya Fiorentino (1997–2001)
Alexandra Edenborough (2008–present)

Gary Leonard Oldman (born 21 March 1958) is an English actor and filmmaker. Well-known to audiences for his portrayals of dark and morally corrupt characters,[2] he came to prominence in roles such as Sid Vicious in Sid and Nancy, Jackie Flannery in State of Grace and Lee Harvey Oswald in JFK, which led to his most successful, and arguably best known, leading role as Count Dracula in the 1992 blockbuster Dracula. Following the success of Dracula, he was cast as the villain of a number of popular films, including True Romance, Léon, Murder in the First, Air Force One, The Fifth Element, The Contender and The Book of Eli, frequently in starring roles. He is also known for his portrayals of real-life figures: as well as Vicious and Oswald, he portrayed Joe Orton in Prick Up Your Ears, Ludwig Van Beethoven in Immortal Beloved and Pontius Pilate in Jesus. In recent years he is recognisable as Sirius Black in the Harry Potter film series and James Gordon in Christopher Nolan's reboot of the Batman film series.

Oldman has received acclaim for his diverse on-screen performances,[3][4] being described as an "actor's actor".[5][6] He has also been cited as an influence by a number of successful actors.[7] In addition to leading and central supporting roles in big-budget Hollywood films, Oldman has frequently acted in independent films, as well as having appeared on television shows such as Fallen Angels and Friends. He also directed, wrote and co-produced Nil by Mouth, a film partially based on his own childhood,[8] and served as a producer on The Contender, Plunkett & Macleane and Nobody's Baby. Described by The Guardian as "arguably the best actor never Oscar-nominated,"[9] Oldman's acting and filmmaking work have seen him nominated for, among other awards: an Emmy Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, the Palme d'Or, three BAFTA Awards (winning two) and three Saturn Awards (winning one).[10] Allmovie characterised Oldman as "capable of portraying almost any type of character", having "consistently amazed viewers with his ability to completely disappear into his roles."[11]


Early life

Oldman was born in London, the son of Kathleen (née Cheriton; 28 November 1919 — ), an Irish-born housewife, and Leonard Bertram Oldman (21 May 1921 — October 1985), a former sailor who worked as a welder.[6][12] Oldman has said that his father was an abusive alcoholic who left his family when Oldman was seven.[13] Oldman was an accomplished singer and pianist as a child, but gave up music to pursue an acting career.[14] His inspiration was Malcolm McDowell's performance in 1970 movie The Raging Moon.[15][16] In a 1995 interview with Charlie Rose, Oldman said: "Something about Malcolm [McDowell] just arrested me, and I connected, and I said 'I wanna do that'."[17] Oldman retained his love for music, however, and can be seen singing and playing piano in the 1988 film Track 29, and tracing over pre-recorded versions of Beethoven's music in Immortal Beloved. Oldman attended the South East London Boys' School on Creek Road (A200) in Deptford, leaving school at 16.


Sid & Nancy and foray into American cinema

Gary Oldman as Sid Vicious in Sid & Nancy.

After graduating from Rose Bruford College in Sidcup, Kent in 1979, Oldman spent almost eight years in theatre, winning a number of awards.[11] During this time he appeared in several films such as Remembrance (1982) and Meantime (1984). In 1986 he won his first starring role as the Sex Pistols' ill-fated bassist Sid Vicious in the 1986 motion picture Sid & Nancy. The role launched Oldman's career and paved the way for work in Hollywood. Oldman's performance was highly regarded by many, perhaps most notably ex-Sex Pistols vocalist John Lydon, who despite questioning the authenticity of some parts of the film, said of Oldman in his biography: "The chap who played Sid, Gary Oldman, I thought was quite good", and later called him a "bloody good actor".[18] Oldman reportedly lost considerable weight for the role and was briefly hospitalised.[19] His performance was ranked #62 in Premiere magazine's "100 Greatest Performances of All Time"[20] and #8 in Uncut magazine's "10 Best actors in rockin' roles", the latter describing his portrayal as a "hugely sympathetic reading of the punk figurehead as a lost and bewildered manchild."[21] After coming to prominence for his portrayal of Vicious, Oldman increased his profile during the mid-to-late 1980s and early 1990s via starring roles in cult films such as Prick Up Your Ears (in which he played his second real-life portrayal: troubled playwright Joe Orton), Criminal Law (which marked Oldman's first use of an American accent), a corrupt cop in Leon The Professional with Jean Reno and (then) twelve year old Natalie Portman, a short but exceedingly memorable cameo as Detroit pimp and drug lord Drexl in True Romance opposite Christian Slater, The Firm, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead and State of Grace, with Janet Maslin referring to his work as "phenomenal" and Roger Ebert calling him "the best young British actor around."[22][23] In late 1988, he starred opposite long-time hero[17] Alan Bates in We Think the World of You, and alongside Dennis Hopper and Frances McDormand in Chattahoochee (1989). Oldman moved to the United States in the early 1990s, where he has since lived.[24]

