Oldman, Gary 1958–

views updated May 18 2018

OLDMAN, Gary 1958

(Maurice Escargot)


Full name, Leonard Gary Oldman; born March 21, 1958, in London, England; father, a welder; mother, a homemaker; married Lesley Manville (an actress; divorced); married Uma Thurman (an actress), 1991 (divorced, 1993); married Donya Fiorentino (a model and photographer), February 16, 1997 (divorced, 2001); children: (first marriage) Alfred; (third marriage) Gulliver Flynn, Charlie John. Education: Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama, B.A. (with honors), theatre arts, 1979; trained for the stage at Greenwich Young People's Theatre.

Addresses: Manager Douglas J. Urbanski, Douglas Management, Inc., 84461/2 Melrose Pl., Los Angeles, CA 900695308. Agent Creative Artists Agency, 9830 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90212.

Career: Actor, producer, director, and writer. SE8 Group (a production company), principal. Previously a member of Theatre Royal, York, England; appeared in television commercials for One to One, 2001; appeared in print advertisements.

Awards, Honors: Drama Magazine Award, best actor, British Theatre Association, 1985, and Fringe Award, best newcomer, Time Out Magazine, 198586, both for The Pope's Wedding; Evening Standard Award, best newcomer in a film, 1986, for Sid and Nancy; Film Award nomination, best actor, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, ALFS Award, actor of the year, London Critics Circle Film Awards, 1988, for Prick Up Your Ears; Independent Spirit Award nomination, best male lead, 1991, for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead; Annual Cable Excellence (ACE) Award, best actor in a dramatic series, 1993, for Sydney Pollack's "Fallen Angels "; Saturn Award, best actor, Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, MTV Movie Award nomination (with Winona Ryder), best kiss, 1993, for Dracula; Blockbuster Entertainment Award nomination, favorite supporting actor in an action or adventure, and MTV Movie Award nominations, best fight (with Harrison Ford) and best villain, all 1997, for Air Force One; Film Award, best original screenplay, and Alexander Korda Award (with Luc Besson and Douglas Urbanski), best British film, both British Academy of Film and Television Arts, British Independent Film Award nominations, best British director of an independent film and best original screenplay by a British writer of a produced independent film, Channel 4 Director's Award, Edinburgh International Film Festival, and Golden Camera and Golden Palm Award nominations, both Cannes Film Festival, 1997, Empire Award, best debut, 1998, all for Nil by Mouth; Saturn Award nomination, best supporting actor, 1999, for Lost in Space; Alan J. Pakula Award (with others), Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards, Independent Spirit Award nomination, best supporting male, Screen Actors Guild Award nomination, outstanding performance by a male actor in a supporting role, 2001, all for The Contender; Emmy Award nomination, outstanding guest actor in a comedy series, 2001, for Friends.


Film Appearances:

Sid Vicious, Sid and Nancy (also known as Love Kills and Sid and Nancy: Love Kills ), Samuel Goldwyn, 1986.

Joe Orton, Prick Up Your Ears, Samuel Goldwyn, 1987.

Martin, Track 29, Island, 1988.

Johnny, We Think the World of You, Cinecom, 1988.

Ben Chase, Criminal Law, TriStar, 1988.

Emmett Foley, Chattahoochee, Hemdale, 1990.

Jackie Flannery, State of Grace, Orion, 1990.

(As Maurice Escargot) Pop, Henry and June, Universal, 1990.

Superstar: The Life and Times of Andy Warhol, 1990.

Rosencrantz, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Cinecom, 1990.

Lee Harvey Oswald, JFK, Warner Bros., 1991.

Count Vlad Dracul/Dracula, Bram Stoker's Dracula (also known as Dracula ), Columbia, 1992.

Beyond JFK: The Question of Conspiracy (documentary), 1992.

Drexl Spivey, True Romance (also known as Breakaway ), Warner Bros., 1993.

Ludwig van Beethoven, Immortal Beloved, Columbia, 1994.

