Gary Oldman on Playing Churchill: "I Came Away with Enormous Admiration for Him - He's Incomparable" | Actor Roundtable
The Oscar-nominated actor saw the former British prime minister in a different light than he has been depicted in other biopics.
"[Winston] Churchill is arguably the greatest Brit who ever lived to many, and they have an idea of who he is, and they've seen these pictures. But, do they really know who he is?" Gary Oldman, who portrays Churchill is the film Darkest Hour, asked during The Hollywood Reporter's Actor Roundtable.
He went on to pose another question about how people view Churchill, saying, "Are [people] remembering Churchill, or are they remembering Albert Finney as Churchill or Robert Hardy as Churchill?"
Oldman felt he was "somewhat contaminated" by earlier portrayals of the former British prime minister, but from his research he "came away with enormous admiration for [Churchill]," and told moderator Stephen Galloway and the other actors on the Roundtable that Churchill is "incomparable to any figure," although he suggested that Abraham Lincoln would be the closest comparison.
"Here's a man 50 years in politics, he wrote 50 books, the Nobel Prize for literature, painted 540 paintings, had 16 exhibitions at the Royal Academy, flip-flopped twice [politically], commended in four wars."
Churchill has been depicted a few times as what Oldman describes as a "Grumpy, curmudgeon, drunk, with a whisky and a cigar,” but the Oscar-nominated actor set out "deliberately to be different," stating, "The man that [he] saw on this footage [that he viewed in preparation for the film] was different than some of the ways that he has been represented."
During the conversation, Oldman also touched on a moment when he froze for a few weeks before filming for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. "I had bone-crushing stage fright. It was really debilitating. I think also it was trying to slay the dragon for many people."
"I've since spoken with other actors, and I realized I was not alone. It was like an AA meeting or something."
The full Actor Roundtable also features Tom Hanks, James Franco, John Boyega, Sam Rockwell and Willem Dafoe, and will air Sunday, Jan. 28, on SundanceTV. Tune in to THR.com/roundtables for more roundtables featuring talent from the year's top films.