if any, character actors have had the diversity and range that Gary
Oldman demonstrated during the 1990s. There’s an unwritten law of fame
and achievement that the media and public will try to bring down those
who’ve pulled themselves up, but that was going to be hard with this
talented Brit. Sure, there are many objections that can be put forward
in trying to diminish his talent; He never got around to excelling in
particularly many leading roles, he had a tendency to choose roles in
which he could show off some extravaganza, and he might not have
maintained his impressive level over the last few years. Still, what Gary
Oldman obtained during his heyday is difficult, if not impossible to
equal. Today, talented character actors like Philip Seymour Hoffman and
Paul Giamatti have taken Oldman’s place as the hottest young character
performers around, but their challenge is not meagre in trying to reach
the level of this Brit's finest performances. To date, none of them
Oldman made a name for himself in a number of British productions during the 80s, notably films like Sid and Nancy, Prick Up Your Ears and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. He showed unprecedented promise early on, but it wasn’t until he entered high-profile character roles in the early 90s that he seriously came into his own. For a period of 6-7 years, Oldman was in a position to elevate almost any which film he agreed to do. A lot of these were films of high quality, but even if they weren’t, Oldman’s presence would ensure that they would be. In the mafia character play State of Grace (1990), he impressed opposite the likes of Sean Penn and Ed Harris, before he brought Lee Harvey Oswald to screen more vividly than most could have in Oliver Stone’s biopic JFK. Then between 1992 and 1994, Oldman gave a series of distinctive, explosive and completely breathtaking performances that only Marlon Brando of the 50s can compete with. Oldman's seductive and chameleonic Dracula was equalled by the closest a white Brit can ever come to personify a "black" Jamaican in True Romance before he impressed as Ludwig Van Beethoven in Immortal Beloved. Then the actor was massive in Romeo Is Bleeding before turning in one of the best bad guy roles in the history of cinema in Luc Besson's magnificent Léon.
the end of the 90s, Oldman was no longer as prolific nor as innovative
as before, but no actor could really expect to be. He continued to
divide his time between large Hollywood-productions and smaller
independent films. A testament to Oldman's talent is that he was
nomintated for the Golden Palm in Cannes for the highly personal Nil
the one and only film he has done from behind the camera. That the
Academy has never acknowledged his work is more a sign of their
incompetence than anything else. During the last few years, Oldman has
accepted roles in high-profile film-series such as Harry
Potter and Batman
elevating them both and being particularly impressive as Jim Gordon in
Sid and Nancy (1986)
"At the core of the film are two remarkable performances, by Oldman and Webb, who don't seem to be performing at all: they are Sid and Nancy." - Leonard Maltin
Prick Up Your Ears (1987)
"Stunning performances by Oldman (...)" - Leonard Maltin
"Gary Oldman plays Orton and Alfred Molina plays
Halliwell, and these are two of the best performances of 1987. Oldman
you may remember as Sid Vicious, the punk rock star in SID AND NANCY. There is no point of similarity between the two performances; like a few gifted actors, he is able to re-invent himself for every role. On the basis of these two movies, he is the best young British actor around."
State of Grace (1990)
"Gary Oldman's performance in the movie is the best thing about it." -
True Romance (1993)
"Oldman, as a drug dealer in dreadlocks, is a standout in the uniformly first-rate ensemble"
- Leonard Maltin
Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)
Dracula (Oldman) to Harker (Keanu Reeves) "They say you are a man of good... taste"
Mason Verger (Oldman) "He said: Would you like a popper? And I said: Would I? Wow!"