Gary Oldman is one of the most revered acting talents of his generation, known for his iconic performances in cult classics like Sid and Nancy as well as extremely popular productions such as Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy. Despite all his great work, there are also some missteps in Oldman’s illustrious filmography.
In recent years, Oldman has continued to make fine additions to his legacy in the form of films such as David Fincher’s Mank as well as the Apple+ series Slow Horses. The actor is also looking to continue his filmmaking work by directing a biopic about Eadweard Muybridge, the pioneer who studied motion through photography.
Oldman’s body of work continues to serve as a source of inspiration for aspiring artists but there are some films that stand out as truly bizarre projects. One of them is undoubtedly the 2003 Matthew Bright film Tiptoes which Bright came up with when he was 18, wanting to make “a raucous comedy about little people fucking each other”.
Intended as a rom-com, Tiptoes starred Matthew McConaughey as Stephen who ends up impregnating a painter named Carol (played by Kate Beckinsale). When Stephen discovers that Carol has his child inside her, he is forced to tell her the truth about how most of his family members actually have dwarfism.
Gary Oldman played the role of Stephen’s twin brother Rolfe, a little person who teaches Carol all about his condition. While Oldman received some acclaim for his portrayal of an individual with dwarfism, many found the entire film to be extremely insensitive and offensive due to its controversial casting choice.
“He was on his knees,” Kate Beckinsale explained later to MTV while talking about Oldman’s visual appearance as a little person. “He was basically on his knees with a prosthetic part of his head and face and a hump and different kinds of harnesses to strap his arms back to make them short, and special clothes.”
Beckinsale reportedly joined the production because she was allowed to wear her lucky hat during the filming. While talking about the effects, she added: “They had various different effects, like if he was sitting in a chair, his legs would actually be inside the chair and he’d have these little fake legs sticking out on top. It was amazing what they did with him.”
Peter Dinklage also starred in the film as Rolfe’s best friend. In a later interview, he reflected on the bizarre project: “There was some flak. Why would you put Gary Oldman on his knees? That’s almost like blackface.’ And I have my own opinions about political correctness, but I was just like, ‘It’s Gary Oldman. He can do whatever he wants.'”
Tiptoes marked the final directorial project of Bright who expressed a lot of disappointment about the producer’s cut which apparently took away a lot from the film. Even Dinklage expressed his admiration for the director’s cut and called it “gorgeous”. To this day, Bright has held onto the hope that his version of Tiptoes will be exposed to the world one day.