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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 | Director of Real Life

Gary Oldman | Director of Real Life

Ray Winstone in NIL BY MOUTH

While Oldman has masterfully embodied others’ creations, in 1997 he brought his own story to the screen with NIL BY MOUTH. The film – which he wrote, directed and produced – tells the hard-edged tale of a volatile impoverished family scraping by in South London: a violent and alcoholic dad, Ray (Ray Winstone), his abused wife, Valerie (Kathy Burke), and their drug-addicted son, Billy (Charlie Creed-Miles), a lost soul whom Valerie keeps supporting despite herself. The realism of the story came from Oldman’s own memories. As he explained to Filmscouts.com, “I had the idea swimming around inside my head. Finally, I decided to take some time off and deal with it. I said to my agent, 'I don't care if Stanley Kubrick or Martin Scorsese calls me. I'm not acting this year. I want to sit down and address this thing which has been bubbling around in me.'” The final product proved emotionally powerful. Kathy Burke won Best Actress at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival for her portrayal of battered wife Valerie. The sheer realness of the family’s life and circumstances went beyond most expectations. The San Francisco Chronicle declared NIL BY MOUTH to be “as blunt and unsparing as a fist to the gut.” And the New York Times critic Janet Maslin highlighted Oldman’s unflinching sense of reality: “Capturing the same brawling realism and transparent machismo that were hallmarks of John Cassavetes' cinematic benders, Oldman lets his characters posture noisily at first, then begins pulling away layers of self-deception.” But Oldman's reality is ultimately not about pain, but about honesty and care. As he told Time Out London, “I wanted the film to represent the culture and neighbourhood I came from…I made it for Britain… And I'd like the folks round here to see it, because it's not just an art-movie, it's a love letter to them.”