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People in Film | Gary Oldman

Posted October 24, 2011 to photo album "People in Film | Gary Oldman"

From playing Sex Pistol Sid Vicious to master spy George Smiley, Gary Oldman has created characters so realistic that even if they are not based on real people, we believe they are.

Gary Oldman | Finding George Smiley
Gary Oldman | A Childhood of Ambitions
Gary Oldman | Bringing Real People to Life
Gary Oldman | Making Characters Real
Gary Oldman | Director of Real Life
Gary Oldman | Bringing Real People to Life

Gary Oldman | Bringing Real People to Life


Both shocking and spectacular, Alex Cox’s punk romance SID AND NANCY brought Oldman to the public’s attention. Roger Ebert was quick to recognize his talent, noting, “Performances like the ones in this film go beyond movie acting and into some kind of evocation of real lives.” Even Sex Pistols front man John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) commended Oldman’s veracity, writing in his memoir, Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs, “The chap who played Sid, Gary Oldman, I thought was quite good.” His genius for playing real people was further showcased in his next film, PRICK UP YOUR EARS, a biopic of playwright Joe Orton. (Interestingly, Orton’s play “The Entertaining Mr. Sloane” helped launch his stage career.) The director Stephen Frears remembers that on set “He [Oldman] turned up actually looking like Joe…I hadn't expected the physical resemblance, but that came naturally to him.” Indeed New York Times critic Vincent Canby recognized Oldman’s unique aptitude, writing that he “looks remarkably like the playwright and surpasses his fine work as Sid Vicious in SID AND NANCY.” Throughout his career, Oldman would often be asked to bring real life figures to life on screen, be it Lee Harvey Oswald in Oliver Stone’s JFK, or Beethoven in Bernard Rose’s IMMORTAL BELOVED. Oldman once joked in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that playing real people is “a double-edged sword because in one sense you have a lot of material to work with, but in a strange kind of way that puts up a framework that you have to keep within. You can't play Beethoven with pink hair, but to an extent, because no one has ever met him, who's going to tell me that's not Beethoven?"