Gary Oldman had established himself as one of the most versatile actors of his generation by the time the new millennium began. That was largely thanks to his numerous turns as villains, whether it was the bumpkin-esque Lee Harvey Oswald in JFK, the ludicrously twangy corporate space overlord Zorg in The Fifth Element, the unhinged corrupt DEA agent Norman Stansfield in Leon: The Professional, or the captivatingly disgusting pimp Drexl of True Romance.
Even if he was playing ostensible protagonists, they were still morally ambiguous and physically repugnant characters, like the title roles of Dracula and Sid Vicious in Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Sid & Nancy, respectively. You would think that all of that cache would be good enough to secure future baddie roles until the end of time, but evidently, Oldman had a difficult time procuring the leading villain role in 2010 film The Book of Eli due to his lack of antagonistic roles in the years prior. “At one point, they were worried about casting me because of my association with bad guys and pointed out that I had not played one in ten years,” Oldman explained during an interview with the E! television channel.
Oldman is likely referring to his as Mason Verger, the deformed wealthy benefactor who plots revenge against Hannibal Lector in 2001’s Hannibal. In the time since, Oldman had taken roles as Harry Potter’s kindly framed godfather Sirius Black in the Harry Potter films and as noble police captain James Gordon in the rebooted Batman series.
The interviewer then attempts to have Oldman find a connection between some of the leading men he’s performed with, including Christian Bale and Denzel Washington, with Oldman keeping it simple: “They’re all a bit nuts,” he says, cracking up. “I mean that in a nice way.”
Oldman uses the choice words “quirky” and “unique” to describe contemporaries like Bale and the late Heath Ledger. Oldman hypothesises that all actors have these similar qualities due to the nature of their profession: “I guess you must be of a type to kind of want to do it in the first place,” he explained.
Check out the interview clip down below.