Gary Oldman on Why He Does Smaller Roles in Blockbusters: “Really good leading roles are few and far between”


Gary Oldman is one of those actors who can draw me to a movie just because his name is on the poster. While unfortunately that sometimes leads me to go to screenings for movies like Paranoia, most of the time it pays off because Oldman is a great actor. However, it is clear that Oldman has increasingly taken supporting roles in big-budget projects, particularly after he appeared in several Harry Potter movies and Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.

In fact, in 2014 you won’t see Oldman at the arthouse cinema but in multiplexes in RoboCop and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. He spoke to The Independent about this recent career change but also explains why he turned down a role in Thor.

Oldman admits that he’s taken on more supporting roles in blockbuster films while he waits for a lead role with substance. He explains, “Really good leading roles are few and far between. Alan Bennett isn’t writing Prick Up Your Ears every year so there’s a quality of writing that doesn’t exist any more. I think the times are changing and you just have to cope and change with the times. A role like Smiley in Tinker Tailor doesn’t come along very often, and it’s also to do with the stories that people are telling. Plus, there’s a whole new generation of actors. I’m over 50 now and Smiley was in his 50s, but I don’t want to be playing Thor’s dad just yet.”

In fact, Oldman reveals he actually was approached to play Odin in the Thor movies (the role was eventually taken by Anthony Hopkins). He recalls, “They asked me to do that one and I said ‘No, I’m far too young for that.’ I wasn’t going to run around with the grey beard going [Odin voice] ‘Son, you will be cursed.’ I’m still a bit too sprightly for that stuff.”

Of course, the money also makes blockbuster films worth it because it allows him more time to spend time with his three children. He says, “All these roles have been deliberate in so far as you can earn more on a Potter and a Batman movie than you can let’s say on an independent. You’d have to do five movies in a year as opposed to just going away once, earning enough money to live comfortably and cover school fees. So I could do a Harry Potter for two months and then fly back and spend the rest of the year at home. I can be involved and take the kids to school and pick them up. In that sense, it’s deliberate but it’s also lucky because I never even chased Harry Potter.”

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