One of cinema’s most decorated contemporary actors, Gary Oldman has been involved in everything from Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy to David Fincher’s 2020 Oscar contender Mank. Certainly not an individual to shy away from a challenging role, Oldman constantly pushes himself with alternative roles and characters which expand his range, being rewarded in 2018 with a ‘Best Actor’ Oscar for his prosthetic-laden depiction of Winston Churchill. Though despite his great success, it is perhaps inevitable that some significant roles would slip through his fingers throughout his near 40-year career.
Speaking to interviewer Larry King in 2016, the actor revealed that “they were interested in me many years ago for Edward Scissorhands”, but Oldman turned it down commenting that “he didn’t get it at all”. In the interview Oldman sounds audibly baffled by the film’s bizarre plot, adding: “I read the script and I went ‘pfff’, it’s ridiculous, its a castle at the end of this road, then an Avon lady comes round selling makeup, and this kids got scissors for hands”.
Tim Burton’s 1990 gothic tale may well be his very best, ultimately starring Johnny Depp in the lead role as ‘Edward Scissorhands’, a sympathetic Frankenstein’s monster who lives in a bleak mansion with scissors for hands. The look was created by Stan Winston, who would later go on to design ‘the Penguin’s’ prosthetic in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns, taking the special effect designer 45 minutes to apply Depp’s makeup.
Performed with Charlie Chaplin’s speechless charm in mind, Johnny Depp was enthralled by the character, “weeping like a newborn baby” as he read through the film’s script. It spoke to Depp’s own emotional connection to the stories’ themes of self-discovery and isolation, recalling Burton’s expanding filmography including The Nightmare Before Christmas and Frankenweenie. Though, as Tim Burton explains of the film’s themes of suburban discrimination, it’s “not a bad place. It’s a weird place. I tried to walk the fine line of making it funny and strange without it being judgmental. It’s a place where there’s a lot of integrity”.
When Gary Oldman eventually got round to watching the film, the actor recalled that “as the camera pans across these multicoloured houses in this suburban neighbourhood and then you see the Dracula castle on the hill. Literally, two minutes in I went ‘yeah I get it’. I just got it too late”.
Even a seasoned professional like Gary Oldman can let a golden opportunity get away from him, though let’s be honest Edward Scissorhands was the making of both Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. We wouldn’t have wanted it any other way…