Agent Norman Stansfield, The Professional (also known as The Cleaner and Leon ), Columbia, 1994.

Jack Grimaldi, Romeo Is Bleeding, Gramercy, 1994.

Associate Warden Glenn, Murder in the First, Warner Bros., 1995.

Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, The Scarlet Letter, Buena Vista, 1995.

Albert Milo, Basquiat (also known as Build a Fort, Set It on Fire ), Miramax, 1996.

Ivan Korshunov, terrorist, Air Force One (also known as AFO ), Columbia, 1997.

JeanBaptiste Emmanuel Zorg, The Fifth Element (also known as The Fifth Man and Le cinquieme element ), Columbia, 1997.

Dr. Zachary Smith and Spider Smith, Lost in Space (also known as LS ), New Line Cinema, 1998.

Voice of Sir Ruber, Quest for Camelot (also known as Camelot and The MagicSword: Quest for Camelot ), Warner Bros., 1998.

Representative Sheldon 'Shelly' Runyon, The Contender (also known as RufmordJenseits der Moral ), DreamWorks, 2000.

Buford Dill, Nobody's Baby, Millenium, 2001.

(Uncredited) Mason Verger, Hannibal, MCA/Universal, 2001.

Breaking the Silence: The Making of 'Hannibal', 2001.

The Making of a Political Thriller, 2001.

O. W. Grant, Interstate 60 (also known as I60 and Interstate 60: Episodes of the Road ), Samuel Goldwyn, 2002.

Rolfe, Tiptoes, Reality Check, 2003.

Sirius Black, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Warner Bros., 2004.

Film Work:

Producer and director, Nil by Mouth (also known as Ne pas avaler ), Sony Pictures Classics, 1997.

Executive producer, Plunkett and Macleane, Gramercy, 1999.

Executive producer, The Contender (also known as RufmordJenseits der Moral ), DreamWorks, 2000.

Stage Appearances:

Massacre at Paris, Glasgow Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, Scotland, 1980.

Chinchilla, Glasgow Citizens Theatre, 1980.

Desperado Corner, Glasgow Citizens Theatre, 1980.

A Waste of Time, Glasgow Citizens Theatre, 1980.

Soldier, Summit Conference, Lupton Theatre Company, Lyric Theatre, London, 1982.

P. C. Naylor, Rat in the Skull, Royal Court Theatre, London, 1984.

Scopey, The Pope's Wedding, Royal Court Theatre, 1984.

Mike, Saved, Royal Court Theatre, 1984.

Son, "Red, Black, and Ignorant," third man, "Tin Can People," and son and man, "Great Peace," The War Plays, Royal Shakespeare Company, The Pit, London, 1985.

Major Carp and Petko, The Desert Air, Royal Shakespeare Company, The Pit, 1985.

Sordido, Women Beware Women, Royal Court Theatre, 1986.

Jack, Real Dreams, Royal Shakespeare Company, The Pit, 1986.

Grimes and Billy Corman, Serious Money, Royal Court Theatre, 1987.

Also appeared in Minnesota Moon, London.

Major Tours:

Toured in Chinchilla, Desperado Corner, Massacre at Paris, and A Waste of Time, all with Glasgow Citizens Theatre, European and South American cities.

Television Appearances; Movies:

Daniel, Remembrance, Channel 4, released in the United States as a film, Mainline, 1982.

Coxy, Meantime, Channel 4, 1983, released in the United States as a film, Film 4, 1984.

Derek Bates, Honest, Decent, and True, BBC, released in the United States in 1985.

Bex Bissek, The Firm, 1988.

Ian Tyson, Heading Home, Arts and Entertainment, 1992.

Charlie Strom, Sin, Starz!, 2001.

Also appeared in Morgan's Boy, and as P. C. Naylor in Rat in the Skull.

Television Appearances; Episodic:

Pat Kelly, "DeadEnd for Delia," Sydney Pollack's "Fallen Angels, " Showtime, 1993.

Late Show with David Letterman, 1994.

Hairdresser, "Hair," Tracey Takes On ... , 1999.

