When Gary Oldman walked up to receive the Oscar for Best Actor last Sunday, it was a defining moment for an actor who has done splendid work in cinema, and earned him a cult following.
Give Oldman any role and he will do justice to it. He was often the antagonist and was called a ‘psycho deluxe’ once by Empire magazine. But he never restricted himself and did all kinds of roles which tested his prowess as an actor.
His corrupt drug agent in Leon: The Professional has been rated among the best antagonist roles in cinema. He is admired by all his fellow actors and many say he is among the best and they learnt from him.
Here are five films which reveal why Oldman is such a brilliant actor…
State of Grace (1990)
Cast: Sean Penn, Ed Harris, Gary Oldman, Robin Wright, John Turturro
Director: Phil Joanou
Terry (Penn) returns to New York City and meets his aggressive friend Jerry (Oldman) who has got into criminal activities run by his elder brother Frank (Harris). Terry is actually an undercover policeman.
Terry is in love with Kathleen (Wright) but she shows no interest as she has been told he is a killer by Frank who is her brother. Jerry then kills three members of a gang in a bar and is now on the run.
He gets dangerous by the day but Terry wants to save him. But Frank has other ideas. Penn and Oldman are in top gear here.
Leon The Professional
Cast: Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, Natalie Portman, Danny Aiello
Director: Luc Bresson
A professional killer Leon (Reno) is suddenly forced to help a little girl Mathilda (Portman, on debut) when her family is wiped out by a cruel Drug Enforcement Administration agent Norman Stansfield (Oldman).
The killer and the girl form a strange relationship. She shows him there is a life beyond his lonely existence and urges him to show the tricks of his trade so that she take revenge.
Once Stansfield comes to know that the girl had survived the attack, he comes back for her. But Mathilda is well prepared. Oldman is chilling in this film.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)
Cast: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, John Hurt, Toby Jones, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbach
Director: Tomas Alfredson
During the height of the Cold War with Russia, a British intelligence operation in Hungary fails. It is revealed that there is a mole working in the British Intelligence for years who has been revealing secrets.
George Smiley (Oldman) has been forced to retire and is now called back by to solve the case. A tale of espionage unfolds leading to the suspected mole.
Oldman does great justice to a role which required intensity and intelligence.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
Cast: Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins, Keanu Reeves
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Back in 1462, when Count Dracula returns home after a victorious battle, he finds that his wife has committed suicide. He vows revenge as emerges as a vampire.
In 1897, Jonathan Harker (Reeves) goes to meet his client the Count in Transylvania to talk about his properties. The Count, meanwhile, moves to London and falls for Harker’s wife Mina (Ryder) who he thinks is the reincarnation of his wife.
Dracula’s long-time adversary Prof Van Helsing (Hopkins) begins to chase him and after Harker returns. But it is left to Mina to do the final act. Oldman’s Dracula is captivating.
Cast: Kevin Costner, Kevin Bacon, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones, Laurie Metcalf, Sissy Spacek
Director: Oliver Stone
Oldman plays Lee Harvey Oswald in the lead-up and cover-up of the assassination of former President John F Kennedy seen through the eyes of a former District Attorney Jim Garrison (Costner).
Garrison and his team investigate leads which leads to many conspiracy theories and cover-ups. They find multiple discrepancies in the reports about the killing.
Stone was criticised for playing with history but the film did become a big hit.