STRIPLV0418

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

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“London changes so quickly, and it was a very different place for me growing up there,” he says. “In a way, it’s lost a lot of that raw edge that it had, particularly around where I grew up. I’m not sure that’s such a bad thing, but the transformation has been incredible, and we will never go back to that version of the city,” Oldman says. For Oldman, Hatcham Park Road in SE14 remains, as does the Five Bells pub where his father used to drink. Whether Leonard’s departure from the family set-up, back when Oldman was seven, influenced the future actor’s attitude towards characters and hierarchy is unclear, though he admits to being more comfortable easing into traditional leading man roles. His current profile is that of an elder statesman as opposed to his former status as a renegade actor who inspired many in his wake, Tom Hardy, Ryan Gosling, and Michael Fassbender included. When asked to comment on the legacy he has left for a rising generation of actors, Oldman has been characteristically modest about his influential standing as a latter-day Brando or Dean. “I don’t really look at old work,” Oldman said. “Occasionally there’s a role you played, you didn’t really give it much of a second thought, and then someone says it meant something to them. I saw you in that, and that’s when I wanted to become an actor! I’m always flattered and mystified,” Oldman says. “With the roles that are more emotionally physical, they might be great characters and great scenes to play, but I would always have a cloud over my day. You get to the set; you do makeup, then you’re in the trailer waiting for that knock on the door: They’re ready for you on set, and you get there and hope that the reserves are full - whether you need rage or tears or whatever it is,” Oldman says. STRIPLV: Becoming Winston Churchill, how would you describe that journey? OLDMAN: A joy, and a torture. Equal measure [laughs]. I mean, no, the process was an arduous journey to get into him, finding all those moving pieces and putting him together but when you did, what a joy. What a pure joy! But it’s a joy to me with every role I’ve played; I like to call them my strange friends [laughs]. There’s a climatic resonance after long preparation and a fraught, challenging odyssey you suddenly find yourself standing in front of the mirror, seeing the character looking back at you. And to see Winston looking at me, not just within the magic of cosmetic trickery or posturing, to locate the spirit and breathe life into that and see it with your two eyes is really extraordinary. STRIPLV: Did you go full method? OLDMAN: I don’t go fully to the other side, but I feel like it was Winston Churchill channeling me. Ben Mendelsohn said it’s like there’s this membrane of Winston there all the time. And my wife said to me, which I loved, “I go to sleep with Winston Churchill, and I wake up with Gary.” STRIPLV: When was the moment where you felt like you truly got him? OLDMAN: Somewhere along the way, I can’t quite pinpoint when during the year of preparing myself, but I found Winston. I found his cherubic musicality, somewhere through the research, the transformation, I saw beyond the curmudgeon shuffling round in his slippers, pulling on his pipe, born in a bad mood. I watched footage of him for a year, longer, and I found the childlike light within. I found the sparkle and the twinkle in the eye. The 60-year old man who skipped around like a 20-year-old, a man more than half his age. Skipping around. It’s far from known. Once I found that energy, it never felt like I was trying. A lot of the shooting of the film, I honestly can’t remember, because it became so unconsciously natural to me and freeing. It’s when I could feel him close by, in my blood and DNA. STRIPLV: To turn into Winston, how long would that take each day? OLDMAN: Three hours and 15 minutes, give or take. And then to get into costume, you were looking at four hours in total. And this was 48 consecutive days! Forty-eight consecutive days, getting up at 1:30 a.m. to be ready for the rest of the cast and crew by 6 a.m. Whom I’ll add, never saw me as Gary throughout the entire shoot, just as Winston. STRIPLV: How was that? OLDMAN: Well when we were done by the end of the day, these were 10, 12 hour days, they’d all be done and go home. And I have to stay for an hour behind getting it all taken off. So realistically, it was probably an 18 hour day altogether for two months, and I got a little worried whether I could keep this going because it required a lot of stamina. STRIPLV: What were you wearing to create Winston’s bulk and did you try to put the weight on first? OLDMAN: It was basically a fat suit. (Laughs) There’s not really any other way of describing it, other than a fat suit. And I’ll tell you why I wore a fat suit and didn’t go all De Niro Raging Bull; I’m 60 years old. I’m too old, and not able to pile on 70 pounds or whatever it would take to present Churchill as he was, with the neck and the jowls, it’s not good for your health. Out it whatever way you want, it’s for the realistic intention of the performance. I’m not putting my health at risk. (Laughs) You’re at the age where your liver, your kidneys are vulnerable; they can’t undergo severe stress like that. But Kazuhiro Tsuji was my savior. We’d known each other for 20 odd years when I was supposed to do Planet of the Apes for Tim Burton, but that didn’t happen. But I worked with Kazu on that; I had an ape head made up, I was going to be an ape and his work with me, with Men in Black, with The Nutty Professor; he was the only one who could help me do this. The problem was, he was retired. So it took a lot of flattery and compliments and more flattery and a lot of begging and pleading— lots of pleading— and he eventually came round. STRIPLV: Did you feel like this job and all the makeup et cetera was more than you could chew? OLDMAN: I will tell you honestly, I loved it. I loved every minute. I was gripped by the process, seeing Winston born on my form, it was breath-taking. An hour into the process, I could see glimpses of him staring at me. And I’m going to say, and it may make no sense to an outside observer, but with the fat suit, with the padding, the make-up, the prosthetics, I’ve never felt freer in a character. Isn’t that weird? I find immersing yourself in that guise, very liberating. STRIPLV: Why? OLDMAN: It’s like listening to yourself on a tape recorder; no one likes to hear that. I don’t like to see myself, I’m very used to that, and it pleases me no end to not recognize that form, to not know who I’m looking at. To not know that’s me. It’s a hard one to explain, but I gave my best attempt. Probably all part of why I got into acting in the first place, that love in the theater of transforming into another person. It’s marvelous. I’ve always enjoyed being another character instead of being myself. STRIPLV: Why’s that? OLDMAN: I’ve always had an issue with how my appearance, how I look, my presence. A lot of actors feel the same; it’s why many of us do what we do. STRIPLV: Is there a reason why?

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