Dennis Miller Live, 2001.

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, 2001.

Richard Crosby, "The One with Monica and Chandler's Wedding: Parts 1 & 2," Friends, NBC, 2001.

"Piddler on the Roof," Greg the Bunny, Fox, 2002.

Also appeared in Backstory, AMC; as Ruber in these animated series, "Quest for Camelot," Villain Toon Jam, The Cartoon Characters Villains, Mickey & Bugs' House of Villains, and "Ruber's Revenge," Devon and Cornwall: The Series.

Television Appearances; Miniseries:

Voice of Lee Harvey Oswald, "Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald? ", 1992.

Pontius Pilate, Jesus, CBS, 1999.

Television Appearances; Specials:

Narrator, Tales of Edgar Allan Poe, The Learning Channel, 2001.

7th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, E! Entertainment Television, 2001.

Presenter, 2001 Creative Arts Emmy Awards, E! Entertainment Television, 2001.

Presenter, 17th Annual IFP/West Independent Spirit Awards, Independent Film Channel, 2002.

The 100 Greatest Movie Stars, Channel 4, 2003.

Television Work; Movies:

Producer, Sin, Starz!, 2001.


Music Videos:

Appeared in Since I Don't Have You by Guns n' Roses, 1994.

Albums; Contributor:

"I Wanna Be Your Dog" and "My Way," Sid and Nancy (original soundtrack recording), 1986.

Also sang on the compilation CD Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud and "You've Been Around," a duet with David Bowie on The Sacred Squall of Now.

Video Games:

Voice of Jean Baptiste Emanuel Zorg, The Fifth Element (also known as Le cinquieme element ), Activision, 1998.

True Crime: Streets of LA, 2003.

Voice of Sergeant Jack Barnes, Medal of Honor: Allied AssaultSpearhead, Electronic Arts, 2003.



Nil by Mouth (also known as Ne pas avaler ), Sony Pictures Classics, 1997.



International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, Volume 3: Actors and Actresses, St. James Press, 1996.

Newsmakers 1998, Gale, 1998.


American Film, April, 1988.

Entertainment Weekly, February 10, 1995, p. 14.

Harper's Bazaar, February, 1998, p. 196.

Interview, January, 1992, p. 84; February, 1998, p. 60.

New York Times, November 8, 1992.

Oldman, Gary

views updated May 11 2018


Nationality: British. Born: London, England, 21 March 1958. Education: Attended Rose Buford College of Speech and Drama, London. Family: Married 1) Donya Fiorentino, 1997, two sons: Gulliver Flynn and Charlie John; 2) Lesley Manville (divorced), one son: Alfred; 3) the actress Uma Thurman, 1990 (divorced 1992). Career: 1980—stage debut in Massacre at Paris; 1980–86—theatrical appearances include Chincilla, A Waste of Time, Summit Conference, The Pope's Wedding, Desert Air, Women Beware Women, Real Dreams, and Smart Money; 1982—film debut in Remembrance; 1993—in "Dead End for Delia" episode of Fallen Angels TV series. Awards: Fringe Best Newcomer Award, 1985–86; Drama Magazine Award, for Best Actor of the Year, 1985; Cable Ace Award, Best Actor in a Dramatic Series, for "Dead End for Delia" ep. of Fallen Angels, 1994; Channel Four Director's Award, 51E Scottish Screen Edinburgh International Film Festival. Agent: c/o Duncan Heath, 162–170 Wardour Street, London W1V 3AT, England.

