Capturing the ‘spark’ of Britain’s greatest icon
Let’s be clear: That aged, portly man with a bulbous nose, drooping jowls and a hairline in full retreat you see onscreen throughout “Darkest Hour” is, indeed, Gary Oldman. Yes, really; even though he’s unrecognizable.
For Oldman, who rocketed to fame playing young hellions (the Sex Pistols’ crass punk bassist in 1986’s “Sid & Nancy” and outrageous English playwright Joe Orton in “Prick Up Your Ears” the following year), the role represents a sea change. In director Joe Wright’s wartime biopic, he portrays the most recognized, revered and important Englishman of the 20th century, Winston Churchill, in a performance already generating considerable Oscar buzz.
In a recent phone call he discussed the technical challenges that required him to spend 200 hours in the makeup chair, and his work to capture the great man’s inner substance for the film.
While playing Churchill offered an important character and a great acting challenge, when he was first approached about the role, Oldman laughed out loud and said, “Please don’t ever bring this role to me again.”
Kristin Scott Thomas and Gary Oldman star in “Darkest Hour.” Oldman plays British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.