Americans love a comeback story, and Gary Oldman has already had two. Now considered one of the greatest actors of his generation, Oldman’s star has waned several times, caused by lackluster roles, personal issues and public quotes. But Oldman has come back with perseverance, tenacity, hard work and – above all – irrefutable talent. His first role (playing Sid Vicious in Sid and Nancy) came in 1986, but his greatest run of roles has been in the last decade and a half. His third Oscar nomination is this year for Mank. And for the last 15 year he’s worn slightly tinted lenses in his on-camera interviews. It might be for self-defense, but it’s a damn good look that may have unintentionally started the trend so prevalent now.
Oldman’s early and mid-career saw him play some of the screen’s most intense and memorable bad guys. He played Lee Harvey Oswald in Oliver Stone’s JFK, Count Dracula in Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and the psychotic pimp Drexl Spivey in Tony Scott and Quentin Tarantino’s True Romance. No fashion fan can forget his turn as Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg in Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element, for which Jean-Paul Gaultier did all costume designs. Luc Besson had also directed Oldman in Leon: The Professional, where he played corrupt cop Norman Stansfield – a character that is widely considered to be one of the best villains in movie history. The 90’s were good to Bad Oldman, but in the early 2000’s he was on the outs with Hollywood.
But Hollywood loves a comeback, and starting with his scene stealing role as Commissioner Gordon in Christopher Nolan’s The Batman Trilogy Oldman has garnered accolades and commercial success like few of his peers. In that role, as well as his Oscar nominated turn as George Smiley in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and his Oscar winning role as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour, Oldman’s stellar eyewear contributed to inhabiting the characters. Off screen, he’s rarely seen without his signature acetate frames that usually feature that oh-so-slight tint. The intensely private actor prefers to keep a low profile, but it’s unclear if the shades actually help keep him out of the spotlight between films. If Oldman isn’t your favorite actor, he is certainly your favorite actor’s favorite actor – nearly all of Hollywood’s A-list site him as one of the greats or their personal acting hero.