Gary Oldman on ‘Tinker Tailor’ and ‘The Dark Knight Rises’


It’s rare that we get to talk to Gary Oldman. He’s one of the greats but often appears in roles in Hollywood movies that don’t get him out front on the press junket. He stars in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Oldman had a chance to talk about playing author John le Carré’s recurring character George Smiley, and was happy to talk about his big studio work on The Dark Knight Rises while he was at it.


CraveOnline: Is this prime material for actors since you get to be in each other’s face and it’s all the subtleties and nuances of the dialogue?

Gary Oldman: I just think it’s probably good material. I always say if you break a sweat you’re working too hard. This is not only a good script, but it’s also supported by the book and the paring down of this piece. Obviously we had to throw a lot of pages out. Tomas [Alfredson] has condensed something into, one, a composition, four lines and a look, but you feel that you’ve got the support, the subtext. You bring the book with you everyday. It’s rare.


What makes it so effortless that you don’t have to break a sweat?

Because a script is like your emotional map of the world, and often with bad writing you’re being asked to make sort of jumps and leaps. Lines don’t flow. There’s inconsistency in it and you’re making it work. You’re working very hard to make it work and when you get something that flows it’s like working on Miller or Mamet. You know that you’re supported by it. You’re not fighting it. It takes you.


There are several George Smiley books and they’re already talking about making more movies. Are there any other characters you’ve played that you’d like to revisit?

Well, you see when you go into work in the morning and you know that you’ve got a big, emotional scene and it could be physical, it could be a fight that you have or it could just be you, you get to work and think, “I’ve got to sort of climb that mountain a bit today.” You never know if it’s going to be there. You’re going to call on it and think, “Can I find the rage? Can I find the tears? Can I find what I need to make the scene work?” There are days when it comes easier than others, but what was nice about George is I knew when I got there I wouldn’t be doing any of that. I would just be sitting in a chair and I would listen. I love playing Drexl, but it was a four day shoot or whatever. I wouldn’t wanna, I’ve played so many of those too. I remember doing The Dark Knight and looking at what Heath was doing. It was dazzling. You could tell very early on just how marvelous he was being, and I remember thinking, “Rather you than me.” I was quite happy to be playing Jim Gordon. Maybe it’s age. Maybe you just start to get a little older.


Does ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ feel like an ending, doing the last entry of this incarnation of Batman?

Yeah, yeah. For us I think it’s the end. Whether they will make more, my guess is probably. I mean, they don’t have Potter anymore. So, there could be a Batman 4 a 5. It may be Chris overseeing it in a producorial position, but for us and for Chris I think that’s it. It’s a great way to go out though. It’s a great story. Epic, epic thing it is.


That’s the important thing, that it’s really about the story.

I think Chris strikes me as someone who’s too smart and he’s sort of too classy to just sort of make a third for the sake of making it. I don’t think that’s who he is. I remember way back saying to him, ‘”Is there going to be a third?” He said, “If I can get the story right. I’ve got to outdo myself. I’ve got to do it better than The Dark Knight. I’ve just got to get it right.” He set the bar very high, and so he said, “If I can find a story that interests me I will do it.”  I think also it’s genius that he’s picked Bane as the villain, that he didn’t go with The Riddler or The Penguin. I think right there is a wise choice. 


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