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Gary Oldman, the star of David Fincher‘s new film Mank and the guest on this episode of Awards Chatter, has been one of the big screen’s most revered and chameleonic actors for 35 years. The British Film Institute called him “arguably the finest British actor of his generation,” Vanity Fair described him as “the most brilliant actor of his generation,” and he was labeled “the greatest film actor of his generation” by Alec Baldwin, “a candidate for the title of Greatest Living Actor” by Colin Firth and “the reason I’m acting” by Christian Bale.
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You can listen to the episode here. The article continues below.
Past guests include Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, Lorne Michaels, Barbra Streisand, George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Robert De Niro, Jennifer Lawrence, Eddie Murphy, Gal Gadot, Warren Beatty, Angelina Jolie, Snoop Dogg, Jessica Chastain, Stephen Colbert, Reese Witherspoon, Aaron Sorkin, Margot Robbie, Ryan Reynolds, Nicole Kidman, Denzel Washington, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Matthew McConaughey, Kate Winslet, Jimmy Kimmel, Natalie Portman, Chadwick Boseman, Jennifer Lopez, Elton John, Judi Dench, Quincy Jones, Jane Fonda, Tom Hanks, Amy Schumer, Justin Timberlake, Elisabeth Moss, RuPaul, Rachel Brosnahan, Jimmy Fallon, Kris Jenner, Michael Moore, Emilia Clarke, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Helen Mirren, Tyler Perry, Sally Field, Spike Lee, Lady Gaga, J.J. Abrams, Emma Stone, Al Pacino, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Jerry Seinfeld, Dolly Parton, Will Smith, Kerry Washington, Sacha Baron Cohen, Carol Burnett, Norman Lear, Keira Knightley, David Letterman, Sophia Loren, Hugh Jackman, Melissa McCarthy, Chris Evans, Carey Mulligan, Seth MacFarlane, Amy Adams, Ben Affleck, Julia Roberts, Jake Gyllenhaal, Glenn Close, Will Ferrell, Cate Blanchett, Sacha Baron Cohen, Greta Gerwig, Conan O’Brien, Jodie Foster & Kevin Hart.
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Oldman, born into a working-class London family, started out in the British theater, but made his name on British TV and in British art house indies like Mike Leigh‘s Meantime in 1983, Alex Cox‘s Sid and Nancy in 1986 and Stephen Frears‘ Prick Up Your Ears in 1987. Considered, along with Daniel Day-Lewis and Tim Roth, a central member of a group of up-and-coming young British actors nicknamed ‘The Brit Pack,’ he eventually moved to Hollywood in 1990.
There, he demonstrated incredible range in everything from Oliver Stone‘s JFK in 1991 to Francis Ford Coppola‘s Dracula in 1992, and played memorable villains films in like Tony Scott‘s True Romance in 1993, Luc Besson‘s The Professional in 1994 and The Fifth Element in 1997 and Wolfgang Petersen‘s Air Force One in 1997.
He then entered a period of working less frequently — mostly in supporting parts in the Harry Potter and Batman film franchises, which introduced him to a new generation of moviegoers — only to re-emerge, over the past decade, doing some of the best work of his career.
He was an Oscar and BAFTA award nominee for Tomas Alfredson‘s 2011 film Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy; he was an Oscar, Golden Globe, SAG, Critics Choice and BAFTA award winner for Joe Wright‘s 2017 film Darkest Hour, in which he played Winston Churchill; and he is currently nominated for Golden Globe, SAG and Critics Choice awards — with Academy and BAFTA award nominations likely to follow — for his portrayal of the hard-drinking screenwriter and wit Herman J. Mankiewicz in Mank.
Over the course of our conversation, the 62-year-old and I discussed how acting entered his life in the first place; the things that occurred outside of the public eye that shaped his professional path, from a battle with alcoholism to being typecast as a villain to becoming a single father; the challenges and rewards of playing people who actually lived, from Sid Vicious to Joe Orton to Lee Harvey Oswald to Churchill and Mankiewicz; and much more.
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