News / Arts & Entertainment

Oldman Hopes to Overcome Typecasting with 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy'

Gary Oldman poses in front of a poster featuring his character of the film "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" at the Los Angeles premiere of the movie in Hollywood December 6, 2011.
Gary Oldman poses in front of a poster featuring his character of the film "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" at the Los Angeles premiere of the movie in Hollywood December 6, 2011.

Multimedia

Audio
Alan Silverman

In 30 years of making films, British-born Gary Oldman has won acclaim from critics and audiences, but he has never been nominated for Hollywood's top awards. That could change with his latest role.



In Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy Oldman stars as spymaster George Smiley. He's determined to uncover a double agent "mole" in the top ranks of British intelligence.



SMILEY: "I'm going to have to send you off into the lion's den. If you're caught, you can't mention me. I'm sorry. You're alone."


Adapted from the 1974 novel by John LeCarré, the Cold War thriller was made into a five-hour television mini-series in 1979 starring Alec Guinness. Oldman is braced for comparisons.

Gary Oldman in a scene from "Tinker,Tailor,Soldier,Spy"
Gary Oldman in a scene from "Tinker,Tailor,Soldier,Spy"

"Guiness was the face of Smiley for many. Other people have played Smiley, but he was considered the definitive performance of it," Oldman notes. "It was a dragon to slay in my head. They are big shoes to walk in."

The fit seems to be just right in the judgment of usually harsh British critics. The Guardian's Phillip French writes: "Oldman gives us a Smiley equal to Alec Guiness in a triumphant adaptation." The actor says he is pleased that it does not try to oversimplify the novel's intricate plot or turn it into a breathless, mindless action flick.

"I would like to think that people are ready for it," Oldman says. "I am tired of being assaulted at the cinema with images and sound where I want a nap afterwards. I find movies too loud and too dumb."

Gary Oldman was born and raised in London. He leaned toward music as a teenager, but studied acting at university and had a successful stage career for almost a decade. Film roles followed and his standout portrayal of rocker Sid Vicious in the 1986 drama "Sid and Nancy" got Hollywood's attention.

He has played presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald in "JFK," the iconic vampire in Bram Stoker's Dracula and police commissioner Gordon in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.

Scene from "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy"
Scene from "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy"

Oldman says he likes complicated characters like Smiley, but often he's cast in more flamboyant roles.

"You are at the mercy of the imagination of the people that are casting you," he explains. "So you can get into the situation that I think all actors have suffered from at one point or another where you feel that you are typecast. I've played a lot of characters, but I did a couple of films with Luc Besson that are cartoonish and much bigger than life, and that's what you get known for."

Fortunately, Oldman has been able to overcome that typecasting, and he is often cited as a major influence by rising young stars like Daniel Radcliffe, who worked with him in the Harry Potter films.

Oldman appreciates the compliments. He says his own career was influenced by those who came before.

"There's Gielgud, Olivier, Richard Burton and Albert Finney and all those people, and it's a chain. You are links in a chain and now you see Tom Hardy and Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Fassbender and Ryan Gosling, a new breed of talent that I think are the 'real deal.' You get a feeling that it's not about celebrity or vanity. They're real actors that are coming through," Oldman says.

With Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy now in theaters, Gary Oldman is already talking about playing Smiley again if more of LeCarré novels are filmed. Meanwhile, he's finishing up one more turn as Commissioner Gordon in The Dark Knight Rises coming out next year. After that, he promises to retire the character.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

The Hamilton Live

Acclaimed jazz saxophonist Tia Fuller has made a name for herself appearing with such high-profile artists as Beyonce, Esperanza Spalding, and Terri Lyne Carrington. Tia and her quartet performed music from her CD “Angelic Warrior” on our latest edition of "The Hamilton Live."