Mainstream success in the 1990s

In 1991, Oldman starred in what was at that point the most significant role of his career as Lee Harvey Oswald in Oliver Stone's JFK. The following year, he starred as Count Dracula in Francis Ford Coppola's romance-horror blockbuster Dracula. A commercially successful film adaptation of Bram Stoker's 1897 novel,[25] it was a major box office success worldwide, and spawned various merchandise and video games.[26][27] Oldman's performance is regarded by many as a staple of the horror genre, and was recognised by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films as the best male performance of 1992, who awarded Oldman the prestigious Best Actor award.[28] The film established Oldman as a popular portrayer of villains in American cinema;[2] he later played a violent pimp in True Romance (1993), a corrupt DEA officer in Léon (1994), a sadistic Ed Harris-sounding prison warden in Murder in the First (1995) and a futuristic corporate tyrant in The Fifth Element (1997). Oldman also displayed a skill for world accents; along with the Transylvanian Count Dracula, Oldman played German-born Viennese composer Ludwig van Beethoven in Immortal Beloved, and Russian terrorist Ivan Korshunov in the 1997 blockbuster Air Force One. He also appeared as the Devil in the 1993 promo video to the Guns N' Roses single "Since I Don't Have You".[29]

Since 2000

Oldman appeared opposite Jeff Bridges as zealous Republican congressman Sheldon Runyon in The Contender (2000), in which he was also credited as a producer. He received a Screen Actors Guild award nomination for his performance. In 2001, he starred opposite Anthony Hopkins in Hannibal, as Mason Verger, the only surviving victim of Hannibal Lecter. Oldman reportedly spent six hours per day in the make-up room to achieve the hideously disfigured appearance of the character.[30] It marked the second time Oldman had appeared opposite Hopkins, a personal friend who was part of the supporting cast of Dracula. Oldman is uncredited in the film, reportedly over a dispute regarding top billing, which was going to co-stars Anthony Hopkins and Juliane Moore. Oldman received an Emmy Award nomination for two guest appearances in Friends in 2001, appearing in the two-part episode "The One with Monica and Chandler's Wedding" as Richard Crosby, a pedantic actor who insists that "real" actors spit on one another when they enunciate, leading to the famous spitting scene between Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc) and himself. Oldman agreed to appear in the series after meeting LeBlanc on the set of Lost in Space in 1998.

Oldman later landed a major role in the Harry Potter film series, playing Harry Potter's godfather Sirius Black. Oldman and star Daniel Radcliffe reportedly became very close during the filming of the series.[31] In 2005, Oldman starred as James Gordon in Christopher Nolan's commercially and critically acclaimed Batman Begins, a role he reprised in the even more successful sequel The Dark Knight (2008). Oldman co-stars with Jim Carrey in the 2009 version of A Christmas Carol in which Oldman plays three roles.[32][33][34] He had a starring role in David Goyer's supernatural thriller The Unborn, released in 2009.[35][36] In 2010, Oldman co-starred with Denzel Washington in The Book of Eli.[37] In this film, Gary speaks in a Jack Nicholson-style voice with a Southern accent.

He has also participated in the creation of The Legend of Spyro games produced by Sierra Entertainment, playing as the voice to the Fire Guardian, Ignitus. He also voices Sergeant Reznov in the award-winning video game Call of Duty: World at War.