Films as Actor:


Remembrance (Gregg) (as Daniel)


Meantime (Leigh—for TV) (as Coxy)


Honest, Decent and True (Les Blair—for TV)


Sid and Nancy (Cox) (as Sid Vicious)


Prick Up Your Ears (Frears) (as Joe Orton)


We Think the World of You (Gregg) (as Johnny Burney); Track 29 (Roeg) (as Martin); The Firm (Alan Clarke—for TV) (as Bex Bissek)


Paris by Night; Criminal Law (Campbell) (as Ben Chase)


Heading Home (Hare) (as Ian Tyson); State of Grace (Joanou) (as Jack Flannery); Chattahoochee (Mick Jackson) (as Emmett Foley); Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (Stoppard) (as Rosencrantz); Henry and June (Kaufman) (as Pop, under pseudonym Maurice Escargot)


JFK (Oliver Stone) (as Lee Harvey Oswald)


Bram Stoker's Dracula (Francis Ford Coppola) (as Vlad Dracula)


True Romance (Tony Scott) (as Drexl Spivey); Romeo Is Bleeding (Medak) (as Jack Grimaldi); Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald? (doc for TV) (as voice of Oswald)


Leon (The Cleaner; The Professional) (Besson) (as Stansfield); Immortal Beloved (Rose) (as Ludvig von Beethoven)


Murder in the First (Rocco) (as Associate Warden Glenn); The Scarlet Letter (Joffe) (as the Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale)


Basquiat (Build a Fort, Set It on Fire) (Schnabel) (as Albert Milo)


The Fifth Element (Besson) (as Jean-Baptiste Emmanuel Zorg); Air Force One (Petersen) (as Egor Korshunov)


Lost in Space (Stephen Hopkins) (as Dr. Zachary Smith); Quest for Camelot (Du Chau) (as Ruber)


Jesus (Young—mini for TV) (as Pontius Pilate)


The Contender (Lurie) (as Congressman Sheldon B. Runyon + pr); Anasazi Moon (Seltzer) (role)

Films as Producer


Nil by Mouth (+ dir, sc)


Plunkett & Macleane (Scott) (exec pr)


By OLDMAN: book —

Nil by Mouth, London, 1999.

By OLDMAN: articles—

"Gary Oldman: Wildman of the Brit Pack," interview with Fred Schruers, in Rolling Stone (New York), 18 October 1990.

Interview with Dennis Hopper, in Interview (New York), January 1992.

"Dracula Speaks: Gary Oldman and His Role as the Count," interview in Film Review (London), February 1993.

"True Grit," interview with Geoff Andrew, in Time Out (London), 3 September 1997.

On OLDMAN: articles—

Steinberg, Robert, "Gary Oldman Turns up the Heat in Hell's Kitchen," in American Film (Los Angeles), October 1990.

Abramowitz, Rachel, "Neck Romance," in Premiere (New York), December 1992.

Ascher-Walsh, Rebecca, "Immortal Bedeviled," in Entertainment Weekly (New York), 10 February 1995.

Current Biography 1996, New York, 1996.

Rebello, S. and others, "Who's the Best Actor in Hollywood?" in Movieline (Escondido), October 1996.

* * *

Gary Oldman is an actor with a chameleon-like quality. From part to part—and a widely varying lot they are—he is utterly convincing; as often as not, he is also unrecognizable. Usually, this spells doom to an actor's potential for stardom. Audiences cannot follow an actor they cannot find. But Oldman has mysteriously avoided this trap; perhaps because of his versatility and range—both of which not even his closest competitor, fellow Brit Daniel Day Lewis, has matched—he has somehow managed to achieve that stardom. Unlike Day Lewis, however, he has yet to win an Oscar, but this cannot be for long.

After making his screen debut in Remembrance and then appearing among the cast of Mike Leigh's "kitchen sink" TV drama Meantime, Oldman shot into the public mind with his lacerating, in-your-face performance as the self-destructive punk rocker Sid Vicious in Alex Cox's Sid and Nancy, the first of several, disparate biopic roles he would undertake in the years to come.

Vicious's rebelliousness against society aside, there would seem to be little in the character or Oldman's uncanny incarnation of it to suggest, "Gee, that's just the guy to play avante-garde, gay British playwright Joe Orton!" But that is exactly what director Stephen Frears did think and Oldman was cast in Prick Up Your Ears, the film version of John Lahr's Orton biography which traced the short life of the working-class writer whose meteoric career was cut short when his lover Kenneth Halliwell (Alfred Molina) murdered him in 1967. Oldman's personification of Orton was so persuasive that even hard-to-please British director/film historian Ken Russell was given to note: "Gary Oldman as the gay genius turned in a remarkable performance, managing the transition from ingenuous provincial lad to glam metropolitan sophisticate with an invisible technique."

