Thursday, February 09, 2012

Prick Up Your Gary Oldman


I got to see a Q&A with Oscar nominee (yay) Gary Oldman last night at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, and he came off exactly as I thought he would - he's much more George Smiley than he is Sid Vicious, at least he is these days. Although he did get in jokes about pornography and masturbation, so I suppose he's in between. He'd probably say he's a little bit of all his characters, but then he's an actor so of course he would. The conversation was a lot about acting and his process in finding a character, which honestly I'm not really the biggest audience for that sort of stuff, but Oldman kept it light enough and never once used the words "my craft," so we're good. We're good, Gary!

Those pictures up top were him describing a spectacular performance he saw Anthony Hopkins give on the stage (I don't remember what play he said it was for but it was before Dracula because he spoke of working with "Tony" after seeing it), and how Hopkins accidentally discovered his character's entire "physicality" - he did use that word a little too much - because he couldn't hear the play's director talking to him from the back of the theater.

He talked a lot about Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula film, which made me happy. About what it was like under that make-up - about how back then they didn't have the hi-tech sorts of silicone they have now so it was a lot of heavy foam, and how you just have to go zen so as to not have a panic attack. And about the voice - he trained with an opera singer for a couple of months to get the low register that he wanted.

He talked about getting typecast for a villain in the wake of the two movies he did with Luc Besson - The Professional and The Fifth Element - but that hey, you gotta keep working so you take what they're offering. That sort of nonchalance kept the conversation moving.

As for the Batman movies he spoke of the secrecy - how he got in trouble for alluding to filming dates at ComiCon, and the way he only sees the whole story come together once they finally screen the thing for the cast. He seemed in awe of Chris Nolan's cool, the way he can shoulder such massive projects without seeming to bat an eyelash, and he said that this third one, The Dark Knight Rises, is most definitely their last one (until the inevitable reboot, of course).

The biggest laugh of the night came when he told about shooting a scene for one of the Harry Potter movies, and how incredulous he was to see Dame Maggie Smith being used to stand around in the background as a glorified extra. She sidled up to him and whispered, "Next time I'm just going to send the fucking hat."

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