In 1997, Oldman directed, produced, and wrote the award-winning Nil by Mouth, a movie partially based on his own childhood.[8] Nil By Mouth went on to win the BAFTA Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film (shared with Douglas Urbanski) and also the BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay, the Channel 4 Director's Award, and an Empire Award, and was declared by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts as one of the one hundred best films of all time. Recently, Nil By Mouth was listed by Time Out as number two of the top 50 best British films ever.

Oldman and producing partner Douglas Urbanski formed the SE8 GROUP to produce Nil By Mouth. The company also produced The Contender, which also starred Oldman. He was also credited as a producer. Oldman has finished his latest screenplay, Chang & Eng, co-written with Darin Strauss, based on the author's book of the same name; SE8 Group will produce. In September 2006, Nokia Nseries Studio[38] released the Oldman-directed short film Donut, with music by Tor Hyams. The film was shot with an N93 in order to promote the phone. Oldman also directed the music video for "Red Rover", a song from Jewish rap group Chutzpah's second CD Hip Hop Fantasy, shot entirely on the N93. Juliet Landau made a 25-minute documentary about the making of the video.


Oldman won a scholarship to the Rose Bruford College, where he received a BA in Theatre Arts in 1979. He had initially applied for enrolment into the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, but was refused entry. Oldman told Charlie Rose in 1995[17] that he was told to "find something else to do for a living". Rose, surprised, asked jokingly, "Have you reminded them of this?", to which Oldman replied that "the work speaks for itself." Following his graduation from Rose Bruford College, 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.[11]


Oldman has had a keen interest in music from an early age. He is a proficient pianist and stated in a 1995 interview with Charlie Rose that he would rather be a musician than an actor.[17] Oldman sang several tracks on the Sid and Nancy soundtrack, and sang and played live piano in the 1988 movie Track 29. He traced over Beethoven compositions in 1994's Immortal Beloved. He also tutored Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe on bass guitar.[39] Oldman appeared on Reeves Gabrels' album The Sacred Squall of Now, performing a vocal duet with David Bowie on the track "You've Been Around".[40]

Popularity and influence

Oldman has long established a cult following among film fans.[24][41] He is known for playing the primary antagonist in a number of popular motion pictures,[2][42] which has seen him referenced in popular culture. MTV's Celebrity Deathmatch aired a match between Oldman and Christopher Walken, citing their portrayals of many memorable Hollywood villains.[43] Oldman's portrayal of Count Dracula was also spoofed by Jim Carrey on Fox comedy series In Living Color.[44] His portrayal of Sid Vicious in Sid & Nancy was ranked #62 in Premiere magazine's "100 Greatest Performances of All Time"[20] and #8 in Uncut magazine's "10 Best actors in rockin' roles",[21] while his portrayal of Stansfield in Léon was ranked #43 in the Online Film Critics Society's "Top 100 Villains of All Time."[45] In 1993, Oldman had a cameo role as the Devil in the promo video to the Guns N' Roses single "Since I Don't Have You"[29]—he also played the Devil in the 2002 BMW short Beat The Devil, alongside Clive Owen, James Brown and Marilyn Manson.[46] On popular video sharing website Youtube, Oldman is the subject of a number of tribute videos. In contrast to his often dark on-screen roles, Oldman's affable real-life demeanour has been noted,[24] and he was named as one of Empire magazine's "100 Sexiest Stars in Film History" in 2007.[47]

Three years after acting together in Lost in Space, Oldman shared scenes with Matt LeBlanc during his appearance on Friends, where Oldman's character insists that "real" actors spit on one another when they enunciate, culminating in a memorable "spitting" confrontation between him and LeBlanc. Oldman's performance was well-received, resulting in an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series.[10]

