I’m not sure which is more inconceivable: that Gary Oldman has never been nominated for an Oscar before 2012, or that Oldman finally has been nominated for his first Oscar.
He has been nominated for his captivating performance in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy — in which Oldman plays retired spy George Smiley — after a quarter of a century of acclaimed roles in Sid and Nancy, True Romance, Dracula, and Leon: The Professional went unrecognized. While speaking with Moviefone, Oldman reflects on his excitement about being nominated, what he loves about the George Smiley role, and how he chooses his often offbeat parts.
Oldman says that he was taken by surprise when he heard about his nomination, especially since he hadn’t been nominated for other “preliminary” awards. He says, “I was in Berlin, rather fittingly, and I was giving what I thought would be my last interview about Tinker Tailor, and my manager came in and said I’d been nominated. It wasn’t expected, because we were not there at SAG or the Globes, so I wasn’t holding my breath, but I thought there was a chance. It’s exciting, it’s wonderful.”
Equally pleasing to Oldman is that he was nominated for a role that isn’t characteristic of his earlier, more colorful acclaimed performances. He explains, “It’s a role that’s all subtext, it’s all inside, it’s all going on but you’re not necessarily expressing it. It’s an iconic part, it’s just a wonderful leading role and it’s the sort of role that one, in a career, dreams about. It’s a role that will come along once or twice… So this kind of role — and when I say this kind of role, I usually play extrovert characters — this role is also very quiet, it’s subdued, it requires a different kind of thing, it’s a minimalist performance in that sense. It’s a ‘please don’t ask me to bounce off the walls anymore,’ you know what I mean? I’ve been waiting for it.”
So if Oldman wants to perform in more subdued roles, why does he often accept roles that are a lot more… well, loud? When asked why he chooses the roles he plays, Oldman admits there isn’t an exact science, “It can be many things. It normally is the material and the director. But I can give you a specific example. When I read the script for Dracula, it had a line in it, he said, ‘I’ve crossed oceans of time to find you,’ I wanted to do the movie for that line. I wanted to say that line to someone. I just thought that was an amazing line, and I thought, Who wouldn’t want to say that to someone they loved? And that hooked me.”