Gary Oldman has played many things: punk, wizard, vampire, megalomaniac, dirty cop, good cop, spy. But he has never, until today, faced the ultimate challenge: taking the questions of Empire readers in webchat form. Read on to find out more about his stellar career to date, his preferred sandwich and all the other vital facts that other interviewers are too scared to ask...
Ichabod Wolf says: Mr Oldman, you are renowned for your chameleonic ability to inhabit most any kind of role; do you find it difficult to enter and exit character?
No. Once I take the clothes and the make-up off at the end of the day, I don't take the work home.
lydia369 says: Gary, praise is being heaped on you for your latest role in TTSS, but how much of a challenge did you personally find it?
Well, the ghost of Guinness was very much there, so that was the fire I had to walk through. He had popularised the role and it was very much an interpretation of something that was very much beloved, so they were big shoes to step into. So if I had any reservations, that was it.
HaydonsMovies says: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy features the cream of the British acting talent and a wide variety of ages. What were you feelings upon accepting the role of George Smiley and to be working alongside such an array of brilliant actors?
Well, actors were cast over a period of time, so not all the cast was assembled when I came on board. But I knew that Colin [Firth] was involved, so it was an opportunity to work with him.
Welsh_Evs says: State of Grace is one of my all time favourite films and Frankie Flannery one of your best performances. Was it a ‘hell-raising’ time on set with Sean Penn and did you both actually run through that fire in one scene?
I have fond memories of making that movie and am very proud of it. You have to remember that this was in the days before Sean Penn had directed, and he's calmed down and mellowed with age, I believe. Sean, being a Method actor, of course wanted to run through the fire, so I had to follow. It's crazy now, thinking about it, what we did.
Todge says: Nil By Mouth is obviously a very personal film, having written and directed it, did you gain a measure of distance from the real-life events?
I think you need a distance to write it and make it in the first place. I think that process had already taken place.
Incepted says: What attracted you to playing Smiley in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy?
Beethoven was a wig part. Sid Vicious was a jumping around part. George is a sitting-down part.
Over the years, I have been asked to play these sort of scary frenetic characters that express their emotions physically. George was a great opportuniy to play a character who has a sort of lid on his emotions. It's a sitting down part. You know, Beethoven: it's a wig part. Sid Vicious: it's a jumping around part. George is a sitting down part.
StarryKat says: Gary, you always look very dapper. Are you interested in fashion?
Yeah, somewhat interested. I don't watch reality TV, but I do watch Project Runway because it's less about being bitchy about one another and more about creativity at the end of the day.
Quizzlestick says: Hello there Gary! What has been your favourite piece of filmic facial fuzz so far? The Jim Gordon moustache? The Zorg bottom lip welcome mat? Or do you ultimately prefer the Smiley clean shaven look when you're acting?
I've never heard it called a 'welcome mat' before! I called it a 'Pip'. I don't know why. Given the choice, I would rather not wear wigs and facial hair, but I have the moustache now for Jim Gordon.
KarenKKremes says: What scene did you like most to do in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy?
I think it's a very powerful scene at the end with Colin Firth. There's a good chemistry between Colin and I, I think. I wish we'd had a bit more together.
snowbaby says: Gary, seems like you have a keen interest in photography. Any favorite photographers (contemporary and/or past)?
Yes I do: Roy DeCarava. I like taking pictures. Paul Smith is having a little exhibition on Albemarle Street, opening on Friday, and they're using some of my black and white WideLux (panoramic) shots I took behind the scenes.
ronnie says: Your directorial effort was well received. Any plans to direct in the near future?
I have plans, yes, to do something within the next couple of years probably. I'm reworking something that I first wrote in 1997.
Big_Pants says: Have you and Christopher Nolan discussed working together in the future after the Batman series is done?
No discussions - and he's very secretive too. I really don't know what Chris is up to.
flanimal says: How was your time at Rose Bruford, and how much does what you gleaned at drama school inform the work you do now?
I think drama schools are much of a muchness; you take what is good, you disregard what isn't. The thing a drama school can't give you is instinct. It can sharpen instinct but that can't be taught, and you have to have intuition. It's an essential ingredient.
nicksgr8 says: Given the what will be the inevitable success of Tinker Tailor, would you consider returning to the role of Smiley? Say in The Honourable Schoolboy and Smiley's People?
Absolutely. I would hope that Peter Straughan will write the screenplay and Tomas Alfredson would return as the director, but I would love to revise the role. I would think that they may put those two together. I don't think they would make The Honourable Schoolboy on its own. My guess would be that it would be a composite, an amalgamation of the two, and they would call it Smiley's People.
mike says: What can we expect from Commissioner Gordon in The Dark Knight Rises? Has he changed in any way? And what can you tell us about the new film?
I'm sworn to secrecy. Nice try.
Edgar says: One of your most impressive and memorable roles was Stansfield in Leon. There was a lot of talk about a sequel. What's your take on that? Seeing Mathilda as a grown up?
We've seen Mathilda as a grown-up; she won an Oscar last year. If there's a sequel I won't be in it; I was blown to pieces. And I'm still waiting to be paid for the original (laughs)
papwortl says: Could you talk about Ray Winstone’s performance in Nil By Mouth? It’s astonishing, right?
risey says: Daniel Radcliffe is known to be an avid fan of yours - what do you think of HIS work?
I think Dan has developed into a really terrific young actor. I mean, who would have known that he would have had the chops to go the distance, with ten years of Harry Potter? Kudos to Chris Columbus who cast him. He's often someone who gets left out: they talk about Mike Newell and Alfonso Cuarón, but we forget that the world was created by Chris Columbus. Alfonso Cuarón put it brilliantly; he said: "Chris built the kitchen and I then just came in and cooked up my dish" - but it was Chris that designed the kitchen.
gjtache says: My nine year-old daughter Anna is leaning over my shoulder asking that I please tell you she loved you in the Harry Potter series and she would like to know how much fun it was working with the cast/crew...
It was a wonderful time working with them; I got very close to all three of them and particularly Dan. They were great kids and now they're great adults. Lovely experience, like a family.
Barry Goldman says: Slightly out there, this one but... what are Stansfield’s pills in Leon? And where can I get some?
Just say no.
lydia369 says: Do you have any other upcoming projects besides The Dark Knight Rises?
No, I am writing something at the moment, but technically I am out of work after TDKR. But that's not unusual; I've spent the last 30 years not knowing what I'm doing next. We hope something comes in.
AgentMcQueen says: What does Gary Oldman do to chill out?
I listen to music, I play music - guitar, piano. That's what I do.
Welsh_Evs says: What’s your favourite sandwich Gary...are you partial to an egg roll like Drexl in True Romance?
I like a cheese and pickle. Nice cheese and pickle on a real old-fashioned bread. Ploughman's lunch.
ambition says: Are you a cinephile yourself? What kind of films do you like to watch, and are they similar or different to the films you like to star in?
Many of them are different to the films that I'm in and they're too numerous to mention. I have such a wide-ranging taste. It's anything from Pixar to Pasolini.
michelle94 says: If YOU went back to Hogwarts, what house would the sorting hat place you in?
I'd be in Gryffindor.
Eli says: Have you seen Tomas Alfredson's superb Let The Right One In? Do you think Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy will be even better and if so, why?
I have seen Let The Right One In. Will it be better? It will be very different.
kirk says: How do you feel about films like Lost in Space?... one of your lesser known films....(not that you were bad in it...anyone playing a spider thingy in space needs a medal)
I think the first hour of the movie is actually not bad. But it gets a bit lost, no pun intended.
JC says: You seem to have a real knack for accents - regional British, regional US, Russian, Transylvanian - so how do you go about nailing a particular dialect?
Well, I have a facility for them, I'm blessed with a good ear. And I occasionally work with a coach.
Barry Goldman says: What British turn of phrase do American most often not "get" when you say it in their presence?
The word that they don't get is "butter". You have to say "budder". If you go to a store and ask for butter, they get confused.
Neil the Hawk says: What was it like being able to punch Harrison Ford in Air Force One?
Are you kidding? You get to go home and say "I punched Indiana Jones today".