Oldman has influenced many successful actors, including Brad Pitt,[48] Daniel Radcliffe,[49] Shia LaBeouf,[50] Christian Bale,[51] Joseph Gordon-Levitt,[52] Johnny Depp,[53] Chris Pine,[54] Jason Isaacs[55] and Ryan Gosling, who has cited Oldman as his favourite actor.[56] Oldman has garnered critical acclaim for his diverse performances and portrayals of real-life historical figures[3][4] and is noted for his avoidance of the Hollywood celebrity scene,[3][57] often being referred to as an "actor's actor".[5][6] Film critic Roger Ebert has long been a fan of Oldman's work, hailing him as "one of the great actors, able to play high, low, crass, noble",[58] while Janet Maslin has called him a "phenomenal" actor who "since Sid and Nancy has taken on a string of new accents and dramatic identities with stunning ease."[22] Oldman's portrayals of eccentric villains have occasionally polarized critics.[59] He has recently stated, however, that he seeks to play more reserved roles at this stage in his career.[24][60]

As of 15 December, 2009, motion pictures starring Oldman as leading actor or supporting co-star have grossed over $2.5 billion at the United States box office, and over $6 billion worldwide.[61]

Personal life

Despite numerous lead and supporting roles in major Hollywood productions, Oldman is intensely private with his personal life and is known for his stance on celebrity and the ideals of Hollywood, once stating that "being famous, that's a whole other career. And I haven't got any energy for it."[24] Oldman was born and brought up in London, England, but moved to the United States in the early 1990s.[24] He currently lives in Los Angeles, California with his young family.[62] His problems with alcohol were well known during the early 1990s. After a string of alcohol-fuelled debacles he checked himself into Marworth treatment facility in Waverly, Pennsylvania, for alcoholism treatment in 1993.[63] In subsequent interviews Oldman acknowledged his problems with alcohol and called himself a recovering alcoholic on a 2001 interview with Charlie Rose.[17] In 2001, former wife Donya Fiorentino claimed that Oldman had a drug habit and abused her,[64] a claim which was investigated by the family courts, child custody evaluator, the police, and Los Angeles city attorney. Oldman was awarded legal custody of their children; Fiorentino was granted short court-monitored visits. Today, Oldman lives a teetotal lifestyle and attributes his success in beating his addiction to Alcoholics Anonymous, and has since publicly praised the organisation.[65] On 31 December 2008, in a private, formal ceremony, Oldman married Alexandra Edenborough in Santa Barbara, California.[66]

Oldman has been married four times:

He has three sons: Alfie (b. 1988) from his marriage to Manville, Gulliver Flynn (b. 20 August 1997) and Charlie John (b. 11 February 1999) from his marriage to Fiorentino.[67] His sister, Laila Morse, is also an actress, best known as Mo Harris in the BBC's long-running series EastEnders.


Year Film Role Notes
1982 Remembrance Daniel
1984 Morgan's Boy Colin TV
Meantime Coxy the Skinhead TV
1985 Honest, Decent & True Derek Bates TV
1986 Sid and Nancy Sid Vicious
1987 Prick Up Your Ears Joe Orton
1988 Track 29 Martin
Criminal Law Ben Chase
We Think the World of You Johnny
The Firm Bex Bissell TV
1989 Chattahoochee Emmett Foley
1990 Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead Rosencrantz
Henry & June Pop Credited as Maurice Escargot
State of Grace Jackie Flannery
1991 JFK Lee Harvey Oswald
Heading Home Ian Tyson TV
1992 Dracula Count Dracula
1993 True Romance Drexl Spivey
Romeo Is Bleeding Jack Grimaldi
1994 Léon Norman Stansfield Released as The Professional in the US
Immortal Beloved Ludwig van Beethoven
1995 The Scarlet Letter Rev. Arthur Dimmesdale
Murder in the First Milton Glenn
1996 Basquiat Albert Milo
1997 Air Force One Ivan Korshunov
The Fifth Element Jean-Baptiste Emmanuel Zorg
1998 Quest for Camelot Sir Ruber Voice Only
Lost in Space Dr. Zachary Smith
1999 Jesus Pontius Pilate TV
2000 The Contender Rep. Sheldon Runyon Also Executive Producer
Monsignor Renard Unlisted TV
2001 Friends Richard Crosby TV (2 episodes)
2002 Hannibal Mason Verger Uncredited
Nobody's Baby Buford Hill Also Producer
The Hire: Beat the Devil The Devil Short Subject
Interstate 60 O. W. Grant
Greg the Bunny Himself TV (1 episode)
2003 Tiptoes Rolfe
Sin Charlie Strom
Medal of Honor: Allied Assault Sgt. Jack Barnes Voice Only (Video Game)
True Crime: Streets of LA Rasputin "Rocky" Kuznetskov, Agent Masterson Voice Only (Video Game)
2004 Who's Kyle? Scouse
Dead Fish Lynch
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Sirius Black
2005 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Sirius Black
Batman Begins Sgt. James Gordon
2006 The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning Ignitus Voice Only (Video Game)
The Backwoods Paul
2007 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Sirius Black
The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night Ignitus Voice Only(Video Game)
2008 The Dark Knight Lieutenant/Commissioner James Gordon
Call of Duty: World at War Sgt. Reznov[68] Voice Only(Video Game)
The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon Ignitus Voice Only (Video Game)
2009 The Unborn Rabbi Joseph Sendak
A Christmas Carol Tiny Tim/Bob Cratchit/Jacob Marley
Planet 51 General Grawl Voice Only
Rain Fall Holtzer
2010 The Book of Eli Carnegie
The Legend of Spyro 3D Ignitus Voice
3-D animated CGI film based on a video game franchise
2011 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II[69] Sirius Black Filming

