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The Good, the Bad & the Badass: Gary Oldman

07.07.2014

Last week, we took a look at the career of Aussie actor Eric Bana, who first made a splash playing one of the screen's great psychopaths in CHOPPER. This week's guy knows a thing or two about that....

Gary Oldman

 

 

OK, so Gary Oldman got himself into a bit of trouble a few weeks ago by going off-the-cuff in his Playboy interview. So what? The fact remains, Oldman is one of the very best actors of his generation. No matter the film, be it a masterpiece or a turd (ahem – LOST IN SPACE) Oldman is always electric. He can elevate just about anything to watchability, and when he's in a great movie, watch out.

What's bizarre about Oldman's filmography are the fallow periods that show up now and then. After THE CONTENDER, word got out that he was being black-balled, and sure enough he did loads of DTV stuff like SIN, or THE BACKWOODS, which he was far too good for. Nevertheless, talent is talent, and after playing Sirius Black in HARRY POTTER & THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN, he came back big time. While mostly known for playing psychos, Oldman seems like he's trying to mix things up a bit, only playing occasional baddies in films like THE BOOK OF ELI. Mostly, he's followed the lead from his sympathetic turn as Jim Gordon in Christopher Nolan's DARK KNIGHT series, and tends to play parts that are more ambiguous, such as this week's DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES.

No matter the part, Oldman is one of the best there is, and choosing movies to highlight proved to be an impossible task. The only way we could make it really work was by focusing on his larger parts, so if you don't see JFK or TRUE ROMANCE on the top five list below, keep that in mind.

His Best Role

 

 

A few years ago this would have been a no-brainer for me. I would have certainly chosen Oldman's breakout performance as Sid Vicious in Alex Cox's SID & NANCY, but then TINKER TAILOR SOLDER SPY came along. Oldman gives the performance of his life as spymaster George Smiley, and what's so clever about his casting is how far removed it is from the way we perceive him. Thanks to movies like THE PROFESSIONAL and THE FIFTH ELEMENT (both excellent) we see him as colourful and over-the-top. As Smiley he's anything but, playing it dour, reserved and quiet. He was deservedly nominated for an Oscar. If they eventually get around to doing “Smiley's People” he just may win.

His Most Overrated Role

 

 

Oldman's been in lots of bad movies, like PARANOIA and TIPTOES, but usually he comes out looking good. But, there's one performance of his I always thought was overpraised. That's AIR FORCE ONE. Now I know a lot of you think it's some kind of classic, and yes – it's fun. It's also one of the goofiest movies of the nineties, and Oldman is pretty much doing his generic baddie thing he, and he doesn't have a heck of a lot of substance to work with. Truth be told, he's more fun in LOST IN SPACE.

His Most Underrated Role

 

 

No doubt, Oldman's most unfairly obscure movie is Phil Joanou's STATE OF GRACE. Oldman plays an Irish mob gunsel who nevertheless manages to emerge as sympathetic, even if he's the kind of guy who torches abandoned buildings for kicks. This is another one of those parts that shows what a chameleon he can be. Watching this, one would never guess the English Oldman wasn't born and bred with The Westies in Hell's Kitchen. ROMEO IS BLEEDING and his directorial vehicule NIL BY MOUTH are also ripe for rediscovery.

His Most Memorable Scene

The only reason TRUE ROMANCE doesn't top my list of Oldman performances is because he's dead within the first half-hour. But Oldman is spectacular as the wanna-be Rastafarian drug-dealer Drexl, and his two scenes are brilliant. This bit with Slater is arguably the movie's best scene. Arguably.

His Top-Five Performances

5. STATE OF GRACE
4. THE PROFESSIONAL
3. BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA
2. SID & NANCY
1. TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY

Up Next

Always a busy guy, Oldman plays one of the leads in this week's highly anticipated DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, while later this year (hopefully) he stars alongside Tom Hardy in the thriller CHILD 44.

Check out some of Oldman's best quotes below!

Source: JoBlo.com

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