I think one of the hallmarks of a good actor is their ability to blend into their character so much that the actor disappears and all that remains is the character that they’re performing. This isn’t as easy as it sounds and many actors can’t quite pull this off. A classic example is Keanu Reeves. Now, I really like Keanu. He and I share the same birthday so of course, Virgos are awesome. But I don’t think anyone would take the position that he’s got a versatile acting range. He’s Keanu Reeves playing Neo. He’s Keanu Reeves playing Ted. He’s Keanu Reeves playing Johnny Utah. He’s Keanu Reeves playing Jonathan Harker (ugh). He’s Keanu Reeves playing Le Chevalier Raphael Danceny (double ugh). His characters are a translucent coat that changes his hue (slightly) but leaves him still quite visible.
On the other hand, some actors disappear so completely that you forget all of the memorable roles that they’ve played. No one exemplifies this more to me than Gary Oldman. His is chameleonesque. A master of disguise. A shapeshifter. At times I wonder if he’s human or a T-1000.
How many iconic roles has he played? How many can you name? Here’s a brief list of some of his better known roles:
Count Dracula – Dracula (1992)
Drexel Spivey – True Romance (1993)
Stansfield – Leon: The Professional (1994)
Ludwig Von Beethoven – Immortal Beloved (1994)
Rev. Arthur Dimmesdale – The Scarlet Letter (1995)
Jean-Baptiste Emmanuel Zorg – The 5th Element (1997)
Ivan Korshunov – Air Force One (1997)
Dr. Zachary Smith – Lost In Space (1998)
Mason Verger – Hannibal (2001)
Sirius Black – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
James Gordon – The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
It has long been rumored that Oldman never uses the same accent twice in any role he’s played. I don’t know if this is true and I don’t think I’m up for watching every one of his films in succession to verify this so let’s just go with the assumption that it’s true and sit back and say “Wow, that’s cool”.
He’s been praised by fans, film critics, directors and fellow actors and many feel he’s the greatest living actor today. I know I do. Surprisingly, although he has a long list of award nominations and wins, he’s never been presented with an Academy Award. In fact, he’s only been nominated once and that was recently for his role in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Baffling, I know.
Despite his extraordinary talent, Oldman is human and not immune to controversy. He was arrested for drunk driving in 1991 and has made comments over the years that have not been received well by the public, most notably during an interview with Playboy magazine when he attempted to defend the actions of Mel Gibson and Alec Baldwin. He also tried to illustrate, rather poorly what he feels is hypocrisy in Political Correctness:
“Well, if I called Nancy Pelosi a cunt — and I’ll go one better, a fucking useless cunt — I can’t really say that,” said Oldman. “But Bill Maher and Jon Stewart can, and nobody’s going to stop them from working because of it. Bill Maher could call someone a fag and get away with it. He said to Seth MacFarlane this year, ‘I thought you were going to do the Oscars again. Instead they got a lesbian.’ He can say something like that. Is that more or less offensive than Alec Baldwin saying to someone in the street, ‘You fag’? I don’t get it.”
He has since issued a public apology for those comments.
While I may not agree with his arguably conservative outlook (apparently he considers himself a Libertarian), I respect him as an actor. Furthermore I defend his right to voice his opinion, regardless of how it may be received by his fans and critics alike.
Gary, just keep making movies and knocking it out of the park with your acting and you can call Nancy Pelosi a fucking useless cunt all you want. I’ll do the same with Ann Coulter. Cheers mate.