Sporting a variety of convincing regional accents and dialects, Oldman has played an array of thoroughly American characters no less vividly, from lowlife drug running scum (True Romance, The Professional) to noir heroes fixated on the wrong woman (Romeo Is Bleeding). As the Boston defense lawyer who gets psycho Kevin Bacon acquitted then fights to get him behind bars when Bacon kills again, Oldman brought sorely needed dignity to the utterly exploitative Criminal Law, his American film debut. State of Grace, an Irish-American Mean Streets about the Hell's Kitchen gang known as the Westies, found Oldman on the opposite side of the law (not for the first time or the last) as a none-too-bright gangster killed by his own brother (Ed Harris) as a payoff to the Mob. In Chattahoochee, Oldman himself was behind bars as a Korean war vet suffering post-traumatic stress syndrome who is wrongfully incarcerated in a mental institution that makes Bedlam look like Sunnybrook Farm, and brings some welcome reform to it. In Murder in the First, he squared off once more against Kevin Bacon, a prisoner who goes mad due to the brutal treatment of Oldman's Alcatraz warden. The latter two films were based on true stories.

JFK on the other hand was based on theory and supposition. Marshaling mountains of information uncovered by Warren Report critics over the years, director Oliver Stone's provocative docudrama concluded that the Mob served as functionaries in a much broader, government-managed scheme to assassinate Kennedy, a scheme in which Lee Harvey Oswald was just what he said he was, a "patsy." While the veracity of the film's conspiracy theories were vigorously challenged by critics, Oldman's dead-on portrait of Oswald was roundly applauded as eerily accurate in voice and manner. Oldman even looked the part, without the use of much makeup—another trademark of the actor's amazing, and seemingly effortless, virtuosity in biopic roles. Two years later, he supplied the voice of Oswald, reading from Oswald's own diaries, in a PBS Frontline documentary rebutting much of the Stone epic's conspiracy evidence. Again, the effect was positively eerie.

Since then, Oldman has played everything from the screen's most passionate yet monstrously otherworldly Dracula to Beethoven (bearing yet another uncanny physical resemblance to the character) to Nathaniel Hawthorne's guilt-ridden puritan adulterer who gets Demi Moore's anachronistically feminist Hester Prynne saddled with The Scarlet Letter. And yet his career is still in its prime.

On Hollywood's A list for roles as the villainous counterpart to screen superheroes like Bruce Willis and Harrison Ford, Oldman has appeared, without fear of being swallowed by the special effects and pyrotechnics, in some of the biggest-budgeted science-fiction spectaculars of recent vintage too—The Fifth Element (almost unrecognizable as the alien evil), and Air Force One (as a terrorist who holds the President and family hostage in the skies). And rather than giving the impression that he's slumming in such films, he invests his performances with twists that makes the characters he plays in them more rather than less visible amid all the high-tech razzle-dazzle. For example, in Lost in Space, a bloated spin on the old television series of the same name, he studiously underplays his role as the villainous Dr. Smith to stay noticed—in marked contrast to all about him in the film who feel the need to chew the scenery.

Typically, leading men add longevity to their working lives by aging gracefully, and almost imperceptibly, into character roles. Oldman has a strong leg up. He is a charismatic leading man and bravura character actor already—with, like many successful actors of his generation, an eye on moving behind the camera as well. 1997's Nil by Mouth—a searing, semi-autobiographical portrait of a working-class British family brought low by alcoholism, abuse, and other dysfunctions—marked his debut as a triple-threat auteur. He not only produced the critically well-received and award-winning (but not widely seen) film, he wrote and directed it too. Perhaps it might have found a wider audience if he'd starred in it as well.

—John McCarty