Awards and nominations

Year Group Award Film/Show Result
1987 Evening Standard British Film Awards Most Promising Newcomer Sid and Nancy Won
BAFTA Awards Best Actor Prick Up Your Ears Nominated
1988 London Film Critics' Circle Awards ALFS Award for Actor of the Year Sid and Nancy Won
1990 Independent Spirit Award Best Leading Male Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead Nominated
1992 Saturn Awards Best Actor Dracula Won
1993 MTV Movie Awards Best Kiss (shared with Winona Ryder) Dracula Nominated
1995 Golden Raspberry Awards Worst Screen Couple (shared with Demi Moore) The Scarlet Letter Nominated
1997 BAFTA Awards Best British Film Nil by Mouth Won
Best Screenplay Won
British Independent Film Awards Best British Director of an Independent Film Nominated
Best Original Screenplay by a British Writer of a Produced Independent Film Nominated
Edinburgh International Film Festival Channel 4 Director's Award Won
Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or Nominated
1998 Empire Awards Best Debut Won
Blockbuster Entertainment Awards Favorite Supporting Actor - Action/Adventure Air Force One Nominated
MTV Movie Awards Best Fight (shared with Harrison Ford) Nominated
MTV Movie Awards Best Villain Nominated
1999 Saturn Awards Best Supporting Actor Lost in Space Nominated
2001 Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards Alan J. Pakula Award The Contender Won
Independent Spirit Award Best Supporting Male Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role Nominated
Emmy Awards Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series Friends Nominated
USA Film Festival Master Screen Artist Tribute Award Won
2003 DVD Exclusive Awards Best Supporting Actor Interstate 60 Nominated
2005 Saturn Awards Best Supporting Actor Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Nominated
2008 Scream Awards Best Supporting Actor The Dark Knight Won
2009 People's Choice Awards Best Cast (w/ Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal) The Dark Knight Won


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External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

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.

External links

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Simple English

Gary Oldman
Born Gary Leonard Oldman
21 March 1958 (1958-03-21) (age 52)
New Cross, London, England
Occupation Actor, screenwriter, director, producer, musician
Years active 1979–present
Spouse Lesley Manville (1987-1990)
Uma Thurman (1990-1992)
Donya Fiorentino (1997-2001)
Alexandra Edenborough (2008-present)
Awards Nominated: Palme d'Or - Cannes Film Festival
1997 Nil by Mouth
Saturn Award for Best Actor
1992 Dracula
Critics' Choice Awards - Alan J. Pakula Award
2000 The Contender
Empire Award for Best Debut
1997 Nil by Mouth
ESBF Award for Most Promising Newcomer
1986 Sid & Nancy
ALFS Award for Actor of the Year
1987 Prick Up Your Ears
Scream Award for Best Supporting Actor
2008 The Dark Knight

Gary Oldman is an English actor and film-maker, known for his starring role in the 1992 blockbuster film Dracula.

His other roles include Sid Vicious in "Sid and Nancy", Sirius Black in Harry Potter and James Gordon in the Batman film series.

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