Birth Name: Leonard Gary Oldman
Age: 55, born 21 March 1958
Country of origin: United Kingdom
Currently Residing In: United States
Height: 5' 9"
Relationship Status: Married
Partner: Alexandra Edenborough
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About: Almost from the start of his career, Gary Oldman displayed an edgy intensity that brought verve to his portrayals of ambiguous and obsessive personalities. Equally at home as either heroes or villains (although his resume boasted far more of the latter), this lean, wiry actor from South London gained a well-earned reputation as a brilliant chameleon. Decidedly private about his personal life, Oldman was briefly married to actress Uma Thurman, whom he had met during the shooting of “Henry and J Almost from the start of his career, Gary Oldman displayed an edgy intensity that brought verve to his portrayals of ambiguous and obsessive personalities. Equally at home as either heroes or villains (although his resume boasted far more of the latter), this lean, wiry actor from South London gained a well-earned reputation as a brilliant chameleon. Decidedly private about his personal life, Oldman was briefly married to actress Uma Thurman, whom he had met during the shooting of “Henry and June” (1990). Despite a twelve-year age difference, the two stars wed soon after the film, but their union would last just two years. An acknowledged inspiration to such young up-and- comers as Bo Barrett, Ryan Gosling and Shia LaBeouf, Oldman’s status as an elder statesman seemed assured. But despite his high standing among fellow actors and scores of critically acclaimed roles under his belt, Oldman had yet to be nominated for an Academy Award – a shame given his stature as one of the most gifted actors of his generation.
The son of a welder and a housewife, Leonard Gary Oldman was born on Mar. 21, 1958 in New Cross, London, England. An academically indifferent student, Oldman dropped out of school at 16 and found a job as a store clerk. He soon discovered his métier on stage, becoming active in the Young People's Theater in Greenwich, England. He later won a scholarship to attend the Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama in Kent. Graduating in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in theater arts, Oldman quickly found regular gigs on stage. Oldman’s hard work and trademark intensity made him a favorite in Glasgow in the mid 1980s, culminating in the lead role in Edward Bond’s socially-conscious drama, “The Pope’s Wedding.” A huge hit with critics, the play earned Oldman’s two of the British stage’s top honors: the Time Out's Fringe Award for Best Newcomer of 1985-86 and the British Theatre Association's Drama Magazine Award as Best Actor of 1985.
Segueing into television in the mid-to-late 1980s, Oldman brought some of his famous intensity to his small screen roles. An early example was evidenced in one of Oldman’s first screen performances as an explosive skinhead in director Mike Leigh's telefilm "Meantime" (BBC, 1983). Oldman later consolidated his wild man persona with two very different, yet similarly doomed iconoclastic figures from English culture: punk rock legend Sid Vicious in the poignant and uncompromising cult classic "Sid and Nancy" (1986), and later the irreverent gay playwright Joe Orton in the finely tuned biopic "Prick up Your Ears" (1987). Though excellent in both roles, Oldman was more remembered for his turn as Vicious, portraying the heroin-addicted bassist in frighteningly accurate fashion. Meanwhile, Oldman continued his exploration of human darkness, traveling to North Carolina to play the mysterious long-lost son of Theresa Russell in Nicolas Roeg's bizarre psychological drama "Track 29" (1987).
In the United States, Oldman displayed his remarkable talent for mimicking American accents and myriad regional dialects. The fruits of his labor resulted in Oldman giving convincing performances as a coldhearted big-city attorney in "Criminal Law" (1988), a down-home Southern fried mental institution inmate in "Chattahoochee" (1990) and an Irish-American gangster in "State of Grace" (1990). But it was his dead-on impersonation of assassin Lee Harvey Oswald in Oliver Stone's "JFK" (1991) that truly cemented his status as a human chameleon – few were able to distinguish the actor’s characterization from the stock footage of the real Oswald. Based on the strength of his performance in “JFK,” director Francis Ford Coppola offered him the lead in “Bran Stoker’s Dracula” (1992). As the titular bloodsucker, Oldman proved equally compelling in various incarnations – as a wizened old man, a dapper aristocrat and a snarling monster – standing out amid the lavish makeup and visually sumptuous costumes and sets. Oldman was predictably electrifying in his next outing, playing ruthless wannabe Rastafarian pimp Drexl Spivy in the Quentin Tarantino-scripted "True Romance" (1993). Though Oldman was onscreen for only a few minutes, his dominating performance echoed throughout the rest of the movie.
Like many actors, Oldman had his share of demons to battle – in his case, alcohol. Oldman’s off-screen binges led to occasional brushes with the law, including a 1991 arrest for driving under the influence. After he completed "The Scarlet Letter" (1995), Oldman checked into rehab and underwent treatment. Once sober, he returned to Hollywood to reactivate his career and raise money for “Nil By Mouth” (1997), a dream project he wanted to write and direct. Meanwhile, Oldman was seen in varying degrees of success, making villainous turns in "The Fifth Element" (1997), "Air Force One" (1997) and "Lost in Space" (1998). Finally, he managed to raise enough dough – thanks to an assist from “Fifth Element” director Luc Besson – and was able to make “Nil By Mouth,” a blistering semiautobiographical examination of a working-class family torn apart by alcoholism. From its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, where it picked up the Best Actress trophy for Kathy Burke (as the abused wife), to its 1998 theatrical release, the film earned substantial critical praise for its unflinching writing, assured direction and stunning performances.
Oldman next lent his vocal talents to the animated feature "The Quest for Camelot" (1998), then made a rare excursion into television to play Pontius Pilate in the CBS miniseries "Jesus” (1999-2000). Later in 2000, he was back on the big screen as a conservative U.S. senator attempting to block the appointment of a female colleague as the first woman vice president in "The Contender," written and directed by Rod Lurie. The timely material – which included a sex scandal and pointed references to embattled U.S. president Bill Clinton – marked the actor's first time as an executive producer. Rumors of a tension-filled the set were rampant prior to the film's release and disputes between Oldman and Lurie soon became fodder for public consumption. Not one to suffer fools, Oldman expressed his unhappiness with his character’s depiction as the villain. While his arguments with Lurie and the film's distributor DreamWorks played out in the press, “The Contender” failed to make its mark with audiences.
Oldman found himself in another situation with his prominent follow-up role as the exorbitantly wealthy, but hideously disfigured Mason Verger in "Hannibal" (2001). Some reported that the actor originally wanted screen credit. But when he was relegated to third billing, he allegedly opted to take no credit at all. Other articles claimed that he did not want to be identified for the sake of surprise, since the character required prosthetics that would render whoever played the role unrecognizable. Producer Dino De Laurentiis clearly stated at a press conference, however, that Oldman was indeed playing the role, pointing out that an actor of that stature deserved to be recognized for his contribution to the film.
Although he spent much of his career playing psychotics and sadistic characters, Oldman underwent a career makeover in the mid-2000s similar to that of Sir Ian McKellan. Eschewing his more typical adult-oriented fair, Oldman accepted a string of roles that played to younger audiences. Among his likeable, more sympathetic characters was Sirius Black, a recurring character in the “Harry Potter” series. First introduced in “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” (2004), Oldman reprised his role for its two subsequent sequels, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” (2005) and “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” (2007). Around the same period, Oldman delighted comic book fan boys around the world by taking the role of Gotham City Police Lieutenant (and later Commissioner) Jim Gordon in “Batman Begins” (2005), a re-boot of the lucrative Batman film franchise. Oldman later reprised the role in “The Dark Knight” (2008).
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