Gary Oldman together with Ceasar, the leader of the apes, who is played by Andy Serkis. :: E. C.
It was 25 years ago when a Londoner called Gary Oldman put himself in the shoes of Sid Vicious, the Sex Pistols bassist, to perform in the film ‘Sid and Nancy’. This was the start of Oldman’s successful career as a fearless, tenacious and distinct actor who has been described as one of the greatest of all time. Now aged 56, he stars in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, a film that continues the story of the genetically modified apes, led by Caesar, who threaten to wipe out the human race.
A few weeks ago, Oldman became the focus of controversy when he defended Mel Gibson who, nine years ago, insulted a police officer who arrested him after drink driving. Gibson said that Jews are “responsible for all of the world’s wars.” Oldman excused him and stated that Gibson lives in a city “run by Jews and he bit the hand that fed him.”
-What do you remember of the first Planet of the Apes?
–I can’t imagine my childhood without thinking about this film. I was nine or ten when it came out and I was crazy for it. When I had the chance to be part of it I couldn’t say no, in spite of my initial doubts.
-How was it working with Andy Serkis, who plays Caesar, the leader of the apes?
-Andy had his own dressing room. At least I could see his face, his eyes and his emotions. If he wore a mask it would have been much harder for me to act.
-If you’re playing a character that you have already portrayed, as happened with Sid Vicious or Dracula, do you try and avoid repeating your performance?
-When you play icons from an era such as these two, there is so much other material that it is easy to create your own version. In the case of ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’ my only access to the character was in the book by John le Carré. In ‘Planet of the Apes’, it is different because my character is new. We haven’t made a copy of the previous film, but a new version.
-What do you miss about England?
-Irony and good taste. In Los Angeles it seems like everyone is wearing a uniform. When I go to Europe I remember how well people dress. They wear shoes in stead of espadrilles; in my house I have always tried to keep my European taste. But I cannot ignore the fact that I love the warm weather of California - living with sun all year round is much better than the London rain.
-How do you enjoy yourself in Los Angeles?
-I have a very quiet life. I hide in my house and then disappear. Recently, my oldest son has taken to cooking and having friends over, so I am spending much more time in my room (laughs).
-When did you first know you wanted to act?
-It’s a long story. I saw Malcolm McDowell in ‘The Raging Moon’ and was captivated by his performance. I think this must have been when I realised, it was a moment of clarity and I felt like I had been struck by lightning. At acting school my first performance was a monologue of Shakespeare. Although my education started there, I later consolidated some characters such as Joe Orton and now in ‘Planet of the Apes’.
-If you could invent a tool to save the world what would it be?
-I have always used music and photography to express my emotions. I think I would invent an application related to these two elements.