By Marlow Stern
Gary Oldman has made a long career out of playing scenery-chewing cranks. An entire generation of young actors, from Ryan Gosling to newcomer Tom Hardy, have said they idolize him for it. But every man has his breaking point. Sick of being cast as the odd man out, the 53-year-old Brit reinvented himself in the last decade with a pair of high-profile good-guy roles, as Sirius Black in the Harry Potter films and Commissioner Gordon in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy.
Now Oldman is earning some of the best reviews of his career as George Smiley in the thriller Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. As a perspicacious spy brought out of retirement to track down a Soviet mole in the Secret Intelligence Service’s most high-ranking sector, Oldman may even best Alec Guinness, who originated the role in the 1979 BBC miniseries. Whispers of an Oscar nomination are inevitable. It would be his first ever—an oversight that Tinker, Tailor costar Colin Firth calls “incomprehensible,” adding, “I think he should be on his seventh win now, at least, and I very much hope this is the time.”
Here, Oldman recalls a few of his most memorable roles.