JER: The basis of this article is driven primarily from the ignorance and untrained expertise of a local “movie critic” in my Palm Springs area who went on a rant about Gary Oldman as an actor and how he seems to always play the exact same 'brooding' characters in all his movies. He was tired of the same roles and wanted to see him expand is comfort zone into other roles instead! My friend, it is time to enlighten you since you obviously did not do your homework!
To begin with, Gary Oldman first came to my attention as the heavy boozing, drug infused embodiment of Sid Vicious, bass player for
’s punk band “The Sex Pistols” in the film SID AND NANCY in 1986. England
|As Vlad in BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA|
|Oldman as an older Beethoven|
1994 would mark another pivotal step in his acting resume as Oldman would take on the role of Ludwig Van Beethoven in IMMORTAL BELOVED. Playing Beethoven with a German accent and distinguished hairstyles and wigs of the era, Oldman also had to portray Ludwig as a deaf man, keeping certain poise in body language and presentations as well as learning the necessary compositions on piano.
We can hop- skip a few years in between and bring it more recently when we talk about Oldman’s contribution to the Harry Potter franchise by fleshing out the character of Sirius Black in 2004’s HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN. We meet Black through Potter’s perception of introduction: a murderer; cold, callus and untrusting. Oldman portrays Black in the same fashion… deep and dark. The tide turns once we learn that Black is here to help Potter and that he is a kind, caring and enduring individual. Thus, again, calling on Oldman’s talents to switch portrayals to give both Potter and the viewing audience that element of surprise. Sirius Black would return in 2005’s HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE and 2007’s HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX.
|Gordon- BATMAN BEGINS|
In conclusion, the actor that is Gary Oldman has been able to show many different sides to his acting abilities by not being type-casted into certain roles, but showing a full and well- rounded body of work in dramatic and comedic portrayals as well as bring a master of disguise: in accents and physical appearances.
JOHNNY CHAZZ: Intriguing topic this week, Jer, and I can understand your concern in response to the recent words that were spoken by a "movie" critic in your area... First off, I have never really seen anything wrong with the idea of an actor / actress playing the same types of roles over and over. Heck, let's name drop: Robert DeNiro, Joes Pesci, Denzel Washington, Bruce Willis, and Samuel Jackson. To add, I could also mention classic actors such as Marlon Brando and Jimmy Stewart as having played similar roles in films over the years. Still, these names that I have listed are all award-winning actors who should rate high on anyone's list (although, as I always state - art appreciation remains subjective in the mind of the viewer). So, allow me to discuss this career of Gary Oldman for a moment. To be real honest, I am not a real fan of his films but with the same token that is not what the topic of discussion centers around here. SID & NANCY with Gary Oldman as Sid Vicious may have been one of his top roles. Servign as a cult classic, I always felt that not only was this role ideal for Oldman, but that his performance dictated the pace and mood of the film - dark, surreal and pretty dark and disturbing. A few years later of course we see him as "Lee Harvey Oswald" in JFK prompting Roger Ebert to label him as one of the best young British actors in cinema. This film (JFK) was also a real breakthrough on an International scale allowing
.. movie watchers to get a taste for his talents. Over the course of the next five years, we would see Oldman play roles in DRACULA, TRUE ROMANCE, THE PROFESSIONAL (a very good film for the record), THE FIFTH ELEMENT (a disastrous film on many counts in my opinion) and then in 2001 as a revengeful killer in HANNIBAL with that raspy voice and disfigured visage. U.S.
|Oldman in LEON: THE PROFESSIONAL|
What we have here is a talented actor who has played roles that are fairly similar in terms of being dark, disturbing and often times downright evil. However, we must create a distinction between that and what your local critic was exactly getting at, Jer. You state that he went on a rant regarding “how unoriginal Gary Oldman is as an actor and how all his characters always seem to be the same”. Perhaps he is right and in another sense perhaps he is not right. Oldman’s characters are generally “dark” in nature, but we have come to accept that as an audience and those of us who appreciate his work have no quarrels about his leading in these types of roles. To tell you the truth, he does it well. The roles remain original since there is no way to draw a line between the likes of Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols and Oldman acting the role of a pimp in TRUE ROMANCE.
|STATE OF GRACE|
I would imagine this is a “personal” issue in a sense. Maybe it was the legal issues surrounding Oldman or his reclusive nature that bothers your critic, but I always say "Love the art - and don't get too caught up in the artist". It appears (speculation here, but a fair guess at that) that your film critic in your area simply does not care for Gary Oldman as an actor in some way, shape or form and, well...... it is probably as simple as that, Jer.
JER: I don’t believe it was a personal issue, it just sounded as if this critic was just on a rant about how he feels that Oldman plays the same characters, brooding characters was the phrase used, from what I heard…as if there is no originality or growth span from his part. What is most disturbing is the fact that I personally feel this is one of the greatest and most original actors to come out from the 90’s! I think those comments are better directed at others who cannot seem to get out of the vice- grip they have created for themselves.
Thank you for mentioning Luc Besson’s THE PROFESSIONAL or LEON: THE PROFESSIONAL, as it is known in special editions available on DVD and Blu-Ray. I forgot about the role of Norman Stansfield… nothing can be more unnerving than when Stansfield pops his little pill; doing that twist of the neck gesture and comes around a completely different person… almost like a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ metamorphic occurrence that has been presented before our very eyes. He delivers a glare so piercing that I was uneasy when I found myself caught in the receiving end of it.
JOHNNY CHAZZ: Staying on topic here, again I impress that we are discussing whether Oldman is playing the same characters over and over. I will conclude with stating what was said previously - his characters remain dark and often times of an evil-nature, but that is his niche and what he does well. How can we possibly fault his ability to perform in such roles if it is performed at such a high level? Again, I am not a fan of his movies, but his performances are certainly memorable and first rate.
Well, my gloves will come off long enough to let my knuckles cool off a bit… in the meantime, I hope you enjoyed our most recent blog entry. On behalf of JOHNNY CHAZZ and myself, JER, we want to say THANK YOU so much for helping us reach past 2000 hits on our blog- page! We greatly appreciate the support from our readers and we hope to continue giving you interesting and unique topics to keep you coming for months to come! Tune in next week when it is JOHNNY CHAZZ' turn to deliver his topic of choice, so unitl then, we will always SEE YOU NEXT WEDNESDAY!
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