STRIPLV0418

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Striplv Magazine - The Sexiest Magazine on the Planet, Issue 0418

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And now, two decades on, it remains. Except now, there is a renaissance in the air, and at the dining tables of Oscar judges. Rightly so, no one could ever have imagined that Oldman would one day deliver his greatest performance as Winston Churchill, one the most important figures in British history. Sid Vicious as Winnie? Unthinkable. But in Darkest Hour, director Joe Wright’s account of Churchill’s leadership, a riveting account of Churchill’s momentous defense against German forces in WWII, Gary is brilliant in his unrecognizable performance that has critics calling it the greatest depiction of the greatest of British leaders. Oldman’s outlook on life may have changed over the years, but his philosophy is the same: to acquaint audiences with new ideas and different perceptions. In this case, it was usually grumpy, cigar-chomping caricature of Churchill that was to be reimagined. Looking very distinguished and chic in a dark suit and black-rimmed glasses, his hair and goatee flecked with gray, Oldman is in high spirits. Turning 60 this past March, the former renegade actor and bad boy of British cinema has scored the greatest triumph of his lauded career. He was touted to win the Oscar as far back as September when Darkest Hour first premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, and ever since it seems as if he’s been on a well-earned victory tour in support of the film. Today he’s full of humility, while his accent and appearance offer a curious blend of a comfortable, luxurious life that was constructed on the gritty, ruthless, unforgiving concrete of 1960s south-east London. Ironically, Oldman almost balked at the prospect of playing Churchill, a man who will forever be inscribed in the popular imagination as a fabled orator, statesman, and politician. Deliberating over the role – and not just because of the grueling four-hour makeup and costume process that was undertaken for 48 consecutive days— Oldman had to reach into reserves of courage not plumbed for several decades. Certainly, Oldman ranks at the top of his profession in terms of his chameleonic capacity to utterly transform and otherwise immerse himself into a wide range of screen selves. Once he decided to distance himself from his rogue’s gallery of renegades and evildoers (perhaps most notably his sniveling Lee Harvey Oswald in JFK), the working-class actor has succeeded in rebranding himself over the course of the last two decades by playing good guys. Younger audiences are far more aware of Oldman as Commissioner Gordon in the Dark Knight trilogy, the fugitive Sirius Black in the Harry Potter films, and, most recently, as master spy George Smiley in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Last August he married his fifth wife, Gisele Schmidt, an art curator, and at this point in his life, he appears to be eager to fully exploit this renaissance period in which he finds himself. Sitting opposite Gary there is a brutal honesty in his eyes. You can sense an inner calm as well as a burning desire for artistic accomplishment. And yet, through all that, small fragments of insecurities remain. In 2018, he intends to direct his second film. It’s been over two decades since his debut project the turbulent 1997 family drama Nil by Mouth, a semi-autobiographical account of Oldman’s working-class upbringing and life with a brutal, alcoholic father. Born in New Cross, his father Leonard was a former sailor who worked as a welder. His mother Kathleen, who ran a boarding house for youngsters coming through the ranks at Millwall Football Club, supported the aspiring actor and sister Laila Morse – best known for her portrayal of Mo Harris in “EastEnders” – until he got his first job, in a sports shop, at the age of 16.

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