"There was one actor I worked with who used to burn his leg with cigarettes. I can’t name names. Well, let’s just call him Sean Penn."
Gary Oldman is one of the great talents of modern cinema. Following his breakthrough role in 1986's Sid And Nancy, he has been outstanding playing characters such as Lee Harvey Oswald in JFK and Beethoven in Immortal Beloved but has never been nominated for an Oscar. Now 50, he reprises his role as Lieutenant Jim Gordon in Batman: The Dark Knight.
There’s nothing dark about your role in Dark Knight. Is that deliberate?
Yeah. I’ve wanted to get away from playing the dark guys. I’ve played a bunch of those loonies in my time. I came on to the scene with Sid And Nancy and, over the years, the career has become narrower and narrower because people have a lack of imagination. They don’t have as much imagination as Chris Nolan [The Dark Knight’s British director]. I wanted to turn the ship around so I’ve been doing Harry Potter and I just did A Christmas Carol. In Dark Knight, my character is the moral centre of this whole piece.
Heath Ledger is fantastic as The Joker. Is that the sort of role you’d even consider now?
Maybe a couple of years ago, when I was younger, they might have knocked on my door to play The Joker. I don’t think I would have played it as well as Heath. I remember the first day I worked with him, we knew he had discovered something that was just sort of exceptional. It was just so special.
Are people just saying that because he’s dead?
No. There are actors whose careers fly along at sort of subsonic speed and then you’ll get Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Al Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon or even Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet. Actors who just go through the sound barrier. Heath did that. This is one of the scariest screen villains I’ve ever seen. Intense as Heath was, I remember sitting down on the kerb with him in the street and he was having a laugh, smoking a cigarette, talking about his daughter, Matilda. Sadly, he’s probably looking down, going: ‘I’m going to get nominated for an Oscar.’
You’re also known for being pretty intense.
But I’m not a method actor. Someone said I’m known for disappearing into my parts. I said: ‘No, I’m not. It’s just a trick to make you think I’m doing that. It’s an illusion.’ It’s called acting and I have a facility for it. Luckily, I chose to do it and didn’t go into something else, like banking.
You’ve said you had a hard time on the set avoiding the giggles. What do you think about to stay serious?
There’s lots of things you think about – but I was bad for that. It got to the point where I’d arrive on set, walk up to Aaron Eckhart to say ‘Good morning’ and he’d say ‘Get away from me’ and start laughing. I hadn’t done anything. He’d say: ‘Stop that.’ I’d go: ‘Stop what?’ It was a great set but sometimes we had to pull ourselves together. I’d be doing a serious scene, thinking: ‘Don’t laugh.’
What do you do? Pinch yourself?
Sometimes. There was one actor I worked with who used to burn his leg with cigarettes.
I can’t name names. Well, let’s just call him Sean Penn. [The pair worked together in 1990’s State Of Grace.]
Is it true that, having made three Harry Potter films, you’ve become a mentor to Daniel Radcliffe?
I seem to have, yeah.
Did you see him in Equus?
No – but he was great in Extras.
What are you up to next?
I’m going to Barbados on holiday.
To spend the Batman money?
Well, I certainly ‘felt’ the money involved in that film but I don’t mean like money in my bank account. I mean, you really ‘feel’ the size of the movie. You feel you’ve got a chance to come in and do your work. In the old days, people used to make movies in 40, 50, even 70 days. Now, increasingly, they make them in 19 or 20 days and that affects everyone. On a movie like Dark Knight, they had room in the schedule to let you work. There wasn’t that sense of panic you get on an indie film.
Dad left baby in car to watch Batman
A DAD was booked into jail under suspicion of second-degree child abuse after leaving his son in his car while he watched the midnight showing of "The Dark Knight."
David Farnham, 23, of Salt Lake City left his 2-year-old son inside his car in the parking lot of the Century 16 Theaters on Saturday night.
An onlooker walking by the car at 1:22 a.m. on Sunday saw the baby inside the vehicle crying and sweating profusely, said detective Gary Keller with the South Salt Lake City Police Department.
Farnham rolled the windows up in the car "so the child could not be taken out," according to a jail booking statement. The temperature inside the vehicle was 87 degrees, the statement added.
Farnham was located inside of the theater and the boy was taken out of the car. The boy was thirsty, but otherwise in good condition, Keller said.
The boy has since been released to his mother. Farnham was booked into the Salt Lake County Metro Jail where he is being held without bail.
The case has been turned over for screening at the District Attorney's Office.
Update